web Musings of The Global Traveller

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

UK travel woes

In the past year air travel to/from/in the UK has gotten harder (and in many other places too). We have seen and experienced:

  • the August bomb plot, and the resulting no liquids rules
  • carry-on restrictions - none at all in the immediate aftermath of the bomb plot, and now limited to 1 small piece with no extra personal items
  • massive delays at security everywhere

But it looks like it will be getting worse next year, not better. Here are just a few things coming in the next few months:

  1. From December 5th British Airways changed it's seat selection policy. There is confusion on how it is working - apparently computer programming doesn't yet match the stated policy, but it appears losers are those flying business class and non-BA One World elites who have less access to pre-selecting seats than before. Some discussion on Flyer Talk here.
  2. British Airways will be limiting the weight of each piece of checked baggage to 50lbs/23kgs. With the low limit on carry-on luggage, expect more passengers to be hit up for excess bag charges (and to buy a new bag at the airport) - a whopping £120 per longhaul flight. This change was proposed for earlier this year but was cancelled after the bomb scare, but will now occur from 1 February 2007.
  3. As previously posted, Air Passenger Duty (APD) will double from 1 February 2007 to a maximum of £80 per longhaul departure. Unfortunately this increase will be retrospective, applying based on date of travel not date ticketed - so expect big queues as airlines attempt to recover the extra taxes at check in.
  4. A discussion on Flyer Talk on a threatened British Airways cabin crew strike, possibly next February.

The combined effect of all these changes is to make air travel through UK much more unpleasant, especially relative to continental Europe. I think it is time to start learning the airport tips and tricks for Paris CDG, Amsterdam and Frankfurt; and forget about London LHR.

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