Having had my first experience of Heathrow Terminal 5 this week, I was expecting from all the media reports something not much better than the original Heathrow Aerodrome of 1946, including the tents !!
I’m pleased to say overall, I was very happy with the experience, however there are still a few problems, but all of these can be linked to problems of management rather than of design or technology.
For example BAA claims you can pass from check-in, through security, to airside within 10 minutes and have installed many robotic controlled x-ray machines which, cleverly collect empty trays used for jackets etc, and move them to the front of the machine.
All very neat, but what is the point of all this technology, if you only chose to operate 2 of the 8 machines at the northern end of the terminal on a Tuesday morning, resulting in long queues and a wait time of nearer 30 minutes.
I know the unused machines were serviceable as when I reached the front of the line, three more x-rays machines were switched on by additional staff !!
Once passed security you have to admire the architecture of the building, you are greeted by the unusual sight at Heathrow of windows allowing natural light into the building, and a good selection of shops including for the tech people out there, a PC World complete with mini-apple store and a Nokia store. If you are looking for a cheap Macbook Air in the UK, this may be the place, the spotty youth in PC World sold one while I was watching.
The only other minor mishap of my T5 experience was the BA staff at my gate not knowing how to change the plasma screens to let the expectant passengers know that the flight was boarding, a case of “which button is it I need to press..”
Overall a huge improvement on T1-4 and nowhere near as bad as the media makes out, of course if you were a passenger in the first few days your experience was a nightmare, but as of today T5 is nearly there, just need to replace a few more of the monkeys in charge and T5 will be great.
Written and submitted from Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, using the public 802.11 network.