Terminal 5 disruption continues

BAA’s £4.3 billion Heathrow T5 officially opened for business yesterday, but problems with baggage handling systems have led to disruption and delays.

‘Teething problems’ with baggage systems at the new terminal led to a total of 68 short-haul and domestic flights (34 inbound and 34 outbound) being cancelled on the opening day, with the same number facing the axe today. This equates to 20 per cent of all daily flights at the terminal, although BA says that all long-haul flights will operate.

Several flights took off yesterday without luggage on board due to the system fault, and at one stage all luggage check-in was suspended. To add to disruption the terminal also faced a “flash mob” protest against Heathrow. BA blamed the problems on delays at the staff car park and at security, and log in problems for baggage handlers reporting for duty. Passengers are advised to check ba.com for the latest flight information.

The first flight into T5 was BA026 from Hong Kong, arriving at 0450, with the first departure being flight BA302 bound for Paris at 0620. Once the disruption settles British Airways will serve 70 per cent of its Heathrow flights from T5, including all short-haul flights previously departing from T4, and all long-haul flights which had operated from T1. On April 30 a second stage will see T4 long-haul flights (with a few exceptions) moving to T5.

In other news, BAA has dropped plans to fingerprint domestic passengers at T5. The operator had wanted to fingerprint these passengers to make it impossible for a passenger to arrive into T5 on a transit flight, exchange boarding passes with another traveller in the common departure lounge, and board a domestic flight to enter the UK without being checked by immigration authorities.

But the plans have been put on hold as BAA has been warned such practices may breach data protection laws, even though prints are immediately encrypted, and destroyed after 24 hours.

For more information visit baa.com, and for a comprehensive look at T5 see the April edition of Business Traveller.

Report by Mark Caswell

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  • Having traveled through T5 this morning on the BA1434 to Edinburgh I can safely say that BA’s ability to get an aircraft off the ground on time has not improved.

    Overall the new terminal is great and one would expect teething problems such as no papers in the lounge, the car park ticket machines not working but for BA to have no push back tugs available is a farce. We were delayed in boarding, we waited for the paper work to be completed (the captain mentioned so issues getting everything together on the first day) and then we waited 40 minutes for a tug. Hence being and hour and 15 minutes late arriving into Edinburgh

    Surely with the billions spent on a new terminal and facilities BA could at least have enough tugs and staff to push aircraft back from the stands. This is a basic element of airline ops.

    Come on BA, you are continuing to let yourselves and your most loyal customers down. Its back to BMI and a quietTerminal 1 for me

  • You could not make it up. Yet again BA and BAA fail to take their customers seriously. There is a lot of talk about the move to T5 being unique. That is complete nonsense. All over the world new terminals are being opened without glitches. A number of years ago when Munich shifted its entire operation to the new airport Lufthansa and the other operators out of MUC managed the move overnight. This is just another example of the arrogance of BA and BAA. The only good thing is that finally there is some space in T1 for seemless travel with the Star Alliance, something BA and Oneworld haven’t even managed for T5.


    …BBC news 31/3/08.

    Thats a suprise huh?

    Have to be checked in of course, as its flamable…so chances are, it will go the way of the other customers’ path…

    However, maybe it would be eventually recovered, along with the re-matched 28,000 BA bags currently piled up.
    Lets hope the flame is well sourced, & has a wick to last…

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