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

Jul 13, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news!

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.”

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 photo by Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.