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From now till September 11, you will not be able to purchase a flight ticket out of Heathrow airport. Here's what you can do if you are affected

London’s Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports so when it made the decision to ask airlines to stop selling tickets for outbound travel this summer on July 12, one can only imagine the chaos that ensued. 

Now that travel restrictions have loosened, many are travelling internationally during the summer holidays, thus resulting in airport staff struggling to cope with the demand and ultimately falling short in carrying out their duties. 

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Travellers and media outlets alike are reporting exceptionally long queues, flight delays, lost or extremely delayed baggage and other issues as the airport grapples with staff shortages and strikes. 

If you are travelling into or out of London soon, here’s what you need to know about the passenger cap.

1. What is happening at London Heathrow airport now?

Due to extreme staff shortages and strikes, London Heathrow airport has made the decision to limit passenger traffic to just 100,000 departures per day till September 11.

This is because the airport can no longer cope with the surge in passengers after borders reopened and travel resumed. 

In an open letter to passengers on July 12, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO said: “Over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000 a day, we have started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable.”

This led them to introduce this temporary measure to minimise further disruption. 

2. When does the cap begin?

The cap began on July 12 and will last till at least September 11.

3. What should I do if I am booked on a flight to leave the UK during this time?

Right now, you don’t need to do anything as your flight will likely go ahead as planned. However, you might be contacted by your airline if this changes over the next few weeks. Make sure you check with your airline and keep up to date with all developments.

4. With transiting flights through Heathrow be affected?

Your flight will likely go ahead as planned unless you hear something else from your airline. Make sure you keep up to date with all updates.

5. What do I do if my flight gets cancelled?

Unfortunately, due to how precarious the situation is, you will need to be flexible and accept that your flight may be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled altogether. You will likely be able to have your flight refunded if this is the case, but further checks on your part will be necessary. 

6. What if I need to urgently buy a ticket to depart from Heathrow?

Currently, you may be able to grab some last-minute seats. However, this will likely end very soon and you should be prepared for cancellations. If you can, opt to delay or restructure your travel plans. If it is really urgent, contact your airline to find alternatives. 

7. Are there alternatives? 

Yes. The UK has five other airports besides Heathrow and you can opt to utilise them. In fact, Birmingham International is just over an hour from London Euston by train. If you are flying into London from Singapore or any other country, you can also utilise these airports instead.

8. What should I do if my luggage gets lost?

Due to manpower shortages and an overload of flights, many are reporting missing luggage. If your bag goes missing for whatever reason, contact your airline immediately. You will likely be asked to fill out a lost baggage report to describe your bag and might be asked to provide your baggage tag receipt to the staff. 

You will be contacted once your luggage has been located. However, if you want to be extra safe during this period, you may want to opt to place a simple tracking device such as an Apple AirTag into your bag so that you are able to keep track of it. Good luck and safe travels!

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