Last month London Heathrow airport placed severe restrictions on the number of passengers who could fly out of the airport, in the face of staff shortages that had left to interminable waits, missed flights, and lost luggage.
Passenger limits were set to end September 11 but have been extended through October 29.
“We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve,” Ross Baker, Heathrow’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
American Airlines is actually lifting is ban on nonrev passengers that had been implemented due to the caps saying that conditions are improving at the airport.
Friends and family D3 ‘buddy passes’ still can’t be used, and employees and retirees will have to clear security at specific times. But the airline believes the situation has abated to bring back nonrev flying. And they attribute this specifically to the problems faced by the airport improving.
Today they told employees,
Lifting the London Heathrow non-rev travel embargo in phases
In partnership with London Heathrow (LHR) airport stakeholders, we have made progress in alleviating some of the long security lines and baggage handling issues customers have experienced this summer. Since we have seen improvement for customers, we are phasing out the embargo of non-rev departures from LHR. Starting Aug. 22, non-rev travelers with D1 or any D2 priority will be able to list and check in for flights departing out of LHR as long as they clear LHR security lines before 8 a.m. British Summer Time (BST) or between noon and 3 p.m. BST. These time limits help American continue to meet passenger capacity restrictions implemented by LHR. Non-rev travelers flying as a D3 guest on a buddy pass remain embargoed for LHR departures through Sept. 11.
In addition to the situation at London Heathrow improving, it seems like American is betting that the end of summer will bring a lull in travel with kids returning to school but corporate business trips not fully returning to pre-pandemic levels.
With limits on employee travel this summer, as airports like London Heathrow and Amsterdam have capped passengers in the face of meltdowns, and planes have been full across the Pond, we’ve seen interesting tactics by those scrounging for a flight.
Folks on American Airlines hop over to the Mideast and use American’s flights to and from Tel Aviv and Doha to get across the Atlantic (extreme connections for US-Europe travel!) and at a minimum originate in smaller airports in order to get connecting ‘T’ priority on the standby list.
The return of London Heathrow nonrev travel is still going to present challenges. Standby travel on American’s 12:20 p.m. London – New York JFK flight will require clearing security before 8 a.m.. Catching their 7:30 p.m. departure will require clearing security before 3 p.m.. And then, of course, possibly not making the flight.