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Learning English - Words in the News
31 March, 2008 - Published 13:02 GMT
Heathrow Terminal 5 chaos
Bags have been piling up at Heathrow

Flight cancellations at the new Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow airport look set to continue for several days. The chaos is due to problems with the baggage handling system. About 15,000 bags are stranded across all terminals. This report from Mark Worthington:

Listen to the story

The fourth day of its short life and yet again Terminal five at London's Heathrow airport is proving an embarrassment. British Airways cancelled thirty-seven short-haul flights on Sunday to ease the strain on the baggage system.

Behind the scenes, four hundred volunteers were working to clear a huge backlog. Fifteen thousand bags, mostly belonging to transit passengers, are piling up all over the airport. Reuniting them with their owners could cost millions of pounds and even more if those passengers take their business elsewhere.

Further cancellations are planned for Monday and Tuesday. British Airways says it still hopes to move much of its long-haul operation to the new terminal at the end of April but that is being kept under review and, all the time, British Airways' international reputation is suffering.

Mark Worthington, BBC News, Heathrow airport

Listen to the words

is proving an embarrassment
here, is showing that it cannot function properly, damaging passengers' opinion of it

short-haul flights
planes that travel relatively short distances (opposite: long-haul)

to ease the strain
to lessen the pressure

Behind the scenes
if something happens behind the scenes, it happens without most people knowing about it, especially when something else is happening publicly

people who do something (especially helping others) willingly, without being forced or paid to do it

to clear a huge backlog
here, to deal with a large amount of bags that should have been dealt with before

transit passengers
passengers who have arrived at one airport (here, Heathrow) from other airports and continue travelling elsewhere (without staying long at Heathrow)

are piling up
here, more and more bags are being put one on top of another

is being kept under review
has not yet been finally decided

international reputation
the opinion that people across the world have about someone or something (here, about British Airways)

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