U.K. Airline Travel Grinding to Halt

As many of us predicted, the new security regulations are crippling the airline industry in the UK.

Airlines warned the British government Saturday that the country’s air travel is “grinding to a halt” because of tough new anti-terror security requirements. One airline asked for police and army reservists to help with screening. British Airways and Ryanair canceled scores of flights from Britain to Europe and the United States and blamed airport operator BAA for not investing enough in security systems and baggage screening in the aftermath of new terrorism threats.


Heathrow Airport, the major hub for British Airways, canceled one-third of flights due out Saturday afternoon and night, blaming strict new security regulations. Passengers were delayed so long that many missed their flights. Saturday night, the airport said it planned to cancel a third of its flights on Sunday, too, because of the current delays.

Ryanair, which operates most of its London services through Stansted Airport, northeast of London, said it had complied with BAA orders to cancel more than 60 flights of its Stansted flights this weekend, about 20 percent of the total, but said this overloaded security situation must be fixed by Monday. “Ryanair and other major UK airlines cannot keep canceling flights and disrupting the travel plans of tens of thousands of British passengers and visitors solely because the BAA cannot cope with the new body-search requirements,” said O’Leary.

An incredible list of banned substances is making the process unmanagable, at least in the short term. Oddly, one would think that allowing passengers to carry nothing more than a crossword puzzle (not a crossword puzzle book mind you–just a single puzzle that fits in the pocket) would speed up the searches.

Regardless, however, such restrictions will simply kill pleasure travel. Being treated like a criminal is hardly the ideal way to begin and end a vacation.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alan Kellogg says:

    There will come a day when people are going to get fed up with the treatment they receive at the airport, and stop traveling. It’s not just the airlines that will suffer, but attractions, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. Entertainment and sports events are going to get hit hard. Cities and municipalities will lose tax revenue.

    The new so-called security measures also violate the age old prinicple under British and American jurisprudence that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. As you noted, everyone is treated as a criminal. It’s not about treating everybody the same, it’s about the slander.

    It’s also about avoiding the responsibility for making a decision. Treat everybody badly and, the hope is, you avoid getting blamed for treating any one badly. It’s an avoidance mechanism. We don’t need security personnel avoiding their responsibilities. If you must travel challenge the restrictions and regulations as violating basic civil rights. You are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. TSA regulations say you are guilty, no discussion

    Let’s stay home. Patronize local attractions and events. Hurt the tourist industry and watch as they bitch to the government. Watch as local economies and the national economy suffer hits. And as local, state, and national tax revenue declines. When elected official see the economy go into a recession they’ll start speaking out.

    In other words, let’s go on strike. A national tourism strike and watch as our government squirms under the pressure.