diamond geezer

 Friday, March 28, 2008

Terminal 5After my obscure trip to Rutland, I thought I'd go somewhere that even fewer of you have visited. Heathrow Terminal 5. Yes, I know that some of you have been there in trials to test the luggage system (you could have tried harder, couldn't you?). And one of you was even on the first tube train into the terminal yesterday morning and had it all blogged before 9am (well beyond the call of duty, eh?). But I had the day off work, and the weather was sunny, and my camera battery was recharged, so off I went. I'm always inquisitive to see a brand new carbon-guzzling megastructure. Plus there was a brand new tube station to see, and there hasn't been one of those before since the turn of the century. Here are 25 photographs to whet your appetite. Go on, I know you want to know see what the place looks like.

www.flickr.com: my T5 gallery

Terminal 5 didn't look like a reputational disaster zone when I arrived. The underground station was clean and efficient, if architecturally uninspiring. OK, so the "next train" indicator seemed to be playing up a little, and I can't believe that a mere 6 ticket gates will be enough to stop queues from forming, but it's all functional enough. From down here there's a choice of either escalators or lifts to your above ground destination. If you're heading for Departures then make sure you take the lift, it'll save a tedious 5 floor ascent. And don't worry, nobody'll be taking your fingerprints on the way up.

T5QOoh, Departures. Very nice. From up here on the top deck you get a real sense of the size and scale of this monumental building. It's 400m from one end to the other, and you can see and walk all the way down from A to H. Look at that one-piece undulating roof, and see the hassled airport staff trying to update would-be travellers with the latest flight cancellations. Everything's been designed to work like clockwork. Automated check-in terminals are clustered close to luggage-dump desks, with a long row of non-glitzy shops and security gates behind. There are very few seats to sit on, but that's OK because the whole check-in procedure "should only take ten minutes". On a good day, that is. Yesterday there were unexpected queues, considerably longer than planned, and the "fast bag drop" desks proved embarrassingly badly named. Somewhere beneath our feet the miraculous new baggage-handling sysytem had gone very wrong indeed. Fortunate then that the world's media were on hand, lenses poised, to capture the full human drama of this very British triumph. Er, fiasco.

If you're only a sightseer nosing around the terminal (or if you suddenly find yourself with unexpected hours to spare), there's plenty to see close by. Go and peer out of the sort-of observation window on the southern wall and look down over the masses of identically-finned BA planes gathered round the terminal building. Or follow the T5 employees popping outside to the elevated coach drop-off lanes for a quick cigarette. It's surprisingly quiet out here, bar the occasional roaring jumbo, and aspiring plane spotters would appear to be untroubled by jobsworth security guards. Or maybe that's just a first day special offer. Oh and over there in the distance, somewhere across the M25, you can easily spot the famous silhouette of Windsor Castle. In common with many of her loyal south London subjects, I do wonder how the Queen gets any sleep at night.

T5 ArrivalsThere's one more level to explore, although it's nowhere near so impressive. Arrivals is on the ground floor, three escalators down. Personally I preferred the intermediate glass staircases, spaced out along the terminal building, although it's a 12 flight descent so better down than up. The Arrivals area is a bit dull, to be honest, bar the upward view of steel rods and hanging circles. Just as well that nobody's going to be hanging around here for long, waiting for three hours for relatives to collect their delayed baggage. From here it's a short walk to what T5 optimistically describes as the "Interchange Plaza". Or, in other words, the bus station. It's a bit gloomy, but it's nowhere near as bad as the miserable concrete dump round the back of Terminal 4.

I chose to depart not by bus (nor thankfully by plane) but back on the tube. And I ended up waiting for the lift with two clearly-annoyed ladies, their anger not helped by the elevator's non-appearance. Come on, where was the button to summon the bloody thing? Ah, it must be automated, we decided. That'd be why it took us to the wrong floor and sat there, doors wide open, waiting for nobody at all to get in. "We're going home," the dear ladies sighed, clutching a pair of un-checked red suitcases. "Our flight's cancelled, and we just grew tired of waiting." The lift responded by spluttering into action and slipping gradually downwards, taking British Airways' reputation with it.

n.b. A few weeks ago I was approached by a T5 marketing presence offering a variety of promotional T5 widgets and T5 images for my blog, should I be interested. There was even a special YouTube interview with Ian Bailey, designer of the Terminal 5 baggage system, which they hoped I'd link to. Well Claudio, good news, I have now.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards