As the school summer holidays get under way for some, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year began with flight delays and confusion about complex new security rules.
Some easyJet and British Airways passengers from Gatwick faced delays on the first wave of flights. For both airlines, four out of the first 10 departures from Gatwick this morning were delayed by up to an hour, including flights to Venice, Bordeaux and Nice.
Departures from the UK’s other three big airports – Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester – were operating normally. However, BA passengers from Baltimore arrived 20 hours late and last night’s Frankfurt-Heathrow arrival is now scheduled for this afternoon.
Eurocontrol in Brussels warned of “moderate to high delays” for flights to the Greek islands of Crete, Mykonos, Santorini and Skiathos because of a lack of capacity. There were also airspace restrictions in western France and Cyprus.
Passengers making a summer getaway face the possibility of a second security check at the departures gate. Following an alert about a terrorist plot to plant explosives in consumer electronics such as mobile phones, tablet computers or laptops, the Department for Transport this week warned all international passengers: “Make sure your electronic devices are charged before you travel. If your device doesn’t switch on when requested, you won’t be allowed to bring it onto the aircraft.” The DfT specifies that all flights to and from the UK could be affected.
Video: UK's Transport Secretary explains the new security measures
Both Heathrow and Gatwick echo the warning on the front page of their websites. But at Manchester airport, passengers are told the concern is restricted to transatlantic flights. The airport’s website says: “If you’re flying to the USA please ensure electrical devices are charged and capable of being switched on.”
Edinburgh airport makes no reference to the new rules, saying only: “Passengers travelling to the United States should expect their airline to carry out additional security checks prior to boarding.” A spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said: “Security staff continue to maintain high levels of vigilance at all times and ensure that current security measures are implemented fully and conscientiously. These include screening and checking electronic devices.”