Monumental Airport stuff ups

International airports are great big, busy places which move thousands of peopled every day.  The Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia is the world’s busiest airport with 76.7 million passenger movements per year, which equates to 210,000 passenger movements on any given day, although many of those are domestic, but you get the picture – it’s breathtakingly busy!

Most airports are run relatively efficiently, but there have been some monumental stuff ups by airports that have led to cancellation or delay of flights, resulting in angry passengers abusing airline counter staff, even though they are not directly responsible for the error that caused the delays.

London’s Heathrow Airport is the world’s busiest domestic airport.  In fact, Heathrow is so busy they have to keep building new terminals just to keep up with passenger demand.  The Brits didn’t rush the building, taking adequate care to build the perfect terminal over a period of 18 years.  Unfortunately, all that good work was for nothing, because on the day the terminal opened to great fanfare they discovered that all the whiz bang, state-of-the-art technology didn’t work, resulting in 500 cancelled flights and 23,000 pieces of lost luggage.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport used to be the world’s busiest, now it is merely the world’s second busiest airport.  You’d think that an airport that had flights arriving and departing every minute or so would be quite safe.  Wrong! O’Hare has a couple of runways which intersect or, in layman’s language, they cross over each other.  This means that if a flight is landing on one runway and a flight is taking off from another runway simultaneously they may meet in the middle, which is bad for airport statistics and even worse for passenger safety.  Airport authorities have fixed that problem by evicting people from a nearby suburb and constructing a parallel runway on the annexed land.

Denver International Airport opened in 1995, and when it did it was the most technologically advanced airport in the world with a massive 21 miles (34 kms) of computer operated baggage track, which was meant to cut down human handling and speed up processing and baggage arrival. The problem was, no one told the computer this and the world’s most advanced baggage handling system ran amok, mangling thousands of suitcases and losing thousands of others.  The system was so successful that humans were brought in to manage luggage by hand.

New York’s JFK Airport services one of the world’s great cities, and as such, it handles a lot of flights each day.  But, hey!  Air traffic Control is child’s play.  Or it was on the day when one of the air traffic controllers took his son to work and let him take over his job getting planes to land and take off for a while.  Now that he’s been sacked, he has a lot more time on his hand to show his son other fun stuff.

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