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It’s All Too Much for Heathrow: Airlines Asked To Stop Selling Tickets

Daniel Ross's image
Daniel Ross
Daniel Ross's image

Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 56U.S. States Visited: 17

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...

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“Excuse us, but you can’t fly here.”

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), one of the busiest airports in the world and the largest airport in the U.K., is going to restrict the number of passengers passing through its terminals until October 29, 2022. This restriction was previously announced through September 11 and has since been extended.

In an open letter to travelers, John Holland-Kaye, the CEO of Heathrow Airport, explains that the reason behind the capacity cap is owing to a shortage of staff on the ground to cope with the number of passengers flying through the airport.

“At Heathrow, we have seen 40 years of passenger growth in just four months,” said Holland-Kaye.

Here are the details about the capacity cap and some alternative ways to fly to the U.K. this summer.

It’s All Too Much for Heathrow

Having too few staff over the last few weeks when Heathrow’s passenger numbers have exceeded 100,000 per day has led to issues including long queues, unacceptable wait times for passengers needing special assistance, and checked bag issues, as well as delays and last-minute cancellations.

In a drastic move, the airport has asked all airlines to stop selling tickets to Heathrow for the rest of the summer period up to October 29, 2022.

Passengers queuing to clear passport control at Heathrow's Terminal 3
Passengers queuing to clear passport control at Heathrow’s Terminal 3. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

In other words, if you haven’t already got your trip to London booked this summer, you might have to wait until the fall to be able to travel.

If you do have a trip to London already booked for the busy summer period, this news does not mean your trip is exempt from possibly being disrupted. 

“We recognise that this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled and we apologise to those whose travel plans are affected,” said Holland-Kaye.

Hot Tip: While in most cases you’ll receive a text or email notification, during unprecedented disruption, it’s advisable to log in to your airline’s website regularly to check whether the status of your flight has been changed. Learn how to get compensation when your flight is delayed or canceled in our detailed guide.

The most understaffed areas of the airport are ground handlers — a role that’s essential for the safe and timely turnaround of aircraft when they park at a gate at Heathrow. Ground handlers can be in charge of anything from checking-in passengers to offloading and unloading aircraft.

Heathrow is not the only airport in the world suffering with the summer travel boom of 2022, with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) being one of the worst affected.

Alternative Ways To Fly to the U.K.

No matter where you’re headed this summer, flights and airports are going to be busy and coping with the travel rebound in different ways.

That said, there are nonstop services from the U.S. to other U.K. airports, including Gatwick Airport (LGW) near London.

Here are a couple of options you could consider:

U.K. AirportU.S. City With NonstopsAirline
Edinburgh (EDI)Boston (BOS)Delta
Edinburgh (EDI)Chicago (ORD)United
Edinburgh (EDI)New York (JFK)Delta
Edinburgh (EDI)Newark (EWR)United
Edinburgh (EDI)Washington, D.C. (IAD)United
Gatwick (LGW)Boston (BOS)JetBlue (starts August)
Gatwick (LGW)New York (JFK)British Airways, Norse Atlantic (starts August)
Gatwick (LGW)Orlando (MCO)British Airways
Gatwick (LGW)Tampa (TPA)British Airways
Manchester (MAN)Atlanta (ATL)Virgin Atlantic
Manchester (MAN)Houston (IAH)Singapore Airlines
Manchester (MAN)New York (JFK)Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic
Manchester (MAN)Orlando (MCO)Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic

Final Thoughts

The heat is on for Heathrow this busy summer travel season.

The airport’s CEO has asked airlines to stop selling new seats on flights to and from Heathrow until October 29, 2022.

It’s hoped that the capacity cap will mean fewer disruptions for passengers. We can but hope for a summer of travel with as few disruptions as possible!

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.


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