While all the publicity at the moment surrounds the opening of Terminal 5, it is easy to forget that there are significant changes happening to the other terminals at Heathrow as well.

For starters, the opening of Terminal 5 marks the closure of Terminal 2 and the Queen’s Building ahead of planned demolition to make way for the new Terminal East. As a result, there will be a major re-shuffle with over half of the airlines that operate out of Heathrow having to move to alternative terminals over the next few years. I’ve listed below how this new configuration will look:

- Terminal 1 will host members of the Star Alliance including bmi, Lufthansa, SWISS and United
- Terminal 3 will host members of the Oneworld Alliance including American Airlines and Cathay Pacific
- Terminal 4 will host members of Sky Team alliance members including Air France and KLM

Star Alliance have recently announced that Air New Zealand and United will be their most immediate movers, moving from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 on June 10th. If you are unsure, I would suggest checking with your airline before you fly or check on the BAA’s ‘Which Terminal?’ tool.

One airline I haven’t listed is our partner Virgin Atlantic who will continue to depart from Terminal 3. They have also benefitted from a refurb with a brand new, brighter, more spacious check-in area that promises to be “fast, efficient and stress free”, taking most passengers less than 15 minutes to get from check-in to the departure lounge. Even cooler is the new state of the art Drive Thru Check In for Upper Class passengers arriving by a chauffeur driven car. Most of the check-in is done in the car before arriving, leaving just a check of the travel documents and the security questions to be conducted in the airport. From there, it is just a short walk through security to the Clubhouse. Nice!

That concludes my overview of the changes happening at Terminal 5. Please post your questions and I’ll try to answer them myself or I’ll speak to the relevant partner.

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When Paul Lewis, station manager at Avis Heathrow, wrote “Help us at Heathrow”, one of our regular customers at this location, Robert, asked how we were going to service customers at the new Terminal 5.

If you’ve reserved your car, the process is pretty much the same as it currently is. Simply proceed to the bus stop (at Terminal 5, it is bus stops 24 and 25) where the Avis courtesy bus will transfer you to the Avis car hire centre to collect your car as normal. For more information on Avis Heathrow, check out Stephen’s blog post “Making car hire easy at Heathrow”.

If you have not pre-reserved a car, the process is a little different to how things have traditionally worked in an airport. Gone are the Car Rental desks to be replaced by an unmanned Car Rental Information Zone. So, instead of speaking to individual car hire companies to try and figure out which one offers the best value, you can utilise the touch screen car rental information facility and use the direct telephone line to call for a quote and to make your booking. However, for the fastest way pick up a car, proceed straight to the bus stop for the Avis car hire centre as we guarantee we will have a car available.

Little has changed to returning your car as our hire cars should be returned to the existing Avis car rental centre as normal. Again, full information is on the blog post “Making car hire easy at Heathrow”. However, as with transfers to all the other terminals, please ensure you allow 30 minutes for returning the car and transferring to the terminal.

In the near future, we are looking to introduce kerbside pick-up and return exclusive to those British Airways Executive Club members who are also members of Avis Preferred. In the meantime, I would love to hear your feedback? What do you think of the new Car Rental Information Zone? Do you have any thoughts, ideas and feedback on how we service car rental at the new Terminal 5?

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The Queen officially opened Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 on Friday with a glowing seal of approval. The news reminded me that I was planning to write a series of blog posts about the how the new Terminal affects passengers to Heathrow airport.

As you may already know, Terminal 5 will be exclusively used by our partner British Airways. I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek last month and, despite it not yet being quite the finished article, I was really excited. With passengers passing through the terminal from the 27th of March, what can you expect? Well, according to BA, it will bring the joy back into travelling!

Firstly, looks. Expect some stunning architecture. And the transport links are fantastic too with a specially constructed infrastructure. This includes a six platform rail station (with extensions to Heathrow Express and the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line) and a 3,800 space car park facility (which Rob was blogging about excitedly back in November).

The check-in area on the top floor of Terminal 5A includes a vast 96 self-service kiosks, over 90 fast bag drop-offs and 54 standard check-in desks. The baggage system uses hoists instead of the traditional baggage belts which means dropping off your luggage now forms a seamless part of your journey through departures (it is also a system that can handle over a staggering 12,000 bags an hour!). Your subsequent trip through security should be equally stress-free (and expect the same experience in arrivals too).

The BAA are also pushing the envelope with their airside retail area including the first airport restaurant from Michelin starred celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and Tiffany & Co.’s first European airport boutique. And if you’re lucky enough to be flying the right class or happen to be the right Executive Club level… well the Galleries First, Galleries Club and Concorde Rooms really to do put the enjoyment back into travel. If you would like to know more then I would suggest taking the tour on the dedicated area of the BA website. The facilities are amazing and I am expecting some very good food and wine!

To sum up, I’d say that the BAA really are pioneering the future of travel here. As far as I am concerned BA are right, it really does put the joy back into travelling!

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In the customer service department at Avis (and I’m sure throughout the car hire industry), one of the most contentious issues for our customers is damage. It’s a subject that everybody has strong opinions about and it’s not hard to see why. Any car owner will tell you that the price of repairing damage can be expensive.

We want to be transparent about what we do. So, to ensure that you are as informed as possible when hiring with Avis, here’s our process in the UK for deciding whether damage is chargeable.

When you pick up the car any existing damage will be clearly marked on your rental agreement. You will be asked to sign the rental agreement so that both parties agree that the damage noted is a fair reflection of the actual damage on the vehicle. Please ensure you check the car for damage before you leave the rental station. If it’s dark or raining, we also allow you to contact us at the next possible opportunity (usually before midday the next day) to inform us of existing damage.

When you return the car, our agents check it over, either while you’re there with our rapid return devices or at the first possible opportunity. It is a common misconception that car hire companies will try to get away with charging you for every little nick. This is not the case and we do not charge for what we consider to be general ‘wear and tear’. It’s understandable that a car can pick up small scuffs and dents throughout its life and we will not pass the cost of repairing these on to you. Our guidelines for non-chargeable damage are very clear and include:

- Scratches less than 25mm (1inch) not penetrating the surface, or light scratches that can be polished out
- Dents less than 25mm (1inch) diameter without paint cracking or flaking
- Stone chips less than 25mm (1inch) without denting
- Wheel or wheel-trim scuffs without cracking or gouging
- Interior stains or marks that can be cleaned or polished out

If damage is found that is larger than the above, we charge according to a list of prices agreed by the manufacturers and Avis. Even in the case of major damage, we will only charge up to the excess, except in rare cases where the car has been mis-used. You can reduce the excess by taking Premier Cover (or similar product in other countries) which is available at the rental counter.

At Avis, we constantly review our processes to make sure they are fair for both you and us. We’d also welcome your feedback to help us improve even further

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I’ve just read that, in a survey by Tripadvisor, London has been voted the best European city to visit by international travellers. I love London so the results certainly won’t be getting any argument from me! The survey also included a number of other ‘best’ categories. I have picked out those categories (and the winners) that you might find useful in choosing a future city break:

European City with the Best Cuisine:
1. Paris, 2. Rome, 3. Florence

European City with the Best Shopping:
1. Paris, 2. London, 3. Rome

European City with the Best Night Life:
1. London, 2. Amsterdam, 3. Paris

European City with the Best Public Parks:
1. London, 2. Paris, 3. Barcelona

Most Romantic European City:
1. Paris, 2. Venice, 3. Rome

So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the cities on these lists? And do you have a list of your own?

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While our very first blog posts were written in January last year, we did not actually launch the blog to the public until March. By my calculations, that makes the We Try Harder blog a year old this month!

I still remember waiting excitedly for the first comments to come in (sad I know), and will never forget the time when one of our shareholders wrote a comment, expressing his concern that launching a blog was not a worthwhile investment (to reassure our shareholders, creating a blog does not cost a lot!). With a year of blogging under our belt, I hope that his view has changed. Certainly as a business we’ve been able to gain a great deal of value from doing this and I hope our customers have to.

The blog has really helped us to “keep our fingers on the pulse”, allowing us to create a unique level of dialogue with our customers that was not previously possible. You’ve been able to tell us about all the things you think we should be doing (and often many of the things we shouldn’t!). And I’d like to think we’ve made a few friends along the way too. So I thank all of our customers who have visited and contributed to the We Try Harder blog so far because it is you who really make it what it is (and I think Robert deserves a special mention on this point!).

So, to mark the first year of the blog, we’ve given it a little bit of an upgrade. You may have noticed a few new features (and there will be others that are not so obvious). Now you will be able to subscribe to be updated about any new comments on a specific blog post and you can rate the helpfulness of each comment too. We will also be hosting regular polls on the blog, while the search functionality has been improved to include relevant customer comments in the search results (previously it only returned content from the actual blog posts). Other new features include the facility to rate and bookmark our blog posts. The aim of these is to encourage as much interaction and commentrary from our customers as possible, and to make all of this content more accessible.

Let us know what you think and if you have any ideas for our next upgrade. And please, please keep coming back to the blog, posting your comments and helping us to make sure the blog continues to be a helpful resource for tips, news and information on car hire with Avis!

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Please note that we have a more comprehensive and up-to-date post about hiring a car without your paper or photocard driving licence.

I recently lost my driving licence and those who know me will not be surprised that I have been a little slow to order a replacement. It’s a case of typical Rob White carelessness followed by typical Rob White laziness. Today, however, I have learned about a new way to order a replacement UK driving licence without the need to even leave my desk. I have just found out from my colleague Donna that a replacement can be ordered online!

So I logged on 10 minutes ago and ordered my replacement. It is all pretty straighforward. The main thing to remember is to have your driving licence number and passport number to hand. It doesn’t take long and you do not even need to send in a new passport photo. You still need to pay a fee as usual but I am assured by Directgov that this is the quickest way to replace your licence.

Don’t forget that if you are renting a car in the UK and you are a UK driving licence holder then we require BOTH parts of your licence. A charge will apply to run a DVLA check if one of the parts is missing. If you need to order a replacement you can do so at the Directgov website.

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Eden Project2008 is already flying by and Easter is just round the corner already!! As it’s coming a little early this year, I thought I’d give a few suggestions about what to do for you and the family. Luckily, it just so happens that one of my hard working colleagues has put together her top 10 eco days out. I’ve picked out my top 5, so if you are looking for some good, green fun this Easter, check out one of the following suggestions:

BeWilderwood, near Norwich, Norfolk – A huge forest adventure, crammed full of activities for children of all ages, including treehouses, jungle bridges and boat trips
Nature’s World, Middlesborough – An innovative place to visit, this award winning environmental centre boosts a futuristic underground Ecocentre, unique indoor tropical garden, a working River Tees model and 26 acres of organic gardens, play areas and fun trails.
Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall – Eden is home to the two largest conservatories (known as ‘Covered Biomes’) in the world. This spectacular global garden is a “Living Theatre of People and Plants”
Greenwood Forest Park, Snowdonia – This award-winning family attraction has loads to enjoy including treetop towers, a Green Dragon family roller coaster and the 70m sledge slide
Ashdown Llama Park, East Grinstead, East Sussex – Set in 30 acres of beautiful countryside with views across Ashdown Forest to Gills Lap, the park has lots for families to see and do including over 100 llamas, alpacas and reindeer, a farm trail, museum and adventure play area

Let me know if you have any ideas of your own. Also, all of us at Avis are expecting to be very busy this Easter so be sure to book early to guarantee the best price.

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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Why we love to blog

At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

We understand that hiring a car is just one part of your trip, so our blog covers other aspects of holiday and business travel too. Whether you want to know more about business travel hire conditions, access to location and city guides or ideas for families travelling with children, it’s all here.

But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.