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Author Topic: Avoid Heathrow Airport in London UK at all costs  (Read 67872 times)
DiaAzul
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« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2007, 02:04:06 AM »
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These are not good times for travelling photographers with substantial gear. Something needs to be done to sensitize the European policy makers at the level of the E.U. about how all of this is not suitable and therefore not acceptable. One can make photographs in many parts of the world other than Europe, and this needs to be impressed upon them - it is a big negative for their photographic tourist industries. Maybe they care, maybe it is beneath the radar screen - we won't know until it is really put under their noses at a very high level.
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Thank you Mark, that is one of the best written posts that I have seen. I agree 100% with what you have written - having lived in Paris your description of CDG airport is close to my own experience.

As to US airports being any better...tight security, long immigration queues, unfriendly staff and lack of facilities. It really comes down to what you know and what is familiar to you. In Europe flying isn't much of a problem because I know the system and work around it, if I was in the US I would know that system.

As a final anecdote. Some years ago I was walking on a hill on the outskirts of Paris and came across, what I thought at the time, was an army camping expedition. It wasn't until I had walked some 100 metres further on that I realised that it was a surface to air missile battery protecting Paris from aircraft leaving CDG airport. The question is - are you prepared to accept tight airport security? If not and a terrorist is suspected on your aircraft then the airplane WILL be shot down. I suspect that this applies not only at Paris but at all major airports around the world where a perceived terrorist threat exists.
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kikashi
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« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2007, 02:48:17 AM »
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This carry-on rule is Europe-wide. It is not limited to BA and England. If you check the history of this new system, you will see that it was decided by the European Union in consultation with the airlines and the security people amongst all member states. Every member of the European union is expected to enforce this carry-on baggage regime. Implementation of course will vary over time and place - this is not unusual. But sooner or later all will comply, or the system will be changed.

That's a feature of the British mentality. We routinely enforce (and obey) rules prescribed by the EU which are equally routinely left unenforced by other countries in the group. We seem to take a perverse delight in giving authoritarian powers to small-minded men who (apparently) hate the travelling public and delight in making their lives difficult. It's part of our English charm. Last time I flew to London (internal flight from Manchester), with only hand baggage, my shaving foam was confiscated: no apology, no explanation, just taken and dumped in a bin. Apparently it's a terrorist tool (at least, it has been since last year: it was perfectly safe before then).

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The ostensible reason why this is happening is because for the longest time the airlines have been trying to limit carry-on baggage. It is a huge nuissance for them.

That really isn't true. Before the huge scare last summer (I think it was last summer), the no-frills airlines, such as Ryanair, had been desperately trying to discourage checked baggage and encourage hand baggage instead. They had introduced a charge, in addition to the ticket price, for each item of checked baggage: FlyBe, who bought all of BA's non-London European routes earlier this year, still do that (EUR6 in advance, EUR11 at the airport). The reason? Checked baggage needs baggage handlers, ground agents and so on, and slows down aircraft turnround on the ground.

Since then, they may have changed their collective minds, although I think not. The other advantage to the airline in confining passengers to carry-on luggage is that they can fill their holds with cargo, generating more revenue.

Still, if we want dirt-cheap flights, we're going to have to compromise somewhere, and dirt-cheap flights are very much around, at least in Europe. I've just booked three one-way tickets from Limoges to Manchester (a 2-hour flight) for EUR31 each: with taxes and other charges, EUR60 each. I'm not expecting a pleasant journey!

Jeremy
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micrud
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« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2007, 06:59:31 AM »
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You're still missing the point, Rob. Lisa spelled it out very clearly, if you would care to read her post. No one in this thread has denied the need for security. And no one has given a good reason why (1) security rules at Heathrow are out of kilter with those of other civilized airports, and (2) even if there are special security needs at Heathrow, no one has explained why the rules need to be kept secret until the passenger can't do anything about it. To my mind, the increased confusion is unlikely to increase security.
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having just flown out and back to heathrow with ba i must admit to having no problems at all, as we took the trouble to find out what we could and could not do with ba and the airport, via their web sites, my advice, check first, plan ahead, and there should be no further problem, and hey, yes, its a wicked world out there, so better to be safe than sorry.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2007, 07:10:33 AM »
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Interesting.  Other European airports on the same trip (a couple of months ago) had no problem with two carry-ons (one of them a small purse); only Heathrow.
The problem is, I wasn't flying BA.  I was flying a US airline that didn't have a one-bag policy and never told me that Heathrow did.  The European (non-British) airline I was connecting to in Heathrow didn't tell me either (and I *did* check their luggage policies on their web site ahead of time).  There was no way for me to get the info other than to meticulously check the web site for every single airport I'm transiting through, which seems an awful lot to ask of someone. They really aren't doing a decent job of getting the word out.

Lisa
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Lisa, what you are reporting is unfortunately normal over a transitional period. They don't get the message out well enough and enforcement is uneven. That will most likely change for the worse - i.e. they will get the message out and enforcement will be really tight!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2007, 07:15:42 AM »
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That really isn't true. Before the huge scare last summer (I think it was last summer), the no-frills airlines, such as Ryanair, had been desperately trying to discourage checked baggage and encourage hand baggage instead.
Jeremy
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It is true - I'm not talking about exceptional airlines, but the general tendancy amongst the predominant carriers - they are in a constant struggle with passesngers having excessive caryy-on baggage and for the longest time they have been trying to contain it because it complicates take-off arrangements and creates a lot of trouble for cabin staff.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2007, 07:19:49 AM »
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As a final anecdote. Some years ago I was walking on a hill on the outskirts of Paris and came across, what I thought at the time, was an army camping expedition. It wasn't until I had walked some 100 metres further on that I realised that it was a surface to air missile battery protecting Paris from aircraft leaving CDG airport. The question is - are you prepared to accept tight airport security? If not and a terrorist is suspected on your aircraft then the airplane WILL be shot down. I suspect that this applies not only at Paris but at all major airports around the world where a perceived terrorist threat exists.
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It's better to know the battery belonged to the authorities rather than to terrorists with shoulder-mounted rocket launchers - as have been apprehended in Africa. Yes, it is a dangerous world out there, but I'm more fearful of being injured on highway 401 in Toronto than I am of being brought down in an aircraft! The incidence of unchecked insanity is much greater on our highways than it is in the air.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Rob C
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« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2007, 07:27:07 AM »
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It is true - I'm not talking about exceptional airlines, but the general tendancy amongst the predominant carriers - they are in a constant struggle with passesngers having excessive caryy-on baggage and for the longest time they have been trying to contain it because it complicates take-off arrangements and creates a lot of trouble for cabin staff.
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Absolutely, Mark, there are way more things to worry about today than ever before; we just have to live with it until Armageddon, after which it will be back to the hippie period... for real.

Ciao - Rob C
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kikashi
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« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2007, 11:14:35 AM »
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It is true - I'm not talking about exceptional airlines, but the general tendancy amongst the predominant carriers - they are in a constant struggle with passesngers having excessive caryy-on baggage and for the longest time they have been trying to contain it because it complicates take-off arrangements and creates a lot of trouble for cabin staff.
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Ryanair is an exceptional airline only in its success (it either is or will become this year the largest passenger airline in the world), its obvious disdain for its passengers (see pronouncements by its MD on every conceivable occasion) and its prescience. All the budget airlines (in the UK, anyway) are following exactly the same rules. Get the passengers to avoid checked baggage and make them pay through the nose, in comparison to the ticket price, if they don't.

Even BA had started a vaguely similar idea, when it reduced the weight limit on checked items but removed it completely for hand baggage; it used to be 7kg, but now the only stipulation as to weight is that you have to be able to lift it into the overhead locker yourself.

There are obviously conflicts pulling them in different directions, but the trend away from hold baggage has been quite marked.

Jeremy
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matt4626
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« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2007, 01:37:39 PM »
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I have been avoiding British Airways and Qantus for years. They both have a very restricted carry-on policy. I have also avoided London airports for the reasons already mentioned.
I would not avoid a visit to London however, maybe fly to Amsterdam and take a train?
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2007, 01:52:30 PM »
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I have been avoiding British Airways and Qantus for years. They both have a very restricted carry-on policy. I have also avoided London airports for the reasons already mentioned.
I would not avoid a visit to London however, maybe fly to Amsterdam and take a train?
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Better fly to Brussels, take the train to Gare du Midi and take the Eurostar to Waterloo Station London. The train can be a bit pricy unless you book in advance in economy, restricted changes, but it's super fast and convenient.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2007, 02:06:27 PM »
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Ryanair is an exceptional airline only in its success (it either is or will become this year the largest passenger airline in the world), its obvious disdain for its passengers (see pronouncements by its MD on every conceivable occasion) and its prescience. All the budget airlines (in the UK, anyway) are following exactly the same rules. Get the passengers to avoid checked baggage and make them pay through the nose, in comparison to the ticket price, if they don't.

Even BA had started a vaguely similar idea, when it reduced the weight limit on checked items but removed it completely for hand baggage; it used to be 7kg, but now the only stipulation as to weight is that you have to be able to lift it into the overhead locker yourself.

There are obviously conflicts pulling them in different directions, but the trend away from hold baggage has been quite marked.

Jeremy
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Ryanair's sales are about twelve percent of British Airways. It has 86 aircraft compared with British Airways 293. Has a bit to go before it outsizes the biggies I'm afraid.

Ryanair's carry-on baggage limit is 10 kg. Barely my camera gear minus the tripod. Their checked baggae limit is 15 kg. Excess baggage ranges between 5.50 and 8 E per kg.

Just adds to my point that these airlines in general are not encouraging people to travel with baggage and that is bad news for serious photography.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Phuong
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« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2007, 09:27:16 PM »
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i am planning to fly to London in around Christmas. this is good to know. is there any other airport that you would recommend?

by the way, speaking of traveling, how do you declare your equipments? (both with the home and destination countries) It will be frustrating if you come back after a trip and are asked to pay duties on equipments you've owned for years won't it?
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #32 on: June 15, 2007, 10:11:03 PM »
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i am planning to fly to London in around Christmas. this is good to know. is there any other airport that you would recommend?

by the way, speaking of traveling, how do you declare your equipments? (both with the home and destination countries) It will be frustrating if you come back after a trip and are asked to pay duties on equipments you've owned for years won't it?
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Heathrow and Gatwick are the only London area airports I've used. But the security regulations are the same for all of them. The allowed carry-on baggage wieghts and sizes do vary between airlines. Best to check their websites. As for customs, I've never been questioned about equipment coming back to Canada. In the old days with invoices we could get declaration cards with equipment listed before traveling and that protected us from issues on the way back in. Not sure whether this is still needed or how it works nowadays - so many people are traveling with laptops, ipods and cameras it just isn't practical for them to focus on that stuff, but maybe useful to call Customs and ask - or check their website.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Paulo Bizarro
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« Reply #33 on: June 15, 2007, 11:32:56 PM »
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Regarding the original post, I don't know what all the fuss is about. The information about new cabin baggage regulations for flights going through the UK has been available for almost one year now.

It has been available in BAA website, and BA website, for all to read. I understand it is not convenient, but it is really no big deal, if you prepare for it beforehand.

No need to make half-assed comments about avoiding the UK, and UK airports and hotels, just because you did not made the effort of informing yourself before the trip. Since the summer of 2006, these regulations have been in place, first in the UK, then in the European Community.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for not being informed.
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keithrsmith
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« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2007, 06:12:08 AM »
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Just to add my experience, I transited LA on my way from Heathrow to Fiji in 2005 - Never again, we could not tranfer baggage, but had to collect it, pass through customs, immigration,  security etc, and ended up on the sidewalk (where the taxi's are) before reentering the terminal by another door, passing through security again - shoes off etc. and checking in for the onward flight.

By the way, I was going onward to New Zealand and on that trip was allowed 2 bags, each up to 32Kg.

I am going back to NZ again later this year - this time via Singapore, but am only allowed 1 bag to 20Kg.   It seems flights via the US get more baggage allowance than anywhere else.

Keith
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2007, 06:53:28 AM »
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Just to add my experience, I transited LA on my way from Heathrow to Fiji in 2005 - Never again, we could not tranfer baggage, but had to collect it, pass through customs, immigration,  security etc, and ended up on the sidewalk (where the taxi's are) before reentering the terminal by another door, passing through security again - shoes off etc. and checking in for the onward flight.

By the way, I was going onward to New Zealand and on that trip was allowed 2 bags, each up to 32Kg.

I am going back to NZ again later this year - this time via Singapore, but am only allowed 1 bag to 20Kg.   It seems flights via the US get more baggage allowance than anywhere else.

Keith
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You'll have a much happier experience flying through Singapore than L.A. The former is well-organized/user-friendly and the latter exactly the kind of total mess you describe. Been through both. If you must fly to the Far East via the US West Coast S.F. is much better than L.A.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #36 on: June 16, 2007, 07:01:27 AM »
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Regarding the original post, I don't know what all the fuss is about. The information about new cabin baggage regulations for flights going through the UK has been available for almost one year now.

It has been available in BAA website, and BA website, for all to read. I understand it is not convenient, but it is really no big deal, if you prepare for it beforehand.

No need to make half-assed comments about avoiding the UK, and UK airports and hotels, just because you did not made the effort of informing yourself before the trip. Since the summer of 2006, these regulations have been in place, first in the UK, then in the European Community.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for not being informed.
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I agree with your comment that the information has been available for quite some time now.

I do not agree with you that it is "no big deal". If your photographic equipment consists of a point-and-shoot you're right. But if you are carrying around a DSLR, a few lenses, a spare body, a flash, a laptop, a back-up drive, charging cords and other accessories, and a tripod in your suitcase you will quickly find that the size and weight restrictions for both cabin baggage and checked baggage are a non-starter. I'm more or less coming to the unfortunate conclusion that for serious photography where I want this equipment, it will be best to avoid European countries covered in this policy altogether and focus my travel photography on countries and airlines that are more photography-friendly. The World is a big place with lots of options.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #37 on: June 16, 2007, 07:21:36 AM »
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BA has also vastly reduced the checked baggage allowance,s and imposed huge penalties for exceeding the reduced new limit, hence between this new policy and the reduced carry on allowance,

In fact BA's carry-on allowanced is 23kg - as long as it is in one bag.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #38 on: June 16, 2007, 07:22:49 AM »
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I agree with your comment that the information has been available for quite some time now.

I do not agree with you that it is "no big deal". If your photographic equipment consists of a point-and-shoot you're right. But if you are carrying around a DSLR, a few lenses, a spare body, a flash, a laptop, a back-up drive, charging cords and other accessories, and a tripod in your suitcase you will quickly find that the size and weight restrictions for both cabin baggage and checked baggage are a non-starter. I'm more or less coming to the unfortunate conclusion that for serious photography where I want this equipment, it will be best to avoid European countries covered in this policy altogether and focus my travel photography on countries and airlines that are more photography-friendly. The World is a big place with lots of options.
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Not so. You can carry 23kg as hand luggage on a BA flight. That's quite a bit of equipment!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2007, 07:40:57 AM »
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Not so. You can carry 23kg as hand luggage on a BA flight. That's quite a bit of equipment!
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Curiously, BA does not specify a cabin baggage weight limit on their hand baggage information web page. They do say we need to be able to lift it to the bin unaided. BUT, the 22x18x10 inch size limit is the killer. I could not cram my gear and a laptop into that size, so it remains an issue - at least for me, and I suspect many others too. Interesting, if you look at that same information page you will see that their partner airlines have ridiculously low weight limits for cabin baggage. I think there's no denying, give or take a detail or two, the overall situation there is quite an awkward mess for many traveling photographers.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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