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#965259 by classybird
07 Jul 2022, 14:40
I've just been reading on another forum about people experiencing very long wait times in upper class check in wing and very slow security checks. People reporting taking 1.5hrs to get through upper class check in and security which seems totally out of line with what we are supposed to experience! and to what I experienced every time I have flown upper class.
We are flying out next weekend with our family who have never flown upper class before and we we hoping to blow them away with the experience.
I am very worried now that the experience may be a bad one instead of a good one.

Has anyone on this forum flown recently and experienced long delays?
#965260 by mikethe3rd
07 Jul 2022, 15:30
Last Friday took around 45 minutes. Normal (non fast track) security in T3 was quicker.

Get dropped off at the wing, drop your bags and then take a look at the queue. If it's backed up, go straight ahead and into the normal T3 area and access fast track security there.
#965261 by CommanderB
07 Jul 2022, 16:58
The morning is the worst in my experience. I think given the growth with DL joining the fold a few years back, that lane needs expanding to be double the size. That hasn't happened and I do not know if it will. But otherwise using the usual T3 fast track is the only other good option.
#965263 by classybird
07 Jul 2022, 20:52
mikethe3rd wrote:Last Friday took around 45 minutes. Normal (non fast track) security in T3 was quicker.

Get dropped off at the wing, drop your bags and then take a look at the queue. If it's backed up, go straight ahead and into the normal T3 area and access fast track security there.



Thanks for the info, cannot understand why the upper class should be slower than general fast track.

We will be arriving at 7am on a Sat morning so are hoping this will be fairly quiet
#965264 by Kraken
07 Jul 2022, 21:22
classybird wrote:Thanks for the info, cannot understand why the upper class should be slower than general fast track.


From what I remember, the UC Wing security queue just feeds you into what are in effect the one/two left-hand most security screening lanes in the T3 security search area. Only the UC Wing feeds to these lanes.

I have no idea how many security search lanes there are in T3, but if you enter the normal Fastrack lane a pro-active HAL staff member at the front of the Fastrack queue can ensure that passengers with Fastrack are directed to a screening lane with a short queue / the dedicated Fastrack lanes. By contrast, everyone in the UC Wing security queue is in the same boat & there is no opportunity to direct them to other lanes for screening.

I suppose the big question is "does an UC boarding pass give you access by default to the normal fastrack security queue?" Or, do you need a boarding pass stamp / sticker / physical pass of some kind from the check-in agent?
#965266 by VS075
08 Jul 2022, 08:20
When I went through normal T3 security a few weeks back (approx. 6.30-6.45am in the morning), we were through in less than 10 minutes.
#965279 by CBRLondon
09 Jul 2022, 13:47
I am on Virgin Atlantic Flight VS45 from London Heathrow to JFK on Saturday 9th July. Flying in Upper class with hand baggage only. Writing this at the gate - waiting to take off.

How bad is it? Really Bad!

The checkin area was extremely busy, very long queues for all cabins. Almost no space to move. The escalator up to security had to be closed as there were so many people upstairs it would have been dangerous. Upper checkin took about 30 minutes. The checkin agent was very friendly and apologised for the delay. He said it was like this every day, partly because they are picking up lots of BA/AA passengers who are having their flights cancelled.

Upstairs in security was totally crazy. The main security line filled the entire upstairs area of the terminal. Difficult to estimate how long but security must be taking hours to clear. Of course, people were getting stressed and angry. The Fast Track line was also very long - the entrance to the queue is at the very end of the terminal.

I used the security lane in the Upper Class wing, which also had a very long queue (additional rope lines added) but I got through in about half an hour. The security officer also told me it was like this every day and very frustrating for them.

The Virgin Clubhouse was excellent as ever. Chatting to the staff, they advised that all of the airlines were complaining to Heathrow. They also said that the day before, Virgin had deployed all their airport staff to hand tag bags, as the baggage system had failed again.

After boarding, I then had an hour delay as Heathrow didn’t have enough baggage handlers to load the aircraft. The FSM advised that this was standard these days, The Captain left the aircraft to supervise in person. Currently waiting for them to finish loading bags, Captain estimating a delay of about 2 hours. He also just advised that the baggage system in the terminal has just failed again, but all of our bags should have made it to the aircraft before it failed.

A few conclusions, ahead of the school holidays-

- Expect very long delays
- Arrive at least 3 hours before if travelling in Upper and Premium and a lot more in Economy
- Expect a lot of time standing in a queue – bring snacks!

Personally, I have some sympathy with with the airport and the airlines, coming to a stop, loosing a lot of money, and then being fully up to speed quickly is really difficult. Staff are doing their best.

To credit Virgin, their part was very good and excellent customer service as always. The crew are currently handing out snacks and fruit as well as drinks.

But it is good to see everyone travelling again!
#965289 by mitchja
10 Jul 2022, 11:08
By all accounts it was utter pandemonium in T3 yesterday (July 9th ) as LHR suffered yet another baggage system failure in T3. Lots of delays and lots of flights leaving with no luggage.

The airport chaos seems to be migrating south now to LHR as apparently thing are now starting to improve in all terminals at MAN most of the time.
#965291 by mitchja
10 Jul 2022, 16:57
Things don’t look much better today going off how many delayed departures there are from LHR.
#965381 by JohnF
17 Jul 2022, 15:06
I understood the UC security lane is for those flying UC with Virgin and Delta with a couple of other concessions (gold tier) . So exactly what is causing this problem as there can't be that many people checking through at the same time. Is Heathrow being naughty and using the priority lane for others to help reduce queues generally. If so it needs to be called out as that is not the answer to Heathrow's appaliing failures.
#965382 by JohnF
17 Jul 2022, 15:07
I understood the UC security lane is for those flying UC with Virgin and Delta with a couple of other concessions (gold tier) . So exactly what is causing this problem as there can't be that many people checking through at the same time. Is Heathrow being naughty and using the priority lane for others to help reduce queues generally. If so it needs to be called out as that is not the answer to Heathrow's appaliing failures.
#965383 by Kraken
17 Jul 2022, 15:27
JohnF wrote:I understood the UC security lane is for those flying UC with Virgin and Delta with a couple of other concessions (gold tier) . So exactly what is causing this problem as there can't be that many people checking through at the same time. Is Heathrow being naughty and using the priority lane for others to help reduce queues generally. If so it needs to be called out as that is not the answer to Heathrow's appaliing failures.


I can only assume the UC Wing excessive security queues are down to staffing levels in the security search area - so purely the responsibility of Heathrow / any sub-contractor they use for security screening.

As I said previously, the UC Wing security queue effectively feeds you into one extreme end (the left hand one when viewed from land-side) of the main T3 security search area. Basically there are two security scanning lanes assigned to the UC Wing. Yes, I guess it must be possible for Heathrow to feed people into these lanes from the main security search queue - but can't see them doing that when the UC Wing queue is excessive - especially when you consider what Virgin myst be paying HAL for the UC Wing facility.

Given that passenger loads are not back to pre-pandemic levels, it can't be passenger volumes being the issue. There have been no changes to baggage security rules during the pandemic - so not as though there are new rules catching passengers out leading to more bags being rejected & needing a manual search. I can't think that many passengers will have forgotten about the liquids rules etc - so it's got to be down to staffing levels.
#965384 by mitchja
17 Jul 2022, 15:41
The other problem VS have now is anyone can now use the VS drive through check-in regardless of cabin or class of travel if you pre-book the transfer via VS.

VS should really restrict DTCI to just Upper Class / Gold card holders again until HAL get their act together.
#965386 by Kraken
17 Jul 2022, 17:32
mitchja wrote:The other problem VS have now is anyone can now use the VS drive through check-in regardless of cabin or class of travel if you pre-book the transfer via VS.
VS should really restrict DTCI to just Upper Class / Gold card holders again until HAL get their act together.


I was unaware of this / can't see anything obvious on the VS website. But wholeheartedly agree, VS should withdraw this service to non-Upper Class / FC Gold until HAL sort the mess in T3 out.

The only thing that may limit the attractiveness of the Upper Class wing to non UC / FC Gold passengers is that transfers booked through VS are generally far from cheap.
#965387 by mitchja
17 Jul 2022, 18:09
The DTCI policy for chauffeur transfers was changed last year I think now. Details here.

Essentially anyone flying VS Economy or Premium (as well as Upper Class of course) can book and pay for a chauffeur transfer which gives you access to DTCI along with Upper Class Wing security.

The rules for anyone just using their own transport / taxi have not changed and still only apply to Upper Class / Delta One bookings.

From that page:

Arrive in style, whether you're flying Upper Class or not


How do I know I'm eligible for a chauffeur transfer?

Anyone flying on a Virgin Atlantic flight you can book one, there'll just be charge for that. You can book a car in My booking or contact us for a quote regardless of the cabin you're travelling in or your booking class.
If you've made an Upper Class reward booking with Virgin points it doesn't come with complimentary ground transfers, but you can add a chauffeur car to any destination in the UK or US within 75 driven miles from the airport with Virgin points.


VS offered something similar a few years ago though it used to also include LHR Clubhouse access as I remember booking it on top of a Premium Economy flight I had where I paid something like an extra £200 which offered you a chauffeur transfer, DTCI, Upper Class Wing access & LHR Clubhouse Access. I cannot for the life of me remember what VS used to call it though sorry but again anyone could book it regardless or cabin you flew in?
#965397 by marklife
18 Jul 2022, 19:31
55 mins to get through the UC Wing security yesterday. One silver lining was that we got to see what the DTCI drop-off reception area actually looks like (we always arrive on the train) because the queue snaked out there and back(!)

I spent the time wondering what could be causing the delay. There has only ever been one security lane in there. Can there really be more passengers now than before? One thing that struck me as I finally went through was that the security staff were being very strict about liquids and electronics coming out of bags... and the US passengers, frequent/premium travelers with TSA Pre-Check I expect, were not prepared for that. Lots of them held up while their bags were searched by hand because they had liquids/laptops inside, lots of frustration about liquids and little plastic bags. It seemed to be jamming the whole operation up. Very difficult for the security staff. Very frustrating for passengers.

A couple of VS staff appeared from time to time, keeping an eye on things, fishing passengers out of the queue that were about to miss flights. It might be a good idea to have them remind everyone waiting in the queue about the UK security procedures, how there's no such thing as Pre-Check, etc. Check-in staff could do the same thing. Might help a little bit.
#965398 by OCdreamin
18 Jul 2022, 19:58
Just a question? Are the requirements on carrying liquids and electronic devices not globally applicable? Implemented after 9/11 surely?
#965399 by gumshoe
18 Jul 2022, 20:17
OCdreamin wrote:Just a question? Are the requirements on carrying liquids and electronic devices not globally applicable? Implemented after 9/11 surely?


If you have TSA Pre-Check you’re vetted in advance and are allowed to bypass certain US security measures (removing shoes, taking out laptops etc).

That’s nothing new though, so the only plausible explanation for the long queues at LHR and elsewhere is staff shortages. There are still considerably fewer flights, and therefore passengers, than there were pre-pandemic.
#965400 by mikethe3rd
18 Jul 2022, 20:20
OCdreamin wrote:Just a question? Are the requirements on carrying liquids and electronic devices not globally applicable? Implemented after 9/11 surely?


I’m unsure about globally applicable, but US travellers with TSA Pre Check, or equivalent services, would be used to not removing electronics and liquids.

Just to reiterate to anyone about to travel… after you’ve checked in, exit through the door into the main terminal and use the fast track security there. It’s less than 5 minutes to walk back to the wing if that’s looking like a big queue too.
#965401 by VS0069
18 Jul 2022, 22:03
OCdreamin wrote:Just a question? Are the requirements on carrying liquids and electronic devices not globally applicable? Implemented after 9/11 surely?


In my experience, whilst there are similarities ie liquids not to exceed 100ml there are differences.

For example when I depart LHR they require liquids to all be able to fit into their airport issued plastic bags.

When I depart the US to come home as long as my liquids are under 100ml I have taken a larger home freezer bag sometimes two separate bags without issue.

This is a problem as VS market is predominately transatlantic. The staff at LHR are always confiscating items typically from Americans who argue they brought said items over and this is true (without me being there) having trialed it myself. Heathrow actually offer a repatriation service obviously for a fee where they will courier the items they were about to confiscate.

There was the following article about changes to the scanners at LHR which should be in progress by this year but this was from 2019 so I’m not sure with covid how far this has progressed…

https://thepointsguy.co.uk/news/flyers- ... urity/amp/
#965402 by mitchja
19 Jul 2022, 06:22
Several US airports now use the brand new scanners which allow everything to be left in your bags. ATL has them in a couple of their concourse security check points. When I flew home from NAS last year, they had them there as well.
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