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Heathrow sees 3-hour queues on 2021’s busiest weekend

written by Isabella Richards | July 26, 2021

Aerial photo of Terminal 3 at London Heathrow airport (LHR) in the United Kingdom.

London Heathrow Airport’s busiest weekend this year saw passengers face three-hour queues.

Heathrow said it expected around 128,000 passengers on Saturday and Sunday as it was the first weekend since the UK’s COVID restrictions eased, and the summer holidays began.

The numbers are still significantly down from pre-pandemic levels, which saw 230,000 to 260,0000 travellers per day in 2019.

Other surrounding airports also expected increased flights and passengers over the weekend.

Manchester airports expected 958 flights from Friday to Monday, London Stansted expected 1,330, and Gatwick expected around 260 over the weekend.

Heathrow reported 316 flights scheduled on Saturday and 304 tracked. Sunday saw 310 scheduled and 298 tracked, higher than any other weekend in July, according to Flightradar24.

After the long-awaited announcement last Monday was made for UK citizens, most travel and general restrictions were eased.


From 19 July, vaccinated UK citizens returning from amber list countries are not required to self-isolate.

Eased restrictions included no limits on gatherings, no required masks, and the re-opening of restaurants, cafés and pubs.

While this has already seen a huge uptick in travel demand, travellers were faced with up to three-hour queues at border control due to broken e-gates and less staff to man desks.

Many travellers from amber list countries missed their pre-booked taxis or buses.

The congestion was also due to no Tubes operating on the London Underground from Heathrow terminals due to track work.

This left many travellers having to board alternate transport to Hammersmith and then were faced with long delays.

Earlier last week, passengers at Terminal 5 queued for 90 minutes as the government forms resulted in further confusion and delay.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as European bodies such as the International Air Transport Association, Airlines for Europe, and the European Regions Airline Association warned about this in June.

They cautioned passengers could face long queues at airports that will cause “chaos”, if Europe doesn’t introduce additional measures to streamline the checking of health credentials.

“As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European Airports is real,” a letter read as the bodies pushed for pre-verified health credentials before traveling.

Since then, Heathrow has trialled a fast-tracked lane for vaccinated travellers to reduce congestion.

Heathrow sees 3-hour queues on 2021’s busiest weekend Comment

  • Aviasi


    This is a great news for both aviation and tourism sectors.
    Thank you for the update

Comments are closed.


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