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Letters / Race to the bottom: the mysterious disappearance of LM622 and the chaos that pursued

Here’s a story, that in my opinion, sums up where we are as a country, society and economy. It’s unfortunately a true story.

On 2 July, a grey and overcast morning in London, islanders, tourists and people travelling home to see loved ones, congregated in Heathrow T2 and checked in at 8am. Their destination was Shetland, and their flight was “due” to depart at 9.45am … or so their ticket said.

By 8.06am the departure board flashed “delayed”, wait in departures, estimated departure 10.30am. By 8.40am ETD = 11.10am, 9.02am ETD = 11.40am and 9.49am = 12.40pm – Hopefully by now you’re starting to get the gist.

At 12.00noon – Gate displayed!! 12.41pm – Fight cancelled – no explanation given.

After a bit of standing about, shoulder shrugging and apologies from the ground staff, the passengers were told to make their way to T5, where they might or might not be booked on a BA flight to Aberdeen. They cannot confirm the bookings but if they don’t leave now they’ll definitely miss the flight.

A mad dash commenced, the 20-minute transfer between terminals was achieved, they arrived at the gate, only to then be told BA knew nothing about this and they were not booked on the flight.

After a few phone calls, more shoulder shrugging and apologies, the passengers were then told they would need to return to T2, collect their baggage and would be given an update. Now here’s where the real fun begins.

To exit T5, the passengers are led to the immigration queue. They were pointed to an aisle and told to make their way through. The passengers queue, reach the immigration desk and are asked for their passports.

Now this is a domestic flight, a flight within the United Kingdom, some had passports and others didn’t. Many had just come with their driver’s licence, after all, why would they risk their passports when they’re not leaving the country and don’t require it. Out with the passport issue, none of the passengers had arrived from a foreign destination and none of the passengers had a valid air ticket!

As you can imagine, the immigration officers’ first reaction was to assume he/she had a large number of illegals on their hands, who had somehow managed to make their way to T5 and were now trying to wangle their way into Britain.

Confusion erupted, suspicion increased, and fairly intense questions started to be asked – Who are you people, where have you come from, where is that baby’s identification?

After a period, of what can only be described as an absolutely ridiculous situation for a small group of people trying to get to an island, a senior immigration officer final stepped in, driver licenses were accepted (albeit they couldn’t understand why the baby didn’t have ID – not quite at the driving stage) and all passengers were granted entry back into the United Kingdom.

From T5, they made their way back to T2. On arrival at T2, they were put through security and escorted through a back passage, six at a time, to recover their luggage. Once all 16 passengers had their luggage, they were given an update: “You’re all booked on the BA 6.25pm to Aberdeen, please make your way to Terminal 5.

Terminal 5 reached, security cleared, BA flight departed at 6.40pm and arrived in Aberdeen 1hrs and 35minutes later.

Passengers were transferred to the Dyce Hotel and given a 4.30am pick up for the red eye to Sumburgh the following day.

Elderly people, tourists from out with the UK and a mother with her seven month old child were put through the above ordeal.

No support, no direction, no leadership or ownership and an overstretched ad-hoc ground staff, who were on the clock for their next flight. The passengers were given a £5 refreshment voucher in an airport where a coffee costs £3.80. They were in the airport for 10 hours

This is Britain, it’s an absolute race to the bottom. How far can things be pushed and how much money can be skimmed off the top? And there’s no one stopping it.

Too top it all off, there are actually individuals within the aviation industry lobbying the government claiming UK aviation passenger compensation is too harsh on airlines.

Weight a CEO’s bonus on reliability of service vs top end profit and I’m sure we’d see swift change. Passengers are still unaware of what happened to LM622.

Craig Johnson
Northmavine

Note:
Loganair has been approached to respond to the points raised in this letter.

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