Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
Heathrow Terminal 4 Passengers have endured further baggage turmoil today (20 February) following problems with two sorting machines that resulted in passengers on some flights either having to leave bags behind or not travelling.
”Yesterday a software update was loaded onto the terminal”s only two baggage sorting machines and despite being tested beforehand, it crashed both simultaneously,” said a BAA spokesman. ”This has never happened before and meant we had to move to manual sorting. People are putting bags on the belts, which is fine for smaller carriers such as Qantas and KLM, but British Airways (BA) has a much larger operation and it has seriously affected the airline.”
BA is telling long-haul passengers in economy, World Traveller Plus and all transfer passengers not to bring hold luggage. Business and first class are no longer affected and can check in bags.
BAA managed to get the sorters working this morning, and says it will confirm later today whether they are going to be operating as normal. In the meantime, its website asks passengers travelling through T4 to check with airlines before leaving for the airport, and consider minimising hold luggage.
”There is no problem with check-in or security, but there are long queues at ticket rebooking, and some passengers are choosing to leave bags at excess baggage points, so there is also congestion there,” said the spokesman. ”While every effort is being made to rectify the problem, you may experience some delays when departing today.”
This comes on the day that BA came second in a league of the worst-performing European carriers for lost luggage published by the Air Transport Users Council. For every 1,000 passengers last year, 26.5 suffered delayed bags on BA flights, up from 23 in 2006 (when it topped the league). TAP Air Portugal was first this time, averaging 27.8.
A BA spokesman told ABTN the T4 baggage problem today was ”indicative of Heathrow ” it”s busy, and if you put added pressure on it, it”s unable to cope.”
And an official airline comment clearly put much blame for bag delays on airport operator BAA: ”While our performance at the vast majority of global airports remains good, we continue to experience a wide variety of difficulties at our main home at Heathrow,” said BA director of operations, Gareth Kirkwood. ”It is interesting to note the airport”s two biggest carriers, ourselves and bmi, [which came seventh] come towards the bottom of the baggage performance table.”
He pointed out that hand baggage restrictions at UK airports in 2007 meant BA had to deal with a record number of checked-in bags in the summer, while the rest of Europe had less stringent rules.
A BAA spokesman said: ”Our systems are reliable and we have contingencies in place to mitigate the effect of any problems, should they occur. When Terminal 5 opens in less than two months, one of the significant benefits it will bring will be much needed terminal and infrastructure capacity.”
He said a six month trial of RFID technology to tracks bags at every stage of their journey was underway at T3 and that ”upon successful trial, this could be rolled out across the airport, significantly improving the way bags are handled.” Thick fog is also causing delays ” and some cancellations ” at Heathrow today.