Passengers Sigh as Heathrow Caps Numbers to Head Off ‘Airmageddon’

She felt sympathy for ground-staff workers, she said, but the experience had only confirmed to her that she and her husband had made the right choice to avoid traveling this summer. “Maybe next year,” she said. “Definitely not this year.”

Past the security lines, which took about an hour at midday on Wednesday, the crowds seemed to disperse, though the problems for some passengers did not stop there.

“If I can avoid travel and flying, I will,” said Eman Martin-Vignerte, who was waiting for a flight from London to Stuttgart, Germany, that already been canceled twice, forcing her to leave and return to the airport. The delays, she said, seemed “like a tsunami.”

“They really need to get the same level of staff as before Covid,” she said, adding that she hoped the mayhem was temporary.

Even in the travel industry, workers say this summer is remarkable.

“This is first time I’ve seen this situation,” said Tobi Kerstan, a pilot for Lufthansa who was traveling to Germany from London. “It’s no longer fun to fly,” said Mr. Kerstan, who has flown for 25 years. Asked about Heathrow’s cap on departing passengers, he said he wondered how it would be enforced. “Is anyone counting the people?” he said, gesturing around at other passengers. “I would say it’s a guess.”

Low pay for ground staff working for airlines was a problem, he said, adding that a common cause of flight delays at the moment was the tight timelines for airline workers to board passengers, unload bags, refuel and clean the plane. “You are creating a never-ending problem.”

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