Heathrow Airport Extends Passenger Cap Through October — What to Know

The cap applies to departing passengers only.

London's Heathrow Airport has extended its cap on passengers through October as it works to keep up with customer demand and minimize issues that led to chaos earlier this summer.

The airport, which first implemented limits on passenger capacity and asked airlines to stop selling tickets last month, announced on Monday that will continue to cap daily passengers at 100,000 until at least Oct. 29. Heathrow said the cap, which was extended in consultation with airlines, has been successful at creating fewer last-minute cancellations and shorter wait times for bags.

The cap applies to departing passengers only.

"Our primary concern is ensuring we give our passengers a reliable service when they travel. That's why we introduced temporary capacity limits in July which have already improved journeys during the summer getaway," Heathrow Chief Commercial Officer Ross Baker said in a statement. "We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve."

The airport introduced the drastic measure in an effort to minimize disruptions following significant lines and baggage issues, including dramatic images of piled-up, lost luggage. It got so bad, Delta Air Lines even chartered a flight to fly 1,000 stranded bags back to their owners in the United States.

An interior view of Heathrow Airport as the holidaymakers face with an international travel chaos across Europe due to chronic staff shortages in London
Rasid Necati Aslim/Getty Images

Heathrow said the cap could be lifted earlier if the "airport continues to see sustained operational improvements."

A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic told the BBC the airline was "disappointed that Heathrow Airport has already decided to extend the passenger capacity cap until the end of October, as additional resources come on line every week and the airport experience improves."

Issues haven't been limited to just London. Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has also extended a cap on passengers into the fall, limiting departures to 67,500 in September and 69,500 in October. The airport has also made plans to compensate passengers who missed their flight due to "exceptional" security wait times from April 23 through Aug. 11.

The chaos has also hit airlines in the U.S. with more than 100,000 flights canceled so far this year and nearly a million flights delayed. In an effort to keep up, several airlines proactively trimmed their summer schedules, while some have extended those cuts into the fall, including United Airlines and American Airlines.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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