British Airways is cancelling ticket sales at London Heathrow airport for one more week because neither the airline nor airport have enough employees to handle the rush of travelers this summer. British Airways airplane tickets for short-haul flights out of Heathrow will now be unavailable through August 15, according to Bloomberg.
That’s one week later than the previously announced suspension, which was supposed to run through August 8. British Airways said it would stop selling tickets yesterday, on August 1, but the airline claimed sales would resume within the week. Now that the carrier had 24 hours to reconsider, it believes one week isn’t enough time to deal with the backlog, and is extending the short-haul suspension to two weeks to “maximize rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us.”
The restrictions come from London Heathrow operators, which limited the amount of daily departing customers to 100,000 people starting on July 12. This limit had already forced British Airways to cancel 13 percent of its planned capacity for the summer, now maybe more. So, the airline is giving itself two weeks to sort the loss of capacity and reschedule current cancellations.
The cancellations were prompted by a rebound in travel demand following COVID-19 lockdowns, which neither the airline nor airport were prepared for. That’s partly because airlines and airports are still trying to operate with understaffed crews after laying off workers due to the travel lull brought on by the pandemic.
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Previously, Heathrow airport blamed the backlogs on British Airways understaffing, but the airport is now also blaming travelers, citing a “disproportionate increase in leisure passengers.” These vacationers — how dare they travel for fun — are unfamiliar with airport security procedures.
Heathrow said vacationers “slow down the flow through security for all passengers,” by bringing liquids in their carry-on bags. The airport went on to say the issues aren’t going away anytime soon; the London hub expects backlogs and cancellations to last through the middle of 2023. We’ve got one more year of this mess to look forward to, so either “leisure passengers” need to learn to go through security, or the travel industry needs to hire more people. Maybe, both.