Apart from the lost passports, the panicky discussions with the embassy, the scary drive, the delays, the missing suitcase, the damaged-in-transit baby seat, the jet lag and the huge bloody hole the electricity board has dug in my driveway… it’s good to be back. I might even blog about something soon, most likely Terminal 5 – a shopping centre with a runway attached and where *nothing* works. It really is quite remarkable.
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Welcome back. And blimey.
>a shopping centre with a runway attached and where *nothing* works. It really is quite remarkable.
And this is different from any other UK airport – or indeed terminal at heathrow – how?
I think the difference is that with other UK airports, the shops were retrofitted in buildings that were actually designed to be airports – whereas T5 seems to have been designed as a retail/restaurant mall, built as a mall and then someone went “oh fuck! We need a bit for the planes!”
We were there at a quiet time (early Sun morning) before all the BA stuff moves, and the seating was hopelessly inadequate even then. Reports that most of the seating is in the restaurants are entirely accurate, and I think it’ll be an utter hell-hole come high summer. I’d definitely rather go somewhere via Schipol than T5. Come to think of it, I’d rather eat my own buttocks than go via T5.
The level of incompetence is breathtaking, it really is. 2/3 of the lifts don’t work. Half of the security terminals’ PCs don’t appear to work. Our flight was delayed because the radar packed up in the control tower “due to the weather” (it was overcast). The bogs don’t flush, the hand dryers don’t work, etc etc etc.
And of course, the baggage system is quite spectacularly terrible. I was sitting in Miami reading a magazine article about T5 and how brilliant everything was going to be, and I ended up reading it from behind my fingers in appalled fascination. On luggage: “When that barcode is scanned, nothing can go wrong,” etc etc etc.
There was a good article in The Observer (I think) about how flying has had every last molecule of glamour or pleasure removed from it, and T5 typifies that.
It’s funny, it’s the most American airport we have, but it’s American via Chinese whispers (terrible turn of phrase, I know). US airports are rubbish for shopping once you’re through security – it’s all seats, seats, seats. Which is dull if you’re delayed, but at least you can park your arse. T5 is brilliant for shopping if you’re delayed, but not much cop if you’re broke, knackered or fancy a lie-down in a quiet corner.
We didn’t exactly take the easy route on our holiday. Flew Belfast to Gatwick, Gatwick to Pisa, hired a car, drove to Livorno, got the ferry to Bastia, drove across Corsica to Calvi. And you know what? The only difficult bit was Gatwick. Taking a toddler on a plane’s a bit awkward but OK. Driving across Corsica is lovely. Driving in Italy’s kind of crazy but we were only going about twenty miles. Corsica Ferries are superb. And Gatwick is hell, hell, hell, hell, hell. In future, I would actually take an even more convoluted route if it meant avoiding London airports. They’re not worth it. They negate your holiday.
And I hear T5’s worse than the others. I hadn’t thought that was possible.
Hey Gary – your holiday sounds like it terminated in all sorts of fun! :)
I’m in Tokyo just now, having navigated my way through Heathrow’s Terminal 5. I have to say, I was expecting the worse but thankfully, Claire and I arrived safe and well (with our luggage) at Narita, Tokyo.
As I said, I’d been expecting the worst but everything seemed to go smoothly. I know exactly what you mean about it being a glorified shopping mall but I really wasn’t expecting much else.
Worst thing about all of this is all other carriers are bunging their prices up to BA levels because folk are looking for alternatives. That, and the current “crunch” (tossers) situation, has meant me having to abandon one transatlantic journey this year and is jepordising the other.
Florida? Are Sony getting more extravagant with their viral marketing campaigns?
Heh. No, holiday. Or rather, a baby clothes shopping trip :)