Airline passengers faced another day of delays and cancelations yesterday as airports struggled to restore flight schedules that were disrupted after authorities thwarted an alleged plot to blow up US-bound aircraft.
"It is going to be another difficult day today, both for airports and for passengers, but there is cause for optimism that we will get more flights off today," said Stephen Nelson, chief executive of the British Airports Authority, which runs Britain's major airports.
"There will be queues, there will be cancelations, but we are making progress," he said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp radio.
Airports canceled hundreds of flights on Thursday after police said they had foiled a plot to blow up as many as 10 jets. Airlines banned passengers from carrying hand luggage after reports that terrorists were planning to use common electronic devices to detonate liquid explosives concealed in sports drink bottles.
At London's main airport, Heathrow, around 70 percent of flights were running yesterday, but many passengers turned around and headed home after an early morning announcement that a raft of flights had been canceled, including British Airways services to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
At a busy Terminal 1, British Airways corralled passengers in a large marquee before they were allowed inside to check in.
There were long lines in the departure hall, and most passengers carried permitted carry-on items in clear plastic bags.
"I quite understand all the checks. I know why they have got to do it," said Elaine Loman, who was hoping to catch a flight to Barcelona, Spain.
At London's Stansted Airport, staff said they had canceled 59 flights on budget carriers easyJet and Ryanair.
An airport spokesman said hundreds of passengers unable to fly on Thursday had spent the night at the airport in hopes of catching new flights.
And at Gatwick, southeast of the capital, the British Airports Authority said it had canceled 44 scheduled flights on a variety of airlines.
Officials warned travelers to check with their airline before traveling to the airport.
A company spokesman said travelers with electronic car keys were creating additional delays at security barriers, and advised travelers to pack such items in their hold baggage.
Staff at Manchester Airport said there are likely to be cancelations later yesterday as flights from Heathrow fail to arrive. Flights on Continental, PIA, and Delta Airlines to New York, and US Airways flights to Philadelphia were delayed.