Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

T5 launch marred by delays and cancellations

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I do not often resort to blogging about blogging. But this is an exceptional case. Anyone who tries to keep a daily journal, or newspaper or any other medium, is going to cast about for “content” every so often. And BA really did its best to get bloggers interested in its new terminal at Heathrow, London’s largest airport. I got emails from someone there who offered me all kinds of material and “insider access” ahead of its opening. I will also admit I did ask if they would send me air tickets to attend some of their media events. I was not all surprised to learn that was not, unfortunately, possible even though I was willing to fly tourist.

Heathrow Terminal 5 under construction 2007/03/09

I have not flown by BA in recent years, so I did not use T4 – their previous Heathrow home. Air Canada flies into T2 which approaches the third circle of hell as far as my experience there is concerned. Overcrowded, long line ups for both security and overpriced coffee, immensely long treks to the gates, and nowhere quiet to sit if you did not qualify for a VIP lounge. And never once did I experience a flight delay or baggage loss, but I still did not like it.

Not all the problems on opening day were due to BA or BAA not being ready. A “a flash-mob of 250 environmental campaigners” didn’t really help – but then given the current level of frustration over the proposed third runway, some kind of event should have been anticipated. But the excuses for 2 hour luggage delays – and flight cancellations – really do sound a bit thin. And no doubt it will get better in time.

But as we note here from time to time, business as usual is no longer an option. Airport and freeway expansions in a world that is losing its ice coverage and running out of fossil fuel are not really appropriate responses to continuing rises in transportation demand. I do feel genuinely sympathetic to the unfortunate travellers promised much and disappointed – and hope that BA cares enough to give them a coupon or something (their usual response to cock ups, like being caught price fixing). But on the whole I cannot help but feel a touch of schadenfreunde.

Update – March 28 problems continue

March 29 and get worse

Written by Stephen Rees

March 27, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Air Travel

Tagged with , , ,

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