Randomness (r_ness) wrote,

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Heathrow Terminal 5's opening day hasn't gone so well.

We all expected a certain degree of teething trouble when the new terminal opened. But stories flooding out of T5 read like something from a Benny Hill sketch.

Let’s just remember that it cost £4.4 billion to get this show on the road. Which would, you’d think, cover things like functioning escalators and an effective baggage handling system.

But, no. Instead of a super-efficient, high-gloss travel experience like you might expect in, say, Beijing’s new airport terminal, our home-grown version has seen T5’s first frustrated passengers scurrying between out of order carpark paying machines and broken escalators – only to be told that their flights have been cancelled.

Those that have arrived at T5 have been stranded in planes as gates have had to be found for their flights. They’ve then had to hang around for 90 minutes waiting for their baggage.

In fact, seven of the terminal’s first flights today left without any luggage at all. T5’s new sophisticated baggage handling system is obviously a little too sophisticated, and has done little to help British Airways’ label of losing more suitcases than any other major airline.

And, to add to the fabulous confusion, amidst the travel chaos there have been hundreds of airport expansion protestors milling around in red t-shirts.

You can almost hear the Benny Hill theme music warbling in the background as harassed BAA workers chase red-clad protestors, who trip over frazzled passengers who are chasing luggage.

It just couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Day One at Heathrow’s shiny new Terminal 5, and it suddenly all started to seem horribly familiar.

A growing mountain of misplaced bags. Angry, frustrated passengers in the arrivals hall. No announcements. No explanations of what was going wrong, that made any sense. British Airways ground staff present, but themselves bewildered with little useful information.

Long queues at the lost baggage desks filing sorry reports. Growing crowds at the baggage carousels. Passengers lying around on the cold floors because of the shortage of seats. And out front at the sales desks a growing queue of travellers trying to rebook cancelled flights.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

It is mayhem at carousel nine. Two flights were in hours ago from Los Angeles. One three-and-a half-hours ago, and still no bags. Next door passengers from Athens are still waiting for bags after two-and-a-half hours. Many have given up, filed their claims and left.

A BA ground services employee admits, “there is a shortage of staff, we are still spread across all the terminals, and there is a shortage of equipment”. Another says, “it was the volume of departing bags. It crashed the system and stopped arriving bags too”.

Not a good start to the bright new world of £4.3bn T5. They have only been planning it for 19 years.
Finally, they gave up on the whole checked-bag idea.

From http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jctHo5GEA-k7o5ZPJcNimRqf1UCg:
A disastrous opening day for Heathrow's flagship £4.3 billion Terminal 5 ended with British Airways having to suspend all baggage check-in at the new facility.

The decision, taken after a series of problems had wrecked what should have been a landmark day at the west London airport, meant travellers could only fly with carry-on hand luggage.
Tags: travel
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