Heathrow Airport passengers warned of disruption as security staff strike


Passengers at Heathrow Airport are being warned to limit their hand baggage as security officers stage a series of walkouts, starting on Thursday.

Travel disruption is expected at the west London airport while around 1,400 members of Unite union strike between May 4-6, 9-10 and 25-27 - which includes the King’s coronation on Saturday.

Travellers are advised to check their flight status with the airline and to expect the airport to be busy. The airport asked that passengers arrive no earlier than two hours before a short-haul flight and three hours before long-haul flights.

Hand baggage, or carry-on, will be limited to two items per person on strike days, the airport warned. Handbags and laptop bags count as a piece of hand baggage.

Checked-in luggage allowance will remain as advertised by airlines. Additional support teams will be assisting passengers, Heathrow Airport said.

“While the airport will remain open, the strike action may cause disruption to the travel plans of some passengers during this period,” the airport said in a statement.

Unite union announced on Wednesday evening that strikes would go ahead after last-minute talks over a pay dispute at the conciliation service Acas broke down.

The union’s regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Unite has given Heathrow Airport every opportunity to make an improved pay offer, which could have led to the strike action being suspended.

“Sadly, they refused to grasp the opportunity to make an offer which could meet members’ expectations."

The strikes in May follow similar action taken by the union in March.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: "Passengers can be reassured that they will travel as normal.

“This is an important time for the country, and we will not let these unnecessary strikes disrupt journeys.

“We have activated our contingency plans and deployed 750 additional colleagues and the entire management team who will be on hand in the terminals providing assistance to passengers.

“The majority of colleagues do not support strike action. Colleagues could have an inflation-matching pay increase for two years - 10 per cent this year and a CPI-linked increase in 2024, as well as a £1,150 lump sum but instead they’re left empty-handed by Unite’s refusal to allow members to vote on the offer.

“We have therefore asked for the independent and specialist support of Acas to chair further talks with unions and find a resolution.”

There will be an airspace restriction across London on Friday and Saturday as part of "an extensive security operation”.

However, these are not thought to have an impact on commercial flights, instead impacting light aircraft pilots and drone users.

This is in contrast with the day of the late Queen’s funeral, when more than 100 Heathrow Airport flights were cancelled to prevent aircraft noise disturbing proceedings at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.