Impossible To Parody: London Heathrow Boss On Summer Travel

London Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, on how well he and the airport are managing the summer travel surge.

The summer getaway has started well at Heathrow, thanks to early planning and keeping demand in line with airline ground-handler capacity.

Any issues, he says, are the fault of airlines failing to “recruit and train more ground handlers” and fault with the airport lies only in not having enough money for capital investment, but that’s the fault of the global pandemic not the airport itself, offering that:

airports need catch up on under investment during the Covid years – at Heathrow, that means replacing the T2 baggage system and new security lanes.

Oh, and need I mention that the airport CEO also blames a viral travel tip TikTok for the airport’s woes, saying more people are requesting wheelchair assistance to navigate the airport?

Wolf Jenkins filmed himself pretending to have sprained his ankle at the Bodrum Airport. He walked around barefoot (inside the airport – yuck). He saw huge lines and was worried he’d miss his flight, and wound up pushed in a wheelchair through the airport and to his seat. He was even given his own row on board so he could stretch out.

After the flight – it was a miracle – he could walk!

Heathrow’s solution to its massive failures and meltdowns is to substantially limit the number of passengers it serves this summer. A great start indeed! And since the passenger cap came only after the meltdowns, a sure reflection of wise early planning, too.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m amazed at how many excuses can be invented to defect blame of an inadequate system.

    A TikTok video? Really?!?!

  2. What a crock of sh!t. I conne ted in Heathrow a few weeks ago from Schipol. They had one person checking passports so….. a long line then they had 2 lanes open for security check. Considering we were all checked at Schipol this should have been quick but the staff had a bug up their ass and were being rude and difficult with customers SO THEY MISSED FLIGHTS Water bought inside Schipol was not allowed, every gift was given extra scrutiny. Each gift box of Belgian chocolate that went through the scanner was opened and each ball of cheese was checked. Did security need to see the lingerie the guy in front of me bought as a gift for his wife when rejected bags were backed up into the scanner. How the f is that the airline’s fault?

  3. T2 is the newest terminal, how does that need a new baggage system already unless through HALs incompetence. The main reason for underinvestment is fat dividends to HAL that long pre-date covid.

  4. nice to know that Americans are still deeply connected with Brits, in this case in the capacity to deny reality and redefine terms in the midst of obvious failure

  5. Blame the customer….

    People would not use TikTok hacks, if airports/airlines were staffing security and checkin correctly. Period.

    In the US, it seems acceptable that people wait at least 15min at the TSA. ATL is an airport where half of the TSA lines are closed, yet people are waiting 15 or more minutes and people find this acceptable.

  6. Are all of the baggage issues at T2, or are other terminals having issues as well?

  7. London Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, forgot to add that passengers at LHR will receive complimentary misconnected luggage storage for up to one year. This special offer is limited to the first two-million passenger suitcases. Elite passengers can have deluxe baggage storage out of the rain and in a vermin-free environment. However, due to storage limitations, misrouted dogs, cats, unaccompanied minors, and elders in wheelchairs will only receive seven days of storage.

  8. The system is overloaded. Just way too many people now and too many spoil everything. You have to really wanna go somewhere to endure this. It angers me that in the US we are still taking off our shoes twenty years later while the demented dreg is sitting in prison with better health care than I have. It’s like we’re all having to do time with him. I was part of the airline biz for twenty-one years. People expect entirely too much from the airlines now. What was once a lovely terminal experience has become the bus station. I guess I’m old.

  9. A spokesman for a global fast-food outlet said “We too will follow Heathrow’s innovative policy and restrict the number of people entering our stores. By selling less we can reduce wait times and eventually we hope to reduce capacity to a virtual zero so we can then claim that Customers are not experiencing any delays at all”. “Bravo Heathrow Airport, it has taken real commercial courage to decide that managing your core business efficiently is best achieved by removing Customers from your system whilst continuing to overcharging everyone else to the maximum”.

  10. A clear illustration that privately owned airports are not automatically better than publicly owned ones.

  11. My husband & I have traveled several times in 2022, we were not aware of the wheelchair assistance until my most recent trip from the east coast to the west… I Absolutely could Not have made it without the generous help Southwest offereing this option. I’d like to add that with all the other flights, both my husband and I suffered Greatly for many weeks after pushing ourselves getting to & from our connecting gate’s & baggage claim area. I would Gladly get a letter from my physician stating all physical limitations as would my husband… We can not imagine, (as our family grows), not being able to travel as a Direct result of those abusing the system.
    Please, for the sake of us who desperately need this assistant, come up with a solution… Requiring a letter from one’s physician should help, I have one in my CPAP bag, just Incase!
    Best Regards
    C. S.

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