The busiest winter day in history for UK travelers is forecast for Friday 22 December.
All the big British airports are expecting their busiest-ever Christmas and New Year. But on the railways, the festive season is complicated by no fewer than 10 strikes planned up to the end of the year.
Europe’s busiest airport, Heathrow, is expecting almost a quarter of a million people to pass through on 22 December, with 130,000 departing – a rate of almost two per second during the airport’s opening hours.
Passport control at Heathrow will be most stretched on Tuesday 2 January, with 127,000 arrivals.
At Gatwick, the outbound crowds will be also biggest on Friday 22 December, with almost 67,000 passengers expected to jet off from the airport – equivalent to 46 per minute, around the clock.
Manchester airport will be extremely busy on both of next two Fridays: 22 and 29 December. Top destinations include Dublin, Dubai and Amsterdam. But the airport, Britain’s third busiest, has received criticism for its security queues.
American Airlines screwed up and failed to schedule pilots to fly on Christmas. They announced a solution, they’d pay pilots time and a half to volunteer to fly when they were given off, and they’d use their pilots who were on reserve to fly (but leave themselves no cushion) and that would get them pretty close to being able to operate their schedule over the holidays.
Their pilots’ union pushed back. And it was the pilots’ union that made this a big national story, getting leverage in the media letting the world know that American had a problem at a time when everyone was trying to travel for the holidays.
Yesterday American Airlines announced that they had worked things out with their pilots’ union and there would be no cancellations at Christmas as a result of failing to schedule people to fly.
Since pilots can truly bring down an airline while flight attendants don’t have nearly as much leverage, two years ago another crew scheduling error at Christmas had American get away with paying legacy US Airways flight attendants a much smaller premium. This isn’t the first time American has messed up crew scheduling over the holidays.
American Airlines gave employees unilateral raises. Now they’re paying pilots more to come to work. And since American Airlines will never lose money again and they’re currently at the bottom end of the $3 to $7 billion annual profit range they’re promising investors, they will need to make up the cost somewhere. You are somewhere. Basic economy and 737 MAXs but the pilots get paid.