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Heathrow Blues: BA LHR-JFK During Alert  
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 6387 times:

I was booked on BA115 from LHR-JFK the day after the 'Plot' (8/11) , and thought it worthwhile to share my experiences.

I left my London hotel (Swissotel Howard) a little early, skipping breakfast, so that I would be in good time for my 16:20 departure, and decided to take the 12:45 Heathrow Express to make sure I got in on time. I made it in good time to Paddington, heaved a sigh of relief and settled in.

The train whizzed along, and just as we crossed Southall, it came to a stop. The driver announced that there was a point failure, and he would have to back the train to the previous station to switch tracks. However, the track was busy, so we waited about 30 minutes while the following Heathrow Expresses went by. Finally our poor driver walked down the track to the other end, and did the needful. We arrived in T3 at 1:45 pm, and I had to switch platforms to catch the train to T4. Finally, I arrived at T4 at 2:00 pm.

After being needlessly routed to the Arrivals area and thence on to the Parking lot, I finally made it to the CW check-in line. There were only six people in front of me, so I heaved a sigh of relief ! Alas, the check-in counters were piled with luggage, and nobody was getting checked in. It was odd to be standing in line watching the check-in staff doing nothing, and they were watching us just as amusedly. Finally, two hours later, someone took the initiative, checked me in, tagged my luggage and threw my bags over the heap - the bags were now BA's problem.

The next gauntlet was the Security check. It took another hour to clear, and BAA (LHR's operators) were clearly making a big mess of it. The little clear plastic bags (our worldly possessions) were being x-rayed, and there were only two agents and scanners working. The line would have moved much faster if they had two agents per scanner, and just more scanners. It was just absurd that without bags, cell phones and laptops that clearing security should actually took longer.

LHR used to be a pleasure to connect through, but in the last year has been unable to cope with increased security demands. One can no longer count on making connections reliably there. The whole problem is simply a lack of staff - as was obvious to all that day. Willie Walsh is right to berate BAA, which failed miserably as it could not handle peak loading.

Needless to say, I still had ten minutes to make my flight at the infamous Victor Zone, where only the fit manage to complete the trek to the gate. Fortunately today, both conveyors were working, so it made the dash a bit easier. I finally made it to gate 22, only to be told that boarding had not begun.

We finally boarded via a bus that took us to the aircraft, and I happily settled into 62K with a glass of Champagne. It was unusual seeing that as there was no hand baggage, all the overhead lockers were unused (maybe the future of air travel!).

Looked after by a nice friendly crew, we pushed back at 6:45 pm. The captain warned us that it was just one step of many before were airborne. Once engines were lit, we crossed the active runway, took a little turn, and then the engines shut down! We were put in a hold area as the Diplomatic Clearance from the US had not been received. We waited and waited, and three hours later, we were told that we were ready to go. I was worried that we would have to turn back for a fresh crew. With only five minutes to spare before that happened, we hit the road and took off for JFK.

We arrived at JFK after a comfortable flight, and the baggage staff came around informing us that our bags had not made it. It was odd walking through Customs without any baggage save a teeny transparent plastic bag! I then proceeded to the baggage office, and gave them my address for delivery. I have yet to see my bags three days later...

Overall, kudos to the BA staff and crew for a good show, trying to keep us in good cheer despite the situation. The only bright side to this crisis was O'Leary and Walsh nailing BAA for incompetence. Hopefully BAA management will get a grip on the situation and make LHR a top airport again.

[Edited 2006-08-15 04:19:42]

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRodge From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2006, 189 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 6194 times:

Nice to hear from someone who has seen the chaos first hand.

How was the general feeling on board the aircraft, especially during the waiting on board?

Rodge



Smile
User currently offlineBhxforever From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2001, 564 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6023 times:

I flew into LHR on Friday and am also yet to see any of my bags!

User currently offlineDimoko From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 307 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5985 times:

i was wondering when we would get our first reports.

sounds like a tough situation.

i understand the threat, but the limits on liquids here in the states could get silly. no more gate checking a carry on only, not if you want to have any shaving cream or cologne!

there have to be some good solutions here. sealed as secure, bought after security checkpoints...something could be done if we put our heads together and think.

it wouldnt be so bad if american carries offered a bit better service, but with no liquid being allowed on, and american carries reluctance to give you a full can of soda instead of half...its has the possiblity to make for uncomfortable flights.



"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." -- Douglas Adams
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5798 times:

Quoting Rodge (Reply 1):
How was the general feeling on board the aircraft, especially during the waiting on board?

I think we were all just happy to have made the flight! There was a feeling of camaraderie with the crew - we were in this together.


User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8496 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5433 times:
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Nice to see your view of the day.

It is totally true about BAA, they were just unable to deal with the situation and showed a complete lack of planning for such an event, shame on them, especially as they make their customers jump through hoops to have even a simple job done.

BAA, wake up and sort out your short commings.

Hopefully BA will follow through and sue them.

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineKaran69 From India, joined Oct 2004, 2884 posts, RR: 18
Reply 6, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5371 times:

Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
Alas, the check-in counters were piled with luggage, and nobody was getting checked in. It was odd to be standing in line watching the check-in staff doing nothing, and they were watching us just as amusedly. Finally, two hours later, someone took the initiative, checked me in, tagged my luggage and threw my bags over the heap - the bags were now BA's problem

Mate--6 people and still 2 hours , i can well understand the situation, but was this after or before screening , did the check inn agent say anything.

Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
. The captain warned us that it was just one step of many before were airborne. Once engines were lit, we crossed the active runway, took a little turn, and then the engines shut down! We were put in a hold area as the Diplomatic Clearance from the US had not been received. We waited and waited, and three hours later, we were told that we were ready to go.

What does this mean, US diplomatic liscence----is this something new that has started after the whole fiasco---Why would BA being a scheduled operator require this for a particular flight.

Good report and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

BTW, what are the items that are allowed to ba carried in the transparent bag.


Karan


User currently offlineRdwootty From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2005, 902 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5310 times:

The new problem now seen here is that the aircraft cannot take off until all the apis (s) have been checked by the US so bad luck chaps you will have to wait and if you need a new crew bad luck again WE (The Great US) will not allow you to operate easily . In fact we will make it darn difficult as really we want to be fortress america.

User currently offlineAussieindc From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 437 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5299 times:

Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
I left my London hotel (Swissotel Howard) a little early, skipping breakfast, so that I would be in good time for my 16:20 departure, and decided to take the 12:45 Heathrow Express to make sure I got in on time. I made it in good time to Paddington, heaved a sigh of relief and settled in.



Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
We arrived in T3 at 1:45 pm, and I had to switch platforms to catch the train to T4. Finally, I arrived at T4 at 2:00 pm.

After being needlessly routed to the Arrivals area and thence on to the Parking lot, I finally made it to the CW check-in line. There were only six people in front of me, so I heaved a sigh of relief ! Alas, the check-in counters were piled with luggage, and nobody was getting checked in. It was odd to be standing in line watching the check-in staff doing nothing, and they were watching us just as amusedly. Finally, two hours later, someone took the initiative, checked me in, tagged my luggage and threw my bags over the heap - the bags were now BA's problem.

Just quickly, has the check in counters at Paddington closed?


User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5211 times:

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 6):
Mate--6 people and still 2 hours , i can well understand the situation, but was this after or before screening , did the check inn agent say anything.

This was before the screening. The roving check-in agent did explain the situation to us, and helped as best as he could.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 6):
What does this mean, US diplomatic liscence----is this something new that has started after the whole fiasco---Why would BA being a scheduled operator require this for a particular flight.

I've never heard the term 'Diplomatic Clearance' before, maybe pilots on this forum might know.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 6):
BTW, what are the items that are allowed to ba carried in the transparent bag.

Only a wallet, keys (no auto keys), travel documents, glasses, and prescription medicines.

Quoting Aussieindc (Reply 8):
Just quickly, has the check in counters at Paddington closed?

Yes. they have been closed a while now.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 6):
Good report and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Appreciate it! Thanks for reading my report.



So I drove to JFK today as I hadn't heard anything about my bags - going on three days now. The staff out there looked really worn out. They were quite upset that BAA had let them down. After going through the stacks of bags inside, they realized that my bags had arrived today as Cargo. Hopefully they will be delivered tonight  Smile


User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 10, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4386 times:

Hooray! I just got my luggage back - exactly seven days later.  praise 

User currently offlineAirxLiban From Lebanon, joined Oct 2003, 4506 posts, RR: 53
Reply 11, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4304 times:

Thanks for the report Comorin - interesting to see how things were on the other side of the pond. I flew LAX-LHR-DXB the saturday of the crisis and didn't have anywhere near the delays you had.

If I were you I would have wanted to start crying after about 10 minutes!

1h45 to take the 15 minute Paddington Express
2h checkin
1h security
3-something odd hours of waiting in the aircraft

And then the 7 hour flight!!

All of that and you didn't get your bags.

Sounds miserable...but I suppose there was nothing you could do about it and anyway it seems as though BA did a good job of managing their part.

I'll soon write my own account of the experience of leaving from a US airport. Wasn't nearly as bad as all this but I did miss my connection to Dubai and as a result had to spend 10 hours at the T4 lounge twiddling my fingers.

Cheers



PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
User currently offlineBluewhale18210 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 237 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 4286 times:

Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
We arrived at JFK after a comfortable flight, and the baggage staff came around informing us that our bags had not made it.

BA is notorius on losing bags, even before the entire charade happened. At LAX, they frequently had 30-50 bags to clear customs and delivery to passengers. No other carriers in LAX's TBIT gets nearly as many. I'd really hate be their Baggage Service guy...



JPS on A300-600RF A319/320 B737-400/800 B757-200F B767-300F CRJ-200/900. Looking to add more.
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 13, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4182 times:

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 11):
I'll soon write my own account of the experience of leaving from a US airport. Wasn't nearly as bad as all this but I did miss my connection to Dubai and as a result had to spend 10 hours at the T4 lounge twiddling my fingers.

Look forward to your account, and do let us know about your first week working in Dubai!


User currently offlineTrekster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3580 times:

Great report.
Nice to see first hand what happened that day. I recall it being my first day on the job where not a single person raised there voice on the phone. Everyone knew it was BAA's fault that all the disruption was happening. And of course the Threat.

We just need to get our ass's in gear and sort out the baggage problem. Dont help LHR had a belt problem yesterday


User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 15, posted (7 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 3366 times:

Quoting Trekster (Reply 14):

Thanks for the kind words.

Are things back to normal with flights into Heathrow - Is it safe to check in bags again now?

BTW, I got my suitcase exactly a week after arriving, and my briefcase in ten days. At that time BA told me that they were still catching up; averaging about 100 missed bags per day.


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