LHR T5 automatic gates before security

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Henkel.Trocken 26 Mar 2013
at 10:04

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)

  • Anonymous


    Amid yesterday’s latest bout of snow chaos I managed to get myself offloaded from my flight to EDI. I had a hold bag to check in; it wasn’t so much the length of the queue at bag drop, but the lack of floor walker and just no triage of any sort on entry meant that most passengers had issues of some sort for the check in agent to address, taking ages. When I eventually reached the desk, my check in process – for the flight I had booked and with 1 hold bag within weight – took 25 seconds. But the length of time spent in the queue had taken its toll such that when I reached the new automatic boarding pass scan gate at the entrance to security, it was 4 minutes after the “clear security by” time on the booking details, and the gate told me to seek assistance, Tube style. So into another queue I went at H1, to be told the obvious that I had been offloaded, and so would be my bag. This must have delayed the flight (which I could see happening on the app) more for the so called greater good. I would have still had 11 minutes to pass through security – the display showed 3 persons of busy level which is common – to meet the scheduled gate close out at A9, also the flight was at that time showing a 15 minute delay.

    The moral is that the new unstaffed gates strictly apply the 35 minute close out time irrespective of the general situation; this really needs to be disabled on days such as yesterday with many flights cancelled or delayed.

    Hand luggage only would have been completely fine, the bag drop queue was the killer.

    Rebooking etc was chaotic so I just made a new booking online for this morning, and stayed with friends overnight. Manage My Booking, which I was advised to use, wouldn’t let me do so as the flight in question was by now closed.

    This morning there was the same problem at bag drop, although this time with a floor walker. I timed the lady at the front of the queue as having already taken 15 minutes – I just fail to see how long it can take to check in. I managed to negotiate a fast track via the unmin desk (!!) with the floor walker, though she was far from happy accepting that this was the prime purpose of such a system.

    Even in normal operations, there needs to be a triage system at the entry points to the terminal, with one or two bag drop desks reserved for those passengers with no issues; this would speed up the process all round.

    Could have done with the London 2012 games makers being called up to serve their official airport and airline.


    Have not encountered these automatic gates your refer too – sounds interesting.

    I do know however that the -35 cut off has been rigorously enforced since day 1 of T5 with pretty astonishing results. BA on time performance from LHR has soared in the 5 years T5 has been open.

    Whilst your experience still sows that neither BA not Heathrow airport can handle any sort of inclement weather or disruption to operations, the impact of the conformance check has been overwhelmingly positive.

    The operation is managed on a shoe string and and by people with little real operational experience. The attitude is clearly that they will just fight through days like you experienced and so what, if they piss off some passengers. The always come back. I suppose you should be grateful that you were not left to sleep on the T5 floor with a refugee silver blanket as happened 6 weeks ago.

    Unless people actively vote with their feet then nothing is going to change and given the load factors, the profits and the recent hike in EU fares it seems that people are happy to accept all that BA and Heathrow airport throw at them.


    VintageKrug if you have nothing of value to add to the thread please desist from what is nothing but a clear personal attack.

    Whilst you might add value to some users with your posts this clearly does not.

    Its well documented that due to Heathrow being at capacity in the event of any operational difficulties it is mayhem. We have had several Christmases with people left stranded because the airport/airlines can’t cope.

    I have just got off an aircraft from Prague that spend as half as long as the flight across Europe in the holding pattern due to a backlog of displaced aircraft that couldn’t operate the day before.


    The 35 minute rule (or however minutes is actually is) requiring passengers to pass security at least 35 minutes before departure is strictly enforced – quite rightly.

    However, when the airport is in chaos, i.e. a snow day, as Bunnahabhain suggests, their ought to be a degree of discretion to allow passengers to get on flights, especially when the flights are delayed. Could very easily be resolved if there was an airline representative to rush th epassnger through. Seems stupid to turn a passenger away, based on being 4 minutes late (bearing in mind ALL the circumstances).


    Wooly thinking I’m afraid martyn. Either there is a single standard, or there is not.

    Once you go down the route of making exceptions, however worthy, there lies the path of unnecessarily increased costs, worse on time stats and knock on delays.


    I’m ok with the concept of absolute enforcement of the 35 minute rule, as long as the hold baggage check in process recognises that and allows you to reach security in time in the case of disruption. Bag drop opens 3 hours before departure so you have 2 hours 20 minutes to make your way to the front of the queue, if allowing 5 minutes for the actual bag drop process and the walk to the security entrance. Yesterday the queue was being quoted as 4 hours.

    These automatic gates are becoming standard; the ones at T5 also incorporate the camera for domestic passengers, previously this was staffed.

    For all the quiet desks in zone A, some could be made available for use also by pax whose booking / baggage etc criteria are all ok and verified as such by a staff member patrolling the floor, so that the desk agent knows everything will be straightforward and swift, while maintaining security standards.

    Should I go on Dragon’s Den with this idea?


    ‘Once you go down the route of making exceptions, however worthy, there lies the path of unnecessarily increased costs, worse on time stats and knock on delays.’

    This is the type of thinking that made Ryanair a far bigger and consistently more profitable airline than British Airways.


    “VintageKrug if you have nothing of value to add to the thread please desist from what is nothing but a clear personal attack. “



    VK – Using discretion or making an exception or 2 different issues.

    With pax unable to travel on time due to weather, if an aircraft is delayed and pax has been caught in a landside Q, then it makes perfect sense for discretion to be used to help clear the backlog.

    The only “added cost” would be ensuring sufficient staff are on hand to help passengers and clear the backlog.


    In fact, the actual added cost of such discretion (which is exactly the same as an exception) could be considerable.

    Can you have a think about what those costs might be? Try looking through the round window.


    Oh dear oh dear VK, I must remember to buy you a new dictionary. What an earth is happening to your use of English….

    I see your preference during the bad weather is to stick to rules and not bend anything, just in case discretion, would enable a passenger to get to their destination, just that little bit quicker.

    I agree, exceptions should not be made..


    Bunnahabhain – 24/03/2013 12:32 GMT

    On reflection, I think you should try an EU261/2004 claim for denied boarding.

    If you presented yourself for check-in, as stipulated and the airline was very slow processing you, then I think you have arguable case.

    The regulation says

    2. Paragraph 1 shall apply on the condition that passengers:
    (a) have a confirmed reservation on the flight concerned and,
    except in the case of cancellation referred to in Article 5,
    present themselves for check-in,

    — as stipulated and at the time indicated in advance and
    in writing (including by electronic means) by the air
    carrier, the tour operator or an authorised travel agent,
    or, if no time is indicated,

    — not later than 45 minutes before the published departure

    There is no reference to any ‘conformance limit’ in the regulation, just check in.

    Worth a go and, as with many aspects of EU261/2004, it’s not so much about getting the compo, as it is about changing airline behaviour for the better.

    There would be no need for ‘exceptions’, if the service worked properly and yes, that should iRROPS. It wasn’t as if the snow was unforecast.


    Martin….Flexibility was planned. 35 minutes is the time for LHR joining passengers. If you are in transit then the time varies depending on where your aircraft arrives and where your connecting flight is departing. Quite sensibly so. Thus conformance will vary significantly. Moreover when BA wish to delay in order to accommodate some or all transit passengers they can and do adjust individual passengers conformance times.

    It is the role of the Heathrow Centre which manages the operation of BA at LHR, to make the decisions required to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. However, when they are understaffed or have staff who will not, or cannot make sensible operational decisions, the mayhem that exists in any disruption is magnified.

    If you assume that the aircraft operating the flight arrived late then the departure time of the outbound should be adjusted (and is) automatically in order that all the staff required to service the turnaround can be planned. Consequently the conformance time for direct passengers should also be adjusted automatically but is not. There is a fear that once passengers get wind of an adjustable conformance time they will play the game. I think that is nonsense and the thinking of dinosaurs who fear the operation as they do not understand it.

    It is quite right to have a cut off time and the performance of BA demonstrates just how successful it has been. The issues arise when there is chaos aS the staffing levels mean delays in the terminal. BA could save themselves a lot of negative overage if they acted sensibly but that may mean they collect fewer fees from blaming passengers for being late!

    FDOS…agree this is a EU261 claim and staff shortages are not extraordinary circumstances!

    To Fly To Serve……….


    Ahhh, the dreaded conformance issue…

    The principle, i understand, but which jobsworth came up with the arbitrary 35 minute number? bmi always managed far superior on time performance than BA with no such requirement for conformance. And how can it possibly take 25 minutes to go from the automatic barriers to one of the A gates before the 10 minute cut off time?

    Why couldn’t LHR:
    (a) have a fast security line for immediate departures, like FRA does
    (b) have lower conformance for A gates/domestic departures/Fast Track, and higher conformance for long haul flights
    (c) bypass the shopping mall altogether for domestic departures, instead of the common departure lounge (which is a bit pointless anyway, as the last couple of times I flew to EDI, I ended taking a bus from one A gate to another one, which I’d already walked past, about 200 yards away)

    And why-oh-why-oh-why is BA so completely shambolic during IRROPS… Even the US carriers manage to deal more competently and flexibly when flights are delayed (in the case of LHR, because it was a bit windy or there was a spot of fog 15 hours earlier in the day)

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