UK Airports to face penalties when they screw up your trip

The UK has a bit of a history when it comes to airports getting in the way of your vacation plans.

London Heathrow airport is where I’ve spent many a night waiting for air traffic to get back to normal while they attempt to fix whatever was interfering with my plans.

Last year was undoubtedly the worst period in the history of UK airport screw ups – the opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 was nothing short of a monumental disaster.

At one point, the airport operator was telling passengers to just stay home until the problems were fixed. And even when things got slightly better, the airport was losing 1000 bags a day.

Another great example of an airport messing things up occurred when Gatwick saw a little snow, and decided to shut down for the morning, stranding thousands of passengers, and forcing planes to divert to neighboring airports.

A new government proposal could help improve things – it plans to give the UK Civil Aviation Authority more power to issue penalties to BAA, who operate most of the airports. The penalties will be in the form of rebates for the airlines who were impacted. Of course, this may not always benefit passengers, as the proposal does not force airlines to split their penalty proceeds with passengers.

Still, it is a step in the right direction, and if the penalties are stiff enough, it might help the offending airports realize they can’t always get away with being incompetent.