American Airlines storms Heathrow October 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

Anyone who has flown AA in the last year or so will probably have an inkling that they are not having the best of times. Gary Shteyngart in the New York Times is a little more assertive in describing their malaise:

You, American Airlines, should no longer be flying across the Atlantic. You do not have the know-how. You do not have the equipment. And your employees have clearly lost interest in the endeavor. Like the country whose name graces the hulls of your flying ships, you are exhausted and shorn of purpose. You need to stop.

He then describes a nightmare Paris to New York flight that was diverted to Heathrow. What is troubling, though, is this paragraph later in his account. It describes their experience getting through immigration at Heathrow:

[The AA representative] took us to one immigration lane, which promptly closed. Then another, with the same result. A third, ditto… So, ducking under security ropes, knocking some down entirely, we rushed the border with our passports held aloft, proclaiming ourselves the citizens of a fading superpower.

Now, I have sympathy for these folks, really I do. But does anyone believe that if you had tried that at JFK you would not have been corralled by police for hours — or shot? Is it remotely acceptable that a bunch of entitled AA passengers evaded Heathrow security because they had had a bad day? Can I now ignore the formalities the next time I arrive at Boston if my flight is late (which, if it’s an American Airlines one, it probably will be)? C’mon, UK Borders Agency, surely your only rational is to impose equal pain on everyone – or did I miss the legislation exempting Americans?

2 Responses to “American Airlines storms Heathrow”

  1. As much as I bitch about airports in US (LaGuardia, Newark, I’m looking at you) I’ve had a ‘pleasantly’ surprised bias at JFK in the last 10 years. Heathrow is consistently much worse: one unending, unfriendly checkpoint after another up to the gate, always fogged my film, JFK… (and Newark must be said) has almost always been pleasantly accommodative about hand inspection Astia does not need to be less desaturated than it already is). I always fear being shot at JFK less than Heathrow too.

    Now one airport you’d think would be sunshine and pleasantness is Calgary (It’s still Canada, yes?), but NO! atrocious experiences…

  2. LV – I take your point about JFK. LHR is a nightmare, but film tends to be cheaper in the US anyway so I try to buy it there and avoid taking it through Heathrow.

    Calgary doesn’t surprise me after a nightmare experience at Vancouver a few years ago; there might not be many officious Canadians, but boy are they good at it.

    Asia of course is a delight for airports but what really surprised me was Jo’burg – I managed to persuade them to handscreen (= glance at) my Velvia QLs simply by showing them the camera. Given the x ray machine was at least 10 years old and probably turned up to 14, that was a relief…