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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Irish Travellers should avoid Heathrow Airport like the Plague if getting Connecting Flights to non-UK destinations

London Heathrow Airport is the world’s busiest international airport. It is the UK’s largest airport and handles 64 million passengers every year. Photo: www.skyparksecure.com .

Terminal 4 was an oasis of calm in the early 1990's but now more resembles the chaotic Dublin Airport. British Airways will move into Terminal 5 in 2008. On its own Terminal 5 will be the third largest airport in Europe after Frankfurt and the rest of Heathrow.The move will "transform the flying experience for the 30 million British Airways passengers" who pass through Heathrow airport each year. The whole experience will be faster, smoother and simpler." However, that is little consolation for Irish travellers arriving at Terminal 1 who have to enter the UK to move to remaining terminals.

British Airways (BA) has today apologised to passengers who have lost their luggage during the fog-disrupted holiday season and said that it would reunite thousands of missing bags with their owners.

About 10,000 bags did not make it to their intended destination over the Christmas period and Channel 4 News reported this evening that more than 7,000 luggage pieces remain undelivered at London's Heathrow Airport.

It also reported that Nigerians had made death threats in Lagos against BA staff because of undelivered luggage.

The airline was severely affected by the thick fog which enveloped much of the country before Christmas and also experienced a "fault with a baggage belt" at Terminal Four at Heathrow Airport.

Passengers are reported to have complained that they have seen piles of bags near the baggage carousels at Heathrow and questions have been raised about how secure the bags are in storage and the length of time it has taken to contact their owners.

Irish travellers who plan long-haul flights via European airports should avoid Heathrow like the plague. Schipol Airport in Amsterdam is generally my choice as Aer Lingus has a code-sharing arrangement with KLM and it's not necessary to re-enter a terminal to board a connecting flight. Frankfurt Airport is also a good choice for travelling eastward.

Getting a boarding card for the connecting flight is a big advantage but Aer Lingus' decision to withdraw from the One World alliance limits that facility.

I unfortunately ended up having to get to Heathrow's Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 on two recent occasions. Even though my bags were booked through to their final destinations, I had to join long queues to get boarding cards.

On Sunday evening, after 27 hours from the time I set out for Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I arrived into a grim Dublin Airport and one bag had been left back in Heathrow. Aer Lingus did a good job in tracing it and delivering it on Monday.


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