British Airways has announced that the airline is cutting 10,000 short-haul flights from London Heathrow Airport this winter. This massive flight reduction comes from two problems facing the airline.
The airline has announced that it will cut over 10,000 flights in and out of London Heathrow airport. These cuts in the flight schedule will occur between October 2022 and March 2023. Will the Grinch steal your Christmas plans this year? British Airways claims that the cuts will result in minimal customer disruption.
Heathrow Caps Number Of Daily Passengers
Last month, London Heathrow Airport enacted a passenger cap to deal with massive staffing shortages. This cap limits the number of daily travellers in and out of Heathrow Airport at 100,000. This cap applies to all airlines operating at Heathrow.
British Airways is by far the largest airline at Heathrow. They use the three concourses at terminal 5 and gates at terminal 3. I transited Heathrow two months ago and I experienced utter chaos just changing BA flights between terminals 5C and 5A. This short distance between gates took over two hours to complete. I observed many passengers missing their connecting flights because of the delays at terminal 5. Baggage service hasn’t fared any better with constant breakdowns in baggage handling affecting baggage claim operations.
Heathrow Airport has claimed that the passenger cap is working resulting in fewer last-minute cancellations and a shorter wait for bags.
Heathrow chief commercial officer Ross Baker said the airport wanted to remove the cap “as soon as possible” but could only do so when they were confident that they had the resources to “deliver the service our passengers deserve”.
Previous BA Flight Cuts
This new round of flight cuts comes on top of the previous list of flight cancellations. The first round of flight cuts eliminated around 5,000 short-haul flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airport. The flight reductions from May through October amount to 13% of airlines’ original flight schedule.
British Airways like other airlines is trying to deal with a major demand in air travel with staffing shortages. In addition to the staffing shortages at British Airways, there is also a serious shortage of security screeners particularly connecting with flights departing terminal 5A. There are 16 screening lanes and the day I passed through security, only seven were open.
What British Airways Is Saying
A spokesman for the airline said: “Following Heathrow’s decision to extend its passenger cap we’re making adjustments to our short-haul schedule for the next two months.
“While the vast majority of our customers will travel as planned and we’re protecting key holiday destinations over half-term, we will need to make some further cancellations up to the end of October.”
“In addition, we’re giving customers traveling with us this winter notice of some adjustments to our schedule, which will include consolidating some of our short-haul flights to destinations with multiple services. We’ll be offering customers affected by any of these changes an alternative flight with British Airways or another airline or the option of a refund.”
If your flight is affected by a planned flight cancellation be proactive. You should receive an email from the airline with your new short-haul flight information. Check your new schedule right away and make sure that it works for you. If your new flight departs over 60 minutes earlier or later, you should be in the driver’s seat as far as your new schedule is concerned. If your new flights don’t work for you and you find a better connection, call the airline.
I recommend that you allow three hours between the arrival of your long-haul flight and the departure of your short-haul connecting flight. Be prepared for long delays at Heathrow. Remember that you will be competing with many other people that are also affected by your canceled flight.
British Airways typically has long phone hold wait times, try calling in the late night and early morning hours when most Americans are sleeping.
This is the perfect storm between large flight cuts and the busy holiday travel season. British Airways flies an extensive short-haul schedule out of Heathrow and the airline is optimistic that if your flight is canceled that you will be successfully rebooked. I recommend that you allow three hours at Heathrow to negotiate the staffing shortages so you don’t miss your flight.
Be proactive. If you receive a flight change email from British Airways read it right away. If the new connection doesn’t work for you, check for a better flight. If you need to call British Airways, be patient and try to call during off-hours.