Heathrow’s Terminal 2 Opens

London Heathrow Terminal 2

Heathrow’s airy new Terminal 2 – the Queen’s Terminal – opened Wednesday for United Airlines. Yep, United had 17 departures and arrivals on Day One at T2. No other airlines were invited to the party.

The first aircraft, a Boeing 767 red-eye from Chicago landed just before 6 a.m. and 178 passengers were greeted by airport staff in Beefeater costumes. Waiting in anticipation, someone ordered the first pint in the new terminal at Wetherspoons pub at 4:05 a.m., reports The Guardian.

After four years of construction, T2 is opening in stages to avoid the debacle of 2008 when Terminal 5 opened and luggage, passengers and even employees were swallowed up in chaos. Days after the opening there were still 14,000 unclaimed bags at T5.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will preside over the official opening of T2 on June 23.

By the end of the year, the new terminal’s 28 gates will have slots for more than 20 airlines (mostly Star Alliance affiliations), including Air China, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Virgin’s domestic operation Little Red. Air Canada moves over later this month. They expect 15.8 million passengers annually but can handle up 20 million.

The old T2 with its stunning lack of decorum was built to handle 1.2 million passengers, but did its utmost to antagonize everyone by handling 8 million before it closed in 2009 after 54 years of service. Queen Elizabeth II presided at its opening, too.

The new T2 boasts 29 security lanes, 33 shops selling everything but jet fuel and 17 restaurants (chef’s knives are chained to the table for security reasons).

Departing passengers can use any kiosk in the terminal for self-service check-in, which is billed as a world first. Is that true from your experiences?

“The most important argument for expansion is credibility with passengers,” Colin Matthews, the outgoing airport CEO told The Guardian.

Matthews was at Heathrow for the T5 opening hell. This time he was in the airport’s crisis contingency center “set to alert ministers if embarrassing history repeated itself.” But by11a.m. he was reported to be at T2 ordering a pizza.

The Tarmac’s View: Heathrow has been on a spending spree and may be gaining a rare quality in an airport – making you want to fly. Officials have to prove that they’re capable of expanding because more than anything they want a third runway and another new terminal alongside it. A seamless opening of T2 is very much part of proving they’re up to the job of delivering new infrastructure.

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • dalgrnd at 4:52pm June 06, 2014

    “Departing passengers can use any kiosk in the terminal for self-service check-in, which is billed as a world first. Is that true from your experiences?”

    No. SJO has these already.

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