After normality at SFO, I found myself landing Saturday into the midst of craziness at London’s Heathrow airport.
It could have been worse — apparently much worse, as our plane suddenly shot into the sky just before landing. The pilot later told us that an Air France plane had failed to clear the runway, so we had to abort our landing.
After we landed, there was about a half-hour delay until a stand freed up. Apparently, there’s a shortage of stands as planes are taking longer to clear.
After arriving, I found it odd to see a mixture of people in the hallways with both plastic bags for hand-items mixed among those carrying regular backpacks.
As many are aware, people can only take an extremely limited number of items in a clear plastic bag when departing from Heathrow. But those coming in seem largely unrestricted. As I explained in my earlier post, I left San Francisco with a laptop and other electronic items in my hand luggage. So the halls in Heathrow are filled with people coming in with lots of hand luggage mixing among those who are heavily restricted.
That makes you think it couldn’t be that hard for someone to do a hand-off in the hallways. Of course, those coming in are supposedly “clean” of any banned liquids or gels. In addition, there’s likely another search before you get on the plane. That was the case in San Francisco, where I went through the usual security scan then another hand-search at the gate, before boarding the plane.
Immigration was pretty calm, and I used the new IRIS scanning system that I’ve posted about separately that made it go even faster.
Baggage claim was slow, with no luggage carts / trolleys to be seen. There was a huge queue for them, tons of people lined up in front of an empty area, in hopes they might arrive. I didn’t bother waiting. It’s not clear what the problem was, but I suspect it’s because there are so many people at Heathrow in lines waiting to check in that the usual turnover isn’t happening.
Clearing customs, I found my wife and kids were able to get through to the arrivals area with no problem, so I got some nice hugs to welcome me home. News reports would have you think no one can get into the arrivals area, but that wasn’t the case for them.
Heading up to the car park, we had to work past a long line of people who were queuing to clear security to fly, a queue where normally the halls would be completely clear. Since then, the situation’s apparently gotten even worse.