‘Incredibly frustrating for travellers’ How will Heathrow’s passenger limit impact you?

Heathrow Airport: Passengers in long queues on July 1st

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On Tuesday, London’s Heathrow Airport asked airlines to halt the sale of tickets for summer departures throughout the rest of the summer. A new passenger capacity limit is now in place until September 11.

Heathrow said the average number of outbound seats still remaining in the summer schedules was 104,000 a day, 4,000 above its cap.

It said on average 1,500 of these 4,000 seats had been sold to passengers.

By comparison, Britain’s biggest flight hub had between 110,000 and 125,000 daily passenger departures in July and August 2019.

In an open letter, CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Some airlines have taken significant action, but others have not, and we believe that further action is needed now to ensure passengers have a safe and reliable journey.

“We have therefore made the difficult decision to introduce a capacity cap with effect from July 12 to September 11”

The decision was made as the airport struggles to cope with a rebound in demand after the pandemic.

However, for passengers, this means more disruption to travel ahead.

How will the passenger capacity affect me?

Some passengers may be lucky enough to find that their travel plans are not impacted, while other flights may be moved to a later date or a new airport.

However, Mr Holland-Kaye has also admitted some journeys will likely be axed entirely.

He said: “We recognise that this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled and we apologise to those whose travel plans are affected.”

Michael Foote, editor in chief of Quotegoat.com described the move as “incredibly frustrating for travellers and their families.”

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What are my options if my flight is cancelled?

According to Mr Foote: “If your flight is cancelled you should be asked whether you want a full refund or to re-book on an alternative flight.

“The airline should cover the cost of transport if you need to travel from a different airport to catch your replacement flight.”

Connor Campbell, personal finance expert at NerdWallet, added: “If you want to travel on your planned date, your airline must find you an alternative flight.

“So, if another airline is flying to the destination you were planning to travel to – or another suitable mode of transport is available – then you have a right to be booked onto that alternative transport instead.

“For cancellations, airlines must also provide you with other assistance until you’re able to fly to your destination.

“These include a reasonable amount of food and drink (often in the form of vouchers), free accommodation (if you have to stay overnight to fly the next day), return transport to and from the accommodation, and a form of communication (covering the cost of phone calls).”

Passengers should also note their rights under the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which apply to people flying from a UK airport on any airline, arriving at a UK airport on an EU or UK airline, or arriving at an airport in the EU on a UK airline.

Mr Foote said: “You’re also entitled to financial compensation if you’re delayed two or more hours by the replacement flight offered and you were given less than two weeks’ notice.

“If your flight is cancelled less than seven days before departure you may be able to claim between £110 and £520 compensation depending on the distance of your flight.”

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