It's been years in the making and cost 4.4 billion to build, but the new Terminal 5 building at Heathrow has still opened in total disarray. One in five flights have been cancelled due to baggage getting lost. Passengers have ended up sleeping on the gleaming new floors. Rumours abound that some staff couldn't even get into the staff car park.
There will doubtless be plenty of finger pointing and heads will roll - quite probably at both British Airways and BAA the airport operator... I'm amazed that a company like BA with decades of experience in customer service can have ended up in such an awful mess. It's about as bad a PR disaster as you could imagine. A couple of thoughts:
1) BA road tested the terminal extensively - at least that's what we were told. Some 25,000 volunteers were asked to help trail the services and technology.
2) BAA has been regularly critised for under investment and poor airport management.
Taking these two facts into account, I wouldn't be at all surprised if most of the blame sticks with BAA. The sooner its near monopoly on London airports is broken up the better. Heathrow in particular is a hellish place and no amount of new terminals will make much difference. As a regular flyer I do anything I can to avoid it....
The brazeness of the retail operation in
particular is flabbergasting. Clear security in T3 for example and you find yourself on a
wide pathway which it's natural to follow... It's actually the most
indirect route possible to the gates... winding through all the shops
and restaurants first. If you're in a hurry and don't know your way
around you're stuffed! To get to the gates quicker take a sharp right off the pathway and then left past the restaurants. If ever you needed a more clear example of a business putting profit before customer convenience this is it.