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Anonymous5 Jan 2011
Doews anyone know why BA doesn’t print gate numbers on boarding cards nor do they annouce them (on screens) at T5 until the plane is boarding?
In nearly all other airports I know, you can find out your gate number well in advance of your flight, but somehow at T5 this isn’t possible.
This may seem minor, but recently I’ve had a number of flights leave from B gates and, knowing that in advance, I’d have been much happier using the lounge there than the ones in the main terminal
Cheers5 Jan 2011
The answer you will probably get on here (from the BAA dislikers) is that BAA want you shopping in the main terminal, thus don’t want you disappearing directly to the gate (or worse the B gates!) too early.
The alternative answer (which VK probably supports) is that T5 is quite complex in terms of how aircraft get allocated to piers – a knock on delay with one pier not coming free means a rejig in allocations. With B (and soon C) gates the issue becomes more complex as there is no easy “return route” to the Main Terminal (A Gates), so to minimise this risk, you’re kept in the Main Terminal for as long as possible.5 Jan 2011
Speaking as someone who knows quite a bit about this, the problem is not terminal 5, but rather LHR.
The airport does not have a sufficiency of stands (the bits one parks aircraft on) to allow for much redundancy.
Although one might think that a stand is stand, in reality they have attributes, for example some have ground power, others have engineering facilities, some have different aircraft size capacities.
Stand planning at a major arport typically starts several years out from the day of operation and is linked to the slot negotiations at the bi-annual IATA conferences.
As time progresses, stands are planned based on the likely needs of the operations, e.g. a Miami flight will probably need more wheel chairs and a Narita, high yield flight would be better on a stand with a jetty, rather than remote.
During the day of operation, things diverge from plan, as JordanD says knock on effects, medical emergencies, equipment failures, change of aircraft type, low visibility disruption etc.
For that reason, the original plan often becomes unstable and is subject to heavy changes.
Bottom line, the gates are usually only known quite late in the day and very often after check in.
At other airports, the stand availability means they can have a more stable plan and allocated at -24 hours or thereabouts.
I can state as a fact (I was there) that senior managers of BA knew that terminal 5 would always involve a degree of coaching in 2001.5 Jan 2011
But something like 95% of T5 departures will use jetways once T5C opens later this year. The lack of T5C was entirely due to the need for BAA to recover some cash from the new terminal before committing to further investment.
T5D is also being mooted, though this would require the removal of the fuel farm.
You can often find out of you are on a B gate if you are able to check in with a person and also again the Lounge Dragons also usually have this information.
Passengers are not encouraged to the B gates earlier than absolutely necessary because gate allocations do indeed change last minute.
It takes quite a considerable time to return to T5A from T5B, as you must re-clear security, and this might lead to people missing flights.5 Jan 2011
“But something like 95% of T5 departures will use jetways once T5C opens later this year. The lack of T5C was entirely due to the need for BAA to recover some cash from the new terminal before committing to further investment.”
I don’t see much difference between 5% of coaching and ‘a degree of coaching’ per my post, so the above point is rather pedantic and irrelevant to this discussion.
The point is that LHR did not have the space to create a T5 with 100% of gates served by jetties, for example LAX created what they called ‘million dollar bus stops’, which were remote stands served by a small building with a jetty attached, to create overspill capacity and reduce the downsides of boarding off pier. I cannot find a pix of one on the internet, but for any regular LAX users, they are located towards the ocean end of the airport.
Even if LHR wished to create these, where would they put them?5 Jan 2011
Apologies for this one piece of thread drift, but VK, please state your source for comment you made about the lack of T5C ” due to the need for BAA to recover some cash from the new terminal before committing to further investment”. T5C was always scheduled to be opened at an interval after T5A/B, and as far as I know (or was stated at the time), this had nothing to do with cash recovery.
Disgusted – I’ve not been to LAX to see them, but similar “coaching jetties” exist (or previously existed) in CDG, where one would be bused from the main terminal to an outfield building where you could enter a building and access the plane through a jetty.5 Jan 2011
I think VK says that because T5C’s construction has been delayed but the original timeline for T5C was in fact to open in 2012. BA pushed for it to be opened earlier in 2010 and initially this was agreed, but appears to have suffered some delay and is now planned for 2011.
This delay could be because of the delay on the A380s but VK seems to have a point and it seems to be a better reason.5 Jan 2011
If you are in Club W and can determine if your flight will leave from B then go there as soon as possible. It is a haven of solace – not as crowded as Galleries in A – same food, same drink just quieter and no too far from the gates – most 747 flighst I have been on go from there.
If you are in the Concorde room stay there as long as you can – NOTHING compares !5 Jan 2011
DisgustedSwieqi: I was a victim passenger of this LAX Coach-jetty recently and was riding on a ” Million-Mile Bus” forever before deposited onto a very remote structure in the middle of nowhere. Not a nice experience at all!5 Jan 2011
FC – my condolences.
Whilst not an advocate of these things, the reasoning behind them was that the pax do not have to suffer inclement weather (rain or temperature) to the same degree as boarding directly from a bus, since they wait in a building with climate control.
And yes, I agree, they are literally ‘miles from anywhere.’ I remember it taking about 10 minutes in a car to reach one, when I did a visit to LAX to look at some ground systems.6 Jan 2011
FC – completely agree with your conclusion.
I am surprised that there was no climate control, for (unless my memory is playing tricks) I thought that was a key feature.6 Jan 2011
I have seen what you mean at LAX, and not sure if you would consider these similar, but at GVA they too have small rotundas mid field with Jetways, which are reached under ground from the main terminal. Small selection of shops in both of these mid field satellites, but what I found surprising, no lifts at any of the jetway points, so have to climb stairs. Not great for those with mobility issues, elderly, prams etc.6 Jan 2011