Terminal 5: the true horror
No, I have not had the misfortune to visit the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow today, Thursday. But the husband has. Though, happily for him, he was arriving rather than trying to leave (hand baggage only, if your flight wasn’t cancelled).
The whole experience started brightly enough. The check-in at Athens was serving champagne (and juice for the minors) to celebrate T5 day. But things got darker pretty quickly when he discovered that, owing to problems at the new Terminal, the flight was delayed by two hours.
When it did finally take off, the cabin crew had stories that went rather beyond the official line of “teething troubles with the baggage system”.
They had apparently turned up for work as usual this morning, but with no information on the security system for entry to Terminal 5, which slowed down their getting onto the planes considerably -- and started the rot.
The flight itself was fine and made up some of the lost time, but when it got to Heathrow, the plane sat on the tarmac for most of the time that it had made up, then another 15 minutes while they tried to get the jet-way to link to the plane.
The scene on the ground was reminiscent of a police state, rather than a cradle of democracy. The most prominent officials were not those of BA, nor even the battalions of electricians trying to patch the system up, but larger battalions of burly cops carrying their prominent military hardware.
But no one in any kind of uniform could tell him either how to get to the Piccadilly line (were they on commission to Heathrow Express?), nor which loos might be in working order (answer: one in the departure lounge). When he did finally get to the tube (again via the departure lounge) the automatic gates refused to take the return to Heathrow he had bought at Cambridge. No point in changing his mind now. By this time he’d been told that the Heathrow Express wasn’t working anyway.
We’ve read all these articles about the dry runs being practised at this Terminal for weeks. Did none of these pretend first class arrival passengers from Sydney ask for the Piccadilly line? Or expect a working loo?
The irony was that the new BA glossy brochure about the wonders of T5 arrived this very morning. “So calm, you’ll just flow through . . .” it promised. “Intuitive design makes your journey through Terminal 5 easy and carefree”, accompanied by a picture of one of the 131 escalators.
Great if they’re working.