London’s Heathrow Airport Will End Passenger Limits This Month — What to Know

The airport will lift all caps for departing passengers starting on Oct. 29.

An interior view of a busy Heathrow Airport in London

 Rasid Necati Aslim/Getty Images

London’s Heathrow Airport will lift passenger caps — a method implemented in an attempt to keep up with air travel demand — by the end of this month.

The airport will lift all caps for departing passengers starting on Oct. 29, the airport confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Tuesday, allowing airlines to sell tickets to as many passengers as they want and can accommodate. The airport first implemented limits on passenger capacity in July, limiting airport departures to 100,000 passengers. A month later, the airport extended those caps into October

The cap was first put in place after the airport was forced to apologize for significant lines and baggage issues with images circulating of piled-up, lost luggage and long waits. Following the new policy, Heathrow said it saw fewer last-minute cancellations and shorter wait times for bags.

“We took necessary action in July to introduce a temporary capacity cap which has since been extended through to the end of October. This cap resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations, better punctuality and shorter waits for bags,” a spokesperson for the airport told T+L on Tuesday. “Our focus has always been on removing the cap as quickly as possible – but we will only do so if we are confident that adding in more passengers will not erode the service levels that the cap has secured. We continue to work with all of our airline partners ahead of the winter season to ensure a smooth operation for our passengers.”

The passenger cap was also being lifted as the airport transitions from the busy summer season to the much less crowded winter season.

The news comes as Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport extended its own cap on passengers into next year even as the airport admitted airlines are “not happy about it.” The airport initially set limits earlier this summer in an effort to keep up with demand and had already extended those limits into the fall.

Schiphol said it would also use the time to address staff shortages, including by creating better rosters and improving restrooms.

In the United States, airlines also dealt with mass cancellations over the summer and into the fall, but things have started to improve and airfare prices, which had initially spiked, have started to come down in cost as well.

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