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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9 Responses to “Part 1 – The lowdown on Heathrow Terminal 5”

  1. Jonathan Goodacre Says:

    “…it really does put the joy back into travelling”

    Are you serious? Have you lost your bag? Were you one of the thousands of people that were on one of the cancelled flights?

    There are some people who are never going to get their bag back. It’s a lesson in how not to run an operation/opening etc in my view.

  2. John Croome Says:

    If you want your blogs to be taken seriously, they will have to be more up to date, and more objective,than this one. How can you publish such an account of Terminal 5 — and especially its baggage handling — without saying something about the chaos that occurred when Terminal 5 actually opened?

  3. Duncan Tribute Says:

    You cannot be serious. Don’t you read the news? T5 is a new hell-hole on the Heathrow scene. For heaven’s sake, when was this piece written – certainly not in the past couple of weeks or you would want to hide your faces too! T5 is the major PR disaster of the decade for both British Airways and for BAA, (the ex British Airports Authority), who now wish to be known simply as BAA, following their acquisition by the Spanish!
    Try harder, wise up and re-write this piece tonight or delete it all together!

  4. David Howard Says:

    In view of the globally publicised debacle at Terminal 5 in the last two weeks, it is at best misguided to publish this outdated article, written some three weeks ago, which has clearly been overtaken by events – in a big way. In this instance you are not trying very hard to keep your customers informed with up-to-date news & comment.

  5. keith Wallace Says:

    Improvement – just another BAA / BA disaster. Its the worst airport in the world, and all those who thought T5 would improve things are sorley disappointed. What is it with LHR, are we destined to always be treated like second rate nation we have become. Why can poorer countries than ours run more efficent International Airports. BA and BAA should be ashamed of themselves – but then who cares about passenger satisfaction in the UK anyway! If Gordon Brown had his way, none of us would be travelling anywhere!

  6. Xavier Vallee- Head of Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Garry, John, Duncan, David, Keith – You’re right, it has been a difficult start for Terminal 5, its operator BAA and British Airways.

    I wrote this blog post prior to the launch of Terminal 5. I had the opportunity to experience Terminal 5 first-hand prior to the official launch and it did get the office buzzing with excitement about the facilities. We wrote about it because we wanted to share this excitement with our customers and provide an overview of what to expect. During this visit BA and BAA were adamant that they tested the luggage system by passing through 12,000 luggage of different shapes and weights every week. I guess that wasn’t enough. This post is a good testament of how we felt at the time.

    Unfortuately, since T5 opened for business there has been little to get excited about. I sincerely hope this changes, that things are turned around and that T5 will start to be operated as the high class facility it was originally designed to be. I decided not to comments about the problems of T5 for two reasons: it was pretty well covered by the major news agencies and this is not the objective of this blog.

    In the meantime, despite some concerns, we will leave this blog post live because we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to express their opinion, good or bad, and that this blog is an appropriate platform for expressing this opinion. It would be great to engage in a discussion on this. How do you think BA and the BAA will recover from this? Despite all the issues do you believe that Terminal 5 has the potential to be a great facility once the dust is settled? All comments are welcome!

  7. Robert Says:

    I sincerely hope and see no reason why T5 should not eventually become the great facility it was meant to be.
    It is just a huge shame that after all the hype BA pumped us with for months on end it turned out to be such a shambles.
    I think the fact that no one has yet to pay the price for this is outrageous.
    I have no doubt that WW need to say bye-bye to BA.
    I think the decision they made today to postpone the second move to June is the wisest decision they have made in a long time.
    I can honestly say that as a BA Gold card holder, I am extremely disappointed, and just hope they can some how recover from this.
    In the meantime I am staying away from T5 untill they get it right.

  8. Christopher Rosevear Says:

    The operations heads at BA have now paid the price – 2 resignations/firings without the normal golden escape parachute. For those seeking retribution I suppose that will help. Personally I see no great victory in blaming just two people when so many thousands were involved.

    If you look back on the replacement to Hong Kong’s airport, you will see (though well suppressed) a similar fiasco. So perhaps people should grin and look forward to better times rather than for ever grinding on about second-rate facilities! And what peope forget is that Heathrow was a converted war-time facility, never a new build like Schipol or Dallas. So now, finally, terminals 1-3 can be scrapped and rebuilt to saner logic. We pay the price for being the first in…

  9. Duncan Tribute Says:

    Clearly, with the right training provisions and induction time for all staff to be able to operate within T5, there should be nothing to stop this new terminal operating at 100%. However, it really is time for Willie to Walk and for the pace to be forced upon BA to move all their services into T5 as origianlly planned on April 30th, or the dislocation of all other airlines’ terminal repositioning plans will go seriously awry, further degrading the international reputation of Heathrow as a world class hub.

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