Yesterday we flew into London Heathrow and face the horrors of flying out in two weeks time. The airport’s problems illustrate the incompetence of big government.
Flying in to Heathrow Terminal 4 wasn’t so bad because its unpopularity meant no crowds at immigration, and we had no checked bags.
Terminal 4 is mostly used by British Airways, and that airline has the worst lost baggage record of any European airline:
One in every 35 passengers on BA flights lost luggage between April and June and a continued baggage crisis at Heathrow is expected to exacerbate the problem throughout the summer peak.
Such is the scale of the problem that travellers were yesterday advised to avoid checking in bags altogether and take hand luggage instead.
But the Brit government limits you to one bag when you fly out, and that’s caused a huge spike in the number of checked bags:
BA claims the restrictions mean 23,000 bags a day go through a system designed for 18,000. It has admitted a backlog of 20,000 bags but baggage workers claim it is closer to 40,000.
The one bag limit is to reduce the workload of security personnel – less bags means less searches..
But air transportation is a huge interconnected web, in which baggage handling is an important constraint, and ignorant meddling can break things, as happened here. The casualties, in no particular order are:
British Airways: it’s lost 10% of its customers in a year. It’s not our favorite airline, but it beats most US carriers on service and reliability, and it doesn’t deserve to be pushed down below Air France and Lufthansa.
The Brit economy, which depends on financial services, which in turn depend on frequent fliers, has lost competitiveness while the terrorists have gained.
Londoners, who are left with just two second tier airports (Luton and Stanstead – Gatwick is as bad as Heathrow), and now have to use hubs in Holland and France for long haul.
All because the Brit government is out of its depth in meddling with air transportation.
Still, now we’re here, London is wonderful. We brought good weather with us – it’s 75 degrees and sunny – the services are much more efficient than in, say, Rome.
And the girls are in their summer dresses, which this year are very stylish.
The Brits just need to elect a government that’s aware of its limitations – it’ll take 5 years to remove the legacy of Blair and Brown, but the job needs to be started quickly.