Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Turmoil at Terminal 5

Yesterday was my first venture to the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow. I was a bit wary as it has been plagued by all sorts of issues since opening the end of March. I have since heard that during all the run-throughs they did prior to opening many problems were uncovered and none of the trials went smoothly, however this didn't stop them from opening on schedule.

Things did not bode well for me as we approached the terminal and were redirected away due to an accident. Not sure if there was another way to the terminal but my taxi driver certainly didn't know of any so I was taken to Terminal 5 to get the train to the terminal. There are no direct trains from T4 to T5 which means taking the train to Heathrow Central then getting a connection to T5, luckily this didn't take that long.

No major issues at security, maybe it was because many people couldn't get to the terminal. The only issue I had was while standing there I was absolutely blinded by the sun. The terminal is completely glass while that is pretty it is not practical as the sun is rising.

The next minor glitch was in the elevator to the train to the departure gate. There is a sign next to the buttons that says -2 for trains, -4 for something else. The buttons however are labelled -3
and -5. For future reference button -3 takes you to the train for the gates.

Surprisingly after all the delays I still had a few minutes to spare before my flight so I decided to grab a bite to eat. As a responsible citizen after I was done I looked around for a garbage can to dispose of my trash but none could be found anyway near the gate. I guess having rubbish bins around would take away from the new sleek look of the terminal, much better to have empty coffee cups, and food wrappers lying around on the tables and chairs.

And on a parting note I was a little surprised when the driver told me the fare would be 25.50, the fare to Heathrow has always been 18.50. Unfortunately I only had a 20 on me so he had to deal with that. I called the company to find out why I wasn't told the fare to T5 was more than all the other terminals and the response I was given.

"T5 is 5 miles further away from T1. All other car services from Richmond are charging 30 we're the cheapest" That didn't really answer the question as to why when I booked the dispatcher did not tell me the fares would be more than I normally pay. I was finally told that the dispatcher made a mistake and I should have been told that it would cost more. Personally I think they are a bunch of shysters to charge more for one terminal than any of the other 4. Why they use T1 as the marker for distance between terminals is beyond me, probably because T1 and T5 are the furthest apart from each other so they feel justified charging more.

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