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Heathrow passengers face long queues as more than 100 staffers told to self-isolate

July 13, 2021
3 min read
Heathrow passengers face long queues as more than 100 staffers told to self-isolate
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Passengers departing from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on Monday experienced longer-than-usual queues to get through the airport. The reason? A largely short-staffed airport.

Heathrow Airport said that more than 100 of its staff were instructed to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app. The isolating staff are believed to have been the reason behind the massive queues ahead of security.

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The self-isolating staff did not involve Border Force officers, and only Terminal 5 was affected by the disruption.

Social media took off with stories and pictures from passengers who experienced massive queues and limited social distancing. One passenger described the scenes from inside Terminal 5 as “total chaos.”

“Earlier today, we experienced some passenger congestion in Terminal 5 departures, due to colleagues being instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace,” a Heathrow spokesperson said in a statement. “We have activated additional team members to assist passengers with their journeys and the operation has now returned to normal. We apologise to our passengers for any inconvenience caused.”

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Following the activation of more staff to security at Heathrow on Tuesday morning, there appear to be fewer complaints across social media.

In recent months, there’s been increasing pressure on Heathrow to better staff the airport. At times, there have been queues of more than eight hours at immigration, due to the U.K.’s complicated entry restrictions and the requirements for Border Force to check testing and quarantine plans for passengers.

Related: Heathrow warns travellers to brace for up to 6-hour queues

Since last month, Heathrow has reopened Terminal 3 for its dedicated red list terminal, meaning passengers arriving from any of the 56 red list countries will enter through the terminal and proceed to hotel quarantine. That operation will eventually move to Terminal 4 once Virgin Atlantic and Delta resume operations from Terminal 3 this week.

As of 19 July, ambers arrivals who have been fully vaccinated in the U.K. no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in England. Note that as of launch, it only applies to travellers who have received both doses of a vaccine in the U.K. Passengers will still be required to have a pre-departure negative test, as well as take a PCR test within two days of arrival.

“While it’s fantastic news that some double-vaccinated passengers will no longer need to quarantine from amber countries, ministers need to extend this policy to US and EU nationals if they want to kickstart the economic recovery,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said.

Featured image by Passengers wait at check-in desks in the departures hall in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in London, U.K., on Monday, May 17, 2021. After a year of false starts, rogue virus strains and vaccine drama, Brits are finally able to travel again, if only to a handful of green list destinations that wont require quarantine on return. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023