Airlines Warn of Easter Weekend Gridlock in London, Long Lines at Security

Airline rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are united in fears over long lines at UK security and immigration checkpoints this coming weekend, and they want the British government to do something about it.

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Holiday Travel: Long Lines at Airports

Easter weekend is a popular travel period in Europe, and London Heathrow Airport is expected to see 370,000 passengers while smaller Gatwick will handle about 200,000.

For once, passengers’ biggest challenge isn’t about the difficulty of finding cheap flights – it’s about finding the patience to wait in long lines and making their flights. According to media reports, the UK Border Force cut back on staff last year and there is concern there is not enough personnel to keep lines moving. Several airlines now say “immigration waiting times during peak periods at the airport are currently ‘unacceptable’.”

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Get to the Airport Early

The government, meanwhile, says it will meet the demand – for the coming holiday weekend, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, and the Olympics in July and August.

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Nevertheless, travelers heading in or out of London this week would be smart to allow extra time at any of the London airports – perhaps as much as an extra hour or even two above what airlines recommend.

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Published: April 5, 2012