Travel Chaos Expected at London Airports on November 30

by on September 15th, 2010
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A public employees strike on November 30 may cause severe slowdowns for international travelers arriving at British airports. UK Border Agency posts will be manned by substitute workers, managers, and even military and police units.

BAA, operator of London’s Heathrow Airport, has posted strike questions and answers for travelers using the airport; however, the extent of possible delays remains uncertain just 36 hours ahead of the walkout. According to BAA “we are working hard to make our passengers as comfortable as possible while at the airport.” Contingency plans include expanded operating hours for the Heathrow Express rail service between the airport and London’s Paddington rail station. Trains normally stop running that route before midnight, but will continue overnight on November 30-December 1 until almost 3:00 a.m. BAA is also coordinating a fixed-fee minicab service for delayed passengers. There are no announced plans to extend service on the Heathrow Connect rail service or the London Underground.

Gatwick, London’s other major airport, also anticipates substantial delays, but neither the airport, nor the Gatwick Express rail service, have indicated specific contingency plans or service alterations. The latest regularly scheduled Gatwick Express train departs the airport for London’s Victoria rail station at 12:50 a.m. on December 1, although there are infrequent rail/bus connections in the early morning hours. There is no London Underground service at Gatwick.

Service at other British airports, including busy Manchester, may also be disrupted. Neither British Airways nor Virgin Atlantic have announced any flight cancellations, although both carriers are allowing passengers to rebook flights without penalty during the strike period.

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