Fueling system glitch at Heathrow disrupts flights this weekend

Jul 3, 2022

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Technical issues at some major European airports have only added to what has been a chaotic situation for passengers in recent months. The most recent problems happened Saturday at London Heathrow Airport (LHR), when a problem with the airport’s fueling system led to a slew of flight disruptions.

The glitch at Heathrow came a day after the Associated Press reported a snag with the baggage system at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) that caused more than 1,000 passengers to end up flying out without their luggage.

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These are just the latest obstacles in what has been a months-long series of challenges at airports across Europe. From chaos at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Dublin and airports in the United Kingdom, travelers have faced everything from extremely long waits at security checkpoints to messy baggage situations.

It’s the latest reminder for passengers to head to the airport with patience as they navigate travel in Europe this summer, as U.S. airlines simultaneously face operational challenges while the travel industry works to meet surging demand after two-plus years of the pandemic.

Fueling system issue at Heathrow

Saturday’s fueling system issues at Heathrow stemmed from what airport officials say was a technical issue, which led to engineers closing the system down for an hour to address the problem. The airport worked to “minimize disruption,” Heathrow officials told TPG, but noted that the interruption to aircraft fueling would likely cause delays.

As of Saturday evening in London, data from FlightAware showed 43% of departing flights from Heathrow had been delayed, along with around a third of incoming flights. Airport officials were not able to share details on what led to the problem but did note that the fuel issue was resolved by Saturday evening.

Mounting problems at European airports

Even as crews worked to solve the fuel issue at Heathrow on Saturday, the United Kingdom airport was far from the only one in Europe experiencing operational challenges. On top of the luggage system issue at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, travelers also had to contend with the latest demonstration from workers in recent days.

protest charles de gaulle airport
Airport employees gather outside a terminal as they stage a strike at Charles de Gaulle Airport on July 1. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

The airport saw more than half of its departing flights delayed Saturday, though Paris airport officials noted they expected air traffic from both de Gaulle and Orly (ORY) airports to be back to normal on Sunday.

Meanwhile, passengers at Frankfurt Airport in Germany shared images on social media of luggage lined up in the terminal and extremely long lines.

Frankfurt Airport warned on social media about longer wait times “due to high passenger numbers.”

It’s a series of disruptions during a summer that includes numerous strikes across Europe, and some airports putting caps on passenger traffic in an effort to ease congestion.

charles de gaulle airport lines
A line of passengers in the departure hall during a strike by airport workers at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Saturday, July 2. (Photo by Benjamin Girette/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

If you’re planning to travel through European airports this summer, be sure to follow the airline you are flying with and each airport you’ll be visiting on social media ahead of your trip so you can start getting a sense of how early you’ll need to arrive and what unexpected circumstances you might encounter along the way.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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