Over the past 10 days, more than 1 million people have taken to the skies from Heathrow, making it the busiest time for departures from the airport since Christmas 2019. The main destinations of this summer are New York, Los Angeles and Dubai so far.
This is the first summer since the start of the pandemic when Heathrow is operating at full capacity: all four terminals receive passengers, and both take-off and the runways are open. The airport is expected to serve about 13 million people on arrival and departure between July and September.
Heathrow began planning summer occupancy last November and has now hired an additional 1,300 people. Most of the new employees are employed by the security service, which is now operating in the same mode as in the summer of 2019. Currently, 80% of Heathrow passengers pass security checks in 20 minutes or less, although queues can be longer during peak times.
The biggest change at the airport since the resumption of flights has been in passenger traffic, with business travel relatively down and tourists now making up the majority of passengers. Vacationers often travel with a lot of luggage and are less familiar with the rules of the road, which slows down airport formalities, especially at check-in and security checkpoints. This is most noticeable in the control of liquids in hand luggage. Heathrow data shows that at least 60% of bags “filtered” at security checkpoints are subjected to lengthy manual screening because passengers did not remove all of their fluids prior to being screened, as required by government regulations. Even now, when all security frameworks are open and fully provisioned, these additional checks slow down the process. It is estimated that in July, passengers spent on “undressing” Heathrow is 2.1 million minutes longer than planned.
The airport has developed a few universal tips for passengers:
- Arrive on time. You do not need to arrive at the airport more than three hours before the departure of your flight. Airlines will not be able to check in your luggage if you arrive more than three hours before departure. Look out for Heathrow staff wearing pink or purple polo shirts, if you have any questions or need assistance upon arrival at the airport, please contact them.
- Pack your liquids properly . The fastest way to avoid queues at security — This is to prepare in advance, before arriving at the airport. Remember: things like cosmetics, hand sanitizers, lotions, lip balms, hair gels, and toothpastes are considered liquids. If you are taking them with you, please make sure that each item is in a container with a maximum capacity of 100 ml, and all items are placed together in one resealable one liter transparent bag. We have these packages in front of all security checkpoints if you need them.
- Get your documents ready. Before you get to the airport, make sure your travel documents are in order. Some countries still require COVID-19 tests or vaccination certificates, which will be verified by your airline upon check-in. Travel advisory service from MFA — the best place to get the latest information on entry requirements for your destination.