REVIEW | Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport Episode 3 airs


By Heathrow

Published 13th June 2016

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The third episode of ITV’s Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport saw the second series bow out with a respectable 2.4 million viewers! Episode 3 included more behind the scenes action at the UK’s hub including air traffic control, passengers in need, and a look into the bowels of the airport… literally.

The effects of Storm Imogen on the airfield, aircraft and air traffic control were all outlined in the first segment of the episode. Heathrow’s Airside Operations Manager Simon Newbold (who also starred in BBC’s Airport Live a few years back) showed how our team on the airfield are constantly scanning for any objects that may have been blown onto the runway, with even the smallest items able to cause significant damage if ingested into aircraft engines.

In the Air Traffic Control Tower, NATS’ ATC Gavin perhaps explained the potential roll-on effects of poor weather delays at Heathrow by saying, “If Heathrow sneezes, the rest of Europe and the world catches a cold”. As Heathrow operates at 98% capacity, making it the busiest 2-runway airport in the world, even a 10 minute delay is enough to affect any number of flights around the world.

Terminal 4 Passenger Experience Manager Sunita (who also featured in Episode 2) was next up helping delayed passengers make their way to temporary accommodation. Sunita was quick to try and prioritise assisting the many elderly passengers who were awaiting a flight cancelled due to the weather (read more about weather effects here).

Two runways and number twos….

Poo. There, we said it. The episode moved on to look at trainee engineer Elliot and his engineer mentor Jon as they unblocked one of the sewerage pits in the bowels of the airport. Believe it or not, 30% of people in our Twitter poll said they thought “waste just dropped out of the bottom of the plane” when in fact it is removed from the aircraft and disposed of via pits at the airport.

Did you know there’s 10,000 tonnes of human waste taken from planes at Heathrow each year?

Viewers went from “uuuggggghhhhhh” to “awwwww” very quickly though as a series of heart warming reunions were on display in the Terminal 3 Arrivals Hall. The reuniting of Letitia and her daughter after 6 years apart (pictured below) is just one of thousands of touching stories that take place in these halls each and every year.

Air Traffic Control was again on display with Gavin describing how the early morning and night time arrivals process works (find out more on this with our new animation here).

Sue hester to the rescue, penguins, and plane spotters…

Heathrow veteran of 22 years Sue Hester quickly became a social media favourite as she carefully helped an elderly woman who, due to an accommodation mix-up, had been sleeping in one of the terminals.

Sue went above and beyond to contact the woman’s airline and organise for her to be rebooked on an earlier flight so that she could return home early. Sue’s experience and compassion shone through as she made sure the woman made it on her flight.

Next up were some passengers with some different needs – penguins! These furry animals (see below) had travelled all the way from Canada and were on their way via the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) to Birmingham Zoo!

Our most fanatical fans were up next – plane spotters! Graeme and Sandra have been coming along to Heathrow for 44 years to “spot” aircraft. Describing her hobby and passion, Sandra said, “I dream of where I could be going” and when it comes to planes, “The bigger the plane, the more I like it”. This was the perfect time to launch our 2nd #Votemeairside competition to win a tour airside – so we did!

Rounding out the series was a look at how the passenger flow teams at Heathrow manage the arrival of VIPs who have large crowds of supporters waiting. In this case it was the arrival of two Shaykh’s at Terminal 3.

Our passenger flow managers were able to make sure that other passengers using the terminal still had access to all areas, while the crowd of supporters were able to meet the Shaykhs, and they were in turn able to continue on their journey.

#Votemeairside Competition returns!

It’s back! Our Vote Me Airside competition has returned for a second year giving travel and aviation enthusiasts the chance to win a money-can’t-buy airside tour at Heathrow!

Five lucky winners will get to go airside, explore the Tarmac, take a trip up the Air Traffic Control Tower, and get to see the airport from unique vantage points. Check out some of the spectacular pics from last year’s prize winner tour, here.

Submit your entry here now.

10 June, 2016: PREVIEW | Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport Episode 3

Filmed over seven months, the series follows Heathrow’s army of 76,000 staff – from baggage handlers to air traffic controllers – as they attempt to safely process 200,000 passengers every single day, and race to get thousands of planes away on time.

In episode 3, Storm Imogen causes challenges on the runways and in the terminals for Heathrow staff and airlines. On the airfield, Heathrow’s Airside Operations Manager Simon Newbold is keeping his eyes pealed for any potentially dangerous debris that could cause damage to aircraft.

In Terminal 4, Passenger Services Manager Sunita again returns to look after dozens of passengers whose flight to Delhi has been cancelled. The experienced Sue Hester features as she helps out a passenger in need in Terminal 2.

Trainee Engineer Elliot prepares to get his hands dirty as he clears a blocked sewage pit – an essential part of the airport operation that no passenger normally sees.

Trainee Engineer Elliot with experienced engineer Jon.

Meanwhile, there are emotional reunions in arrivals and staff from the Animal Reception Centre welcome an exotic shipment of feathered friends from Canada.

Viewers will also be introduced to some of Heathrow’s most fanatical fans… plane spotters!

Win a trip to New York City! Heathrow and American Airlines competition

With ITV’s Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport lighting up the screens this June we’ve teamed up with the world’s largest airline and the city that never sleeps for an exciting competition! Enter here now.


By Heathrow

Published 13th June 2016