Heathrow prepares for Christmas travel getaway

The International Arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

LONDON – Figures recently released show that 5.6 million people travelled through London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in November, down from 5.9 million in October.

Overall, over 55 million people have travelled through Heathrow already this year, which is nearly 70% of 2019 levels. 

The airport is expecting December will be a very busy month, and airport management project that New York’s JFK Airport is set to reclaim the crown of the most popular route for air travellers and holidaymakers this Christmas.

The airport says that the vast majority of travellers will be unaffected by the planned Border Force strikes, saying: “We are doing everything we can to protect a full flight schedule on strike days, so departing passengers should expect to travel as normal.”

“Arriving passengers with UK, EU, US, Canadian and some other passports will be able to use e-gates as usual and their journeys should be largely unaffected on strike days.”

“Border Force has contingency measures to ensure other arriving passengers are cleared safely and as quickly as possible. We are continuing to support them to strengthen these plans so that as few people are impacted as possible.”

“If passengers who cannot use e-gates are concerned about travelling during the strikes, their airline may be able to offer them alternative travel dates.”

After three years of Covid disruptions, the 2022 holiday season marks the first return to some semblance of normality with usual air travel proceedings.

Nevertheless, the airport is expected be busy, especially during the peak getaway. These 12 handy tips can help people to speed through Heathrow like a pro this Christmas, including:

  • Arrive no earlier than three hours before long-haul flights, and two hours for short-haul   
  • Be ready for security: no liquids, creams or gels over 100ml, seal any liquids in the bags provided and ensure large electricals go in a separate tray
  • Check eligibility for and use eGates for a quicker journey when arriving back into the UK

Heathrow CEO comments

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “We are ready to welcome millions of passengers heading off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.”

“We have extra people in the terminals on the busiest days, including me and my management team, to ensure we get people on their way as smoothly as possible and start to bring the joy back into travel.”

“We are doing everything we can to protect full operating schedules on Border Force strike days and departing journeys and the vast majority of arriving journeys should be unaffected.”

A planned 72-hour strike by ground handling staff employed by Menzies Aviation which was previously set for 16 December was averted when the employer put forward a new pay offer.

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