Airport News: Delays, Drunks & Broken Promises

Written by Kate Goldstone

It’s time for another airport news round-up… here’s some key airport news for the first week in September 2015.

London Stansted Airport

London Stansted Airport

Stansted airport and Luton airport score low

A report on the CityAM website reveals how Heathrow is the capital’s ‘best’ airport and Stansted and Luton the ‘worst’.

So says an analysis of 17,000 user reviews. Many people feel Luton and Stansted airports are plagued by delays, long security queues and sub-standard signage, making it difficult to find the right departure gate, all of which had led to both being awarded places in the bottom ten of the ‘Best airport in the world’ rankings.

The analysis, by Priceonomics, looked at user reviews for 71 major airports on the ratings site Skytrax. Heathrow came 16th, making it the 16th ‘best’ airport in the world. London City airport follows close behind. But Luton and Stansted were ranked 5th and 6th worst in the world based on customer reviews, with long queues the biggest issue.

Singapore’s Changi airport, however, came in as the planet’s finest with some remarkably good reviews considering airports, wherever they are, are not exactly a fun place to spend time.

Heathrow expansion resident compensation problems

According to the Colnbrook village website, residents are hell bent on setting up another Parish Meeting to talk about compensation for people whose homes and lives will be ruined if plans for an extra runway go ahead.

Heathrow - No Third Runway

Heathrow – No Third Runway

An unprecedented Meeting of the Parish took place in June and now there’s another on the cards, with the Colnbrook Community Association furious about parish councillors’ refusal to “honour promises made to residents” after the last meeting. As the CCA says:

“We believe that the wishes of residents who attended the meeting on 16th June should be honoured. Therefore we will arrange another Village Meeting at the earliest opportunity in order that residents may comment on the present positions on Heathrow and SIFE and agree on the proper way forward.”

Automated check-in steams ahead

As reported on the AFR website, more airlines are set to invest in DIY check-in technology. It means that long waits for the check-in desk could soon be a thing of the past, and while DIY check-in systems have been in common use for several years, the technology is going a whole lot further.

The idea is that travellers will eventually be able to turn up for their flights with their luggage ready-tagged, needing no help from airline staff. As we reported above, long queues are one of the biggest frustrations passengers face, and anything that can be done to resolve the issue must be a good thing.

Amongst others, British Airways is testing permanent electronic bag tags, a technology that means passengers will never need to attach another paper label to their luggage again. Instead they’ll be able to simply wave a smartphone over the electronic bag tag to update a unique barcode with their flight details, which is then scanned at a pre-security self-service bag drop.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport

Passengers at Gatwick Airport

If all goes well, BA is set to launch its new intelligent bag tags in 2016. Air France and Turkish Airlines are also testing electronic bag tags. And Gatwick airport is planning to create the planet’s biggest self-service bag drop zone as part of the North Terminal revedelopment. EasyJet already has twelve 12 self-service bag drops at Gatwick, with plans for 48 more by the end of 2016. And a clutch of airlines including Swiss International, Lufthansa, Air France and Iberia already provide self-print bag tags on some routes.

Fingers crossed the trend will spread and crowded airports like Stansted and Luton, which will become less of a chore to travel through.

Threatened villagers roll out their own ‘runway’

Again from the Colbrook website, the Stop Heathrow Expansion organisation has given the airport’s bosses some food for thought in the shape of their very own ‘runway’. A crowd of people from Heathrow village and other places threatened by expansion turned up outside the Oxford home of Heathrow’s CEO John Hollande-Kaye to roll out their very own mini ‘runway’ in protest.

Afterwards the protestors drove to David Cameron’s constituency, then the Witney Conservative Association, in an effort to remind the PM that he did actually promise that expansion at Heathrow would NOT go ahead. Last but not least, they turned up at Matt Gorman’s home. Mr Gorman is the airport’s Sustainability Director and he was apparently visibly disturbed by the whole thing, to such an extent that he actually called the police. How bizarre.

The unexpected visits formed part of the itinerary of Stop Heathrow Expansion‘s special picnic, attended by people from Colnbrook, Ascot, Binfield and Windlesham as well as Heathrow village itself. If you’d like to follow the progress of the so-called Heathrow Homeless on tour, you can hook up with the group on Twitter.

Airport news – Drunk women force emergency landings

As TravelPulse reports, a woman was taken off a flight because she was so drunk and disorderly she posed a serious risk. The woman, who was on a plane between London and the party island of Ibiza, apparently punched an EasyJet flight attendant, forcing the flight to make an emergency landing in Spain, where she was arrested and taken into custody.

Thought to have been totally poleaxed by drink when she boarded in London at just 6am, the woman was quiet enough until half an hour into the flight, when she punched a male flight attendant. But there’s more. Another incident saw a flight between Newcastle and Turkey flight forced to divert to Bulgaria because of another ‘disruptive’ female passenger.

The flight, which was full of holidaymakers travelling from Tyneside, was diverted after a drunken female passenger became abusive and disruptive. The pilot decided to land at Sofia in Bulgaria, where the woman was removed from the plane by Bulgarian police.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said this kind of incident was ‘very rare’, but it doesn’t seem particularly rare to us, with reports of drunks on flights appearing with monotonous regularity. Do you think drunk people who disrupt flights should be banned from flying in future, or refused on board unless they pass a breathaliser test? Or do you think it’s acceptable for people to get on aeroplanes when they’re fighting drunk? Feel free to comment.

Edinburgh airport’s new World Duty Free outlet

Edinburgh Airport experienced record-breaking summer traffic. It saw a whopping 1.2 million or more passengers in July and August is also expected to be a record breaker thanks to the Fringe Festival. The World Duty Free chain is responding in kind  with a brand new walk-through shop at the airport, through which passengers are forced to pass to get to their flights.

Catch a BA flight to Seattle or Las Vegas

BA are set to add extra flights from Heathrow to Las Vegas and Seattle in 2016. The airline will fly Heathrow to Vegas ten times a week next summer. They’re also adding a twelfth weekly flight to Seattle, departing on Mondays. They have also announced a direct flight between Heathrow and San Jose, California, to kick off in 2016. California’s wine country awaits you!

Back next week…

We’ll be back next week with commentary about British airports, routes, flights, airlines and more.

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