Terminal 5. A Survival Guide.

Today marks my eighth visit to London Heathrow’s flagship, the infamous Terminal 5. After my initial problems with this behemoth, I am starting to make my peace with it. I have no other choice, do I? So, here are my preliminary findings on how to make your stay at T5 as comfy as possible.

Checking in:

After the initial disastrous baggage handling, this seemed to have settled down (my bass guitar made it twice safely through T5), but it’s certainly not particularly fast (especially compared to Luton), so just don’t take that many frocks with you and limit yourself to hand luggage. If you have hand luggage, checking in takes literally 30 seconds thanks to the availability of numerous check-in terminals.


Security is thorough. Very thorough. If you forget that tube of toothpaste, a deodorant or some hairspray in your hand luggage, your stuff will inevitably be checked manually, and these guys take their time. You will also have to wait your turn for your mano a mano search. Today’s waiting time for a individual bag check was 30 minutes, so you better make sure that glass of Nutella is either in your checked in luggage or at home.

Gate A7. A nice place in a busy Terminal

Rest and Relax

There are numerous food outlets (my favourite being Wangamama, for the best mix of value, taste and location) and plenty of places to put your feet up, but if you just want a quiet spot to charge up your laptop and do some quiet blogging away from the masses (of which there are plenty), head to gate A7 with a coffee and a muffin and enjoy excellent views of one of the two runways, virtually empty seats and plenty of sockets to recharge your laptops.

If you fly Business or First, the Executive Club’s South Galleries are excellent spaces just under the roof of the Terminal with a good mix of food and drinks, but you’ll be invariably exposed to some rich American couple next to you who wants to talk to you about their daughter in Arkansas and the bad food and those horrible nude statues in Italy, so Gate A7 is probably quieter.

British Airways’ Executive Club Lounge. Comfy, but there’s the potential of harrassment

In quintessence: Don’t fret too much when going through T5. At present it’s quite comfy, but be afraid of the time when BA transfers all their long distance routes to the Terminal, as the place is going to be bursting with people, and Gate A7 won’t give respite no more.

T5. It’s not pretty. Not at all.

These days I feel very, very sorry for the employees of BA. Especially those working in Terminal 5. When, 2 days ago, our friendly captain finally flew us out of Aberdeen and Heathrow, he was quite optimistic that we would arrive with only 1 hour delay. But then the rainclouds hit London, and we put into a holding pattern over Heathrow. After finally landing, we waited twenty minutes parked in front of our gate waiting for someone to switch on the guidance system and man the airbridge. A clearly exasperated captain sounded very cynical during his last cabin broadcasts. Poor bloke. When we finally got off, we were 2 hours late and I had missed my connecting flight. Inside T5 things felt very unfinished. Screens weren’t working, cables were dangling freely around. The three BA members organising me a flight with a different airline were sounding very hopeless.

One said he feels like a clown in a circus of Shatnerian proportions and the only thing left for them was smile.

Terminal 5: The revenge.

I know I shouldn’t have made fun of Terminal 5. Now I’m sitting here at Aberdeen Airport, waiting for my flight to Terminal 5 to leave. And of course it’s delayed by 45 minutes. That means I will quite likely miss my connecting flight.

BA will always have its revenge. If I would be William Shatner, I would probably raise my hands to the sky and yell “Khaaaaaaaaannnnnn”.

Or would “Willlliiiiiiieeeeee!!!!” be more appropriate?

Terminal 5 live.

Meet BA Director of Operations Gareth Kirkwood, the most embarassed man alive, announcing that Terminal 5 at Heathrow turned out to be a disastrous mess on day one. Beautiful (the terminal, that is), but still a mess.

That’s not a happy man, that.