Further to Tim’s recent post, Avoid Heathrow At All Costs, I have to concur. I flew out of Heathrow last Sunday after this years XML Summer School (excellent event BTW) and I have to say the experience was miserable. In all I had to queue 6 times before I finally got on the plane:

  1. Check in, not too bad thanks to having premier status on United.
  2. Documentation check, again not too bad.
  3. Security screening, awful, long snaking line with less than half the possible lanes being manned, took about 45min to get through, lots of folks getting concerned about missing their flights due to the excessive delay.
  4. Documentation check, they already checked my documentation, what's the point of doing it again ?
  5. Shoe screening, they have a separate queue just to scan your shoes so just when you think you're done you have to get in line again. Why can't they scan your shoes the same time they scan you carry on ?
  6. Gate entrance documentation check, fair enough they need to make sure my boarding pass matches the flight I'm about to get on.

I got to the airport about three hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. Even with that kind of time margin I barely had any time to do much beyond walk from the departure area to my gate before it was time to board. That’s probably just as well since the departure area was completely packed and I’d have been lucky to find a seat anyway.

Another thing I don’t understand is the limit of one carry-on item when leaving from the UK. Only the UK imposes this and I’ve yet to hear any explanation of how this improves security ? Given the recent baggage fiasco you’d think more carry-on would be first thing they’d try. Anyway, it seems the heat is building on this issue so perhaps the government and BAA will see some sense eventually. For now, just say no to Heathrow.