3rd August 2014 at 18:59 #545289
Anonymous3rd August 2014 at 18:59 #545290
On Wednesday 09th July 2014 Aer Lingus moved their operation from Heathrow Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. This heralded the end of the much criticised “green mile”.
I had already experienced the new terminal facilities on the first day Aer Lingus used it and was very impressed. The sole negative that day was that the Gold Circle lounge wasn’t open. I was therefore looking forward to my next visit to Heathrow T2.
My wife and I needed to travel to London on Saturday 02 August 2014, and duly made our reservation on Aer Lingus.com. Using Aer Lingus’ 30 day advance check in facility, we printed our boarding passes (for both flights) thus avoiding the need to go to the check in area.
Saturday morning is usually a busy time at Dublin airport, and this particular Saturday there was torrential rain since the small hours, so we decided to be a little cautious and arrived @ 5.30am for our 07.40 flight. Aer Lingus Gold Circle membership allows the use of Fast Track security, and this meant we were airside within a couple of minutes.
We parked ourselves in the Gold Circle lounge, which is a very pleasant place to wait. Cereal, fruit, pastries & coffee made a very acceptable continental breakfast, and we settled in to wait for our flight to board.
Looking out towards the apron, the heavy rain showed no signs of easing off, yet the many staff members braved this to load luggage, move aircraft, etc. This was a busy time for departing aircraft, but no disruptions arise as a result of the weather. Watching various aircraft taking off, it was obvious from the huge trail of spray behind, that there was a lot of rainfall on the runways.
Having reviewed aer lingus’ flights from Dublin on many occasions, I will refrain from so doing here, save to mention that the aircraft was in it’s usual immaculate condition and the crew very welcoming indeed.
During the flight, an announcement was made asking if there was a medical professional on board as a passenger had taken ill. As it happened, there was a medic on the flight, and the passenger was treated. It was necessary to have medical services awaiting our arrival at Heathrow, and to assist with treatment, the Captain asked all passengers to remain seated until this passenger had been treated by the arriving medical staff.
After a few minutes, passengers seated forward of row 22 were invited to disembark, and this was done in a very orderly way indeed. The cabin crew are to be commended in the professional, diplomatic and humane way they dealt with this unexpected issue. It is our hope that the passenger concerned made a swift and full recovery.
The airbridge has full length windows, making the walk to the terminal very bright and cheerful, particularly after leaving a rainy Dublin!
A short walk through the large baggage hall, and were landside. It is only as short walk from there to the Underground station. Having landed @ 8.51am, I topped up my Oyster Card @ 9.18am. This is a remarkably short timeframe, given the circumstances.
By any standards, this is a huge improvement over the “green mile” experience.
We returned to Heathrow by tube, and it is a short walk from the Underground Station to the terminal building. Aer Lingus use Zone 3, and plenty of check-in desks (including a Gold Circle desk) were clearly visible. Having already checked in on-line, we proceeded to security which is directly behind the check in area.
In T1, security staff scanned passengers boarding cards, took a photograph which was re-confirmed before entering the UK/Ireland departures area. In T2, this process is self service, and the secondary photographic check is at the boarding gate.
The security screening area is directly behind these cameras, and was very quiet. As with all public areas in T2, it is very spacious, and with plenty of natural light. We were quickly airside. Security staff are very friendly and efficient. Being relatively quiet, only a few staff were on duty, but there is ample space to expand the number of operational xray aisles when other airlines move the T2.
From leaving the Underground station to getting airside took exactly 20 minutes. This is a huge time saving over the T1 experience, and much more pleasant.
The security screening area leads to a mezzanine overlooking the departure lounge where there is a range of high end shops and plenty of restaurants to choose from. A glass wall gives good views of the apron, and there are plenty of seats.
Literally a few steps from the security area is the Gold Circle lounge….oh so much closer than the one at the end of the green mile!
Ann was on duty and warmly welcomed us to the new lounge. Our immediate impression was of a large space with floor to ceiling windows allowing in lots of natural light. Ann noticed that we were booked on the last flight, and offered to move us to an earlier flight to avoid too long a wait. This we gratefully accepted, and surely this gesture speaks volumes for Aer Lingus customer care.
The new lounge is very spacious and decorated in a similar fashion to it’s sister in Dublin. There are many types of seats, and an abundance of power points. This is a thoughtful point given that many passengers routinely use several devices.
The huge windows not only make the lounge very bright, they offer great views of the apron. While we were there, a huge variety of arlines and aircraft went past, making it a plane spotters dream.
There is a small business area for those needing to work, and two cubicles complete with tables & chairs for holding meetings.
As well as large TV screens on walls, there is a huge video multi screen display of a constantly running waterfall. Sitting in front of this is particularly relaxing.
The lounge has its own restrooms (using L’Occatine Toiletries) and showers. I didn’t use the showers, but the restrooms are excellent.
There is a full bar with a good range of soft and alcoholic drinks.
Food consisted of:
• Soup (Chicken)
• Bread rolls
• Walkers biscuits
• Rice cakes.
• Fresh fruit
A nice touch is that cheeses, butter & spreads were stored on a refrigerated stand. The crockery and cutlery are all new, and of high quality. Personally, I would have liked the choice of something a little more substantial, but I realise cost plays an important role in choosing what food to offer. That said, salads, tomatoes, cold cuts would (along with additional bread rolls) might just offer an alternative to (more expensive) sandwiches.
Due to the continued heavy rainfall in Dublin, there was some disruption to departures from Heathrow. Ours, EI 179 was delayed by 20 minutes to 20.30hours. Shortly after 8pm, the information showed our flight as “boarding” and we made our way to the gate. It is down the escalator outside the lounge, turn right and a few yards away is the Aer Lingus boarding area.
The secondary biometric scan is done at the boarding area; as we had changed flights, we were asked to go to a separate desk, where a very friendly official completed the process, and wished us a pleasant flight.
As usual the airbus 320 was immaculate, and cabin crew warmly greeted passengers.
The captain welcomed passengers and apologised for the delay (caused by the poor weather all day long in Dublin). He outlined our route and expected flight time, which was only 45minutes.
Cabin crew gave a safety demonstration, and we pushed back at 8.30pm. Geraldine and her team made the flight very pleasant, and we landed in a wet Dublin @ 9.35pm, barely 10 minutes behind schedule. I was pleased to find that we had parked at the gate nearest the terminal building, meaning a short walk to passport control.
The key question is whether the four main benefits as advertised actually materialize?
• Public transport within 15 minutes of landing:
o From past experience, I can confirm that this is definitely the case.
• Luxurious Gold Circle Lounge within minutes of check in
o The lounge is almost beside the security area, and is a great improvement over the old lounge. The floor to ceiling windows offer views and it is a very pleasant place to wait for a flight.
• State of the art facilities
o The new baggage hall, check-in area, public transport connections are excellent.
• A seamless faster security and check in process.
o The new security staff are friendly, and the area is very large, so coping with increased passenger numbers should not be an issue. A 20 minute timeframe from Tube to Airside is excellent
Aer Lingus’ advertising for the Dublin-Heathrow route promises the best Terminal to Terminal in Europe. Based on my experiences to date, I certainly agree.
Aer Lingus now offer a much improved service on the Dublin London route, and deliver a product for frequent travelers which greatly exceeds that of their competitor on this route.
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