The 2012 Summer Olympic Games come to London this July and August. Over the weekend, I read a British newspaper account of the Olympian challenge ahead for the baggage handlers at London Heathrow Airport.
“Baggage Chaos” was just one part of the headline. Even with a special temporary Olympic Terminal, ground crews will have to contend with approximately 80,000 Olympic athletes, plus more than 59,000 members of the “Games family” and another 21,000 attending the Paralympic Games. Airport officials have already stated there is “insufficient capacity” to handle the work and passengers face long delays to retrieve their bags, if planned mitigation measures fail to work.
The extra work begins on July 26, the day before the games open, when the number of passengers looking for their bags increases by 45 percent. The airport predicts that Aug. 13, the day most athletes leave, will be the busiest in Heathrow’s history – when 203,000 bags are expected to head to their respective homes.
The airport expects each athlete will bring an average of 2.75 bags upon arrival. After the requisite shopping trips, that average will increase to 3.75 bags upon departure. The paper excerpts an Olympic planning document that adds: “This compares with a usual average of one per person.”
You have to love that British humor. A couple of more items:
- Fifteen percent of the bags will be over-sized sporting equipment that cannot be processed through the airport’s normal baggage systems. And by “over-sized” we’re talking about such items as canoes, pole vaults and bikes.
- Two thousand guns will pass through Heathrow for Olympic shooting events. Those will be transported and held at the Royal Artillery Barracks until issued for competition.
Here’s hoping that the airport will hand out gold, silver and bronze medals to the hard-working baggage handlers. Better yet, make them all gold medals.
If you'd like to read through the airport's entire preparation report, click here.