I WILL SOON be able to experience the delights of the 100 Feet Road because I’m writing this from Terminal 5 Heathrow on my way to Bangalore.
Just out there for a couple of weeks this time round but I’m used to getting away from the freezing cold weather here in Old Blighty, and to the sunshine, flowers and butterflies of Bangalore. See you on the other side! ♦
FLEW OUT yesterday to Bengalaru and I was a Terminal Five virgin, because BA has finally switched practically all of its frights to the new big place at Heathrow.
I was lucky enough to be in one of the lounges and they’re certainly massive enough – you have clear views of what look like carefully cultivated acres of dull grey stones, and above you are girders, girders and more girders.
But there’s something about the place that makes you feel like you’re in a Jean-Paul Satre novel – I felt either half alive or half dead, and most of the other passengers looked that way too. And most of the staff for that matter. There’s something very very soulless about T5.
That feeling is even more pronounced in the vast shopping mall that is T5. Endless rows of glossy shops less than half full, and such a feeling of space above that you’re reduced to what you are – an insignificant little bit of data being shoved at vast expense into silvery tubes and shipped out to points on the moral compass.
And so after nine hours or so, we arrived at BIAL – you’ll recall that we were one of the first to fly out from the new Bangalore airport. Lobbed in at 4AM in the morning, we found immigration and everything else to be painless – despite large queues of people, we were all “processed” politely and swiftly so before a twitch of a lamb’s tail, we were facing the Louis Vuitton sculpture once again.
And at 4:45AM, the drive into Indiranagar from the BIAL airport was hitch free and swift – we made it back to the Centre of Laundry Excellence in only an hour and five minutes. ♣
WE’RE FRYING out of Heathrow tomorrow, via Virgin, so we’re naturally keeping an eye on the continuing chaos at Terminal Five.
We’re astonished to see that British Airways has a vision, and that vision means it will change the way you fly forever – that is to say, avoiding BA, presumably, and the shopping mall which includes such well known high street names as, er, Harrods.
This BA page says that the aim of Terminal Five is to replace the queues, the crowds and the stress with space, light and calm.
“The £4.3 billion building is so light, modern and spacious that it’s hard to believe it’s an airport terminal at all.”
Well, it certainly was hard to believe that yesterday. And today one in five frights have been cancelled.
The page continues that there will be huge improvements in punctuality and baggage, with the state of the art system designed specifically for Terminal 5 using “proven technology”.
What a debacle. And BA wouldn’t or couldn’t even find hotels to put up its jilted passengers who were forced to bed down in the “most luxurious air lounge in the world” last night.
Yes, certainly it is a “new era in air travel”. ♦
AS IF HEATHROW AIRPORT ISN’T HORRID enough already, when Terminal Five opens this later this week the British Airports Authority (BAA) as was – now it’s owned by a Spanish company, wants to take our fingerprints if we tip up in its cavernous hall.
The problem is that domestic and international travellers will mingle with each other in the shopping areas of Term Five – and BAA claims it wants to prevent the possibility of an international passenger meeting a domestic passenger when they meet in Harrods or another grocer emporium in the airport and swap boarding cards.
Yeah, well this has caused quite a bit of a stink here in Compliant Blighty. The Information Commissioner has said BAA has got no right to go fingerprinting anyone it wants to, while BAA has said it consulted with the Immigration Department and this is what it recommended.
BAA reckons that it will get rid of the fingerprints within 24 hours and they’ll be encrypted, but it misses the fundamental point that it’s a commercial outfit, and no one has granted it any rights to take dabs apart from itself. The Information Commissioner reckons that any passengers facing finger printing should just say no to the insecurity guys. Yeah right. Why are domestic passengers mingling with international passengers? Yeah – it’s so they can take advantage of the fantastic “shops” it appears and also pop into a pub for a pint of traditional British ale at more than it costs even in the heart of throbbing Soho.
The InfoComm office has got legal powers which it can exercise to sanction BAA for the creeping “surveillance society’ it’s always rabbiting on about. But if you’re a passenger in Term Five this time next week and the “insecurity officers” stop you boarding a fright because you won’t give your dabs over to a fly-by-night corporation like BAA, will that help you a jot? You could try calling the Information Commissioner on his phone – between 9AM to 5PM Monday to Friday – here, or drop him a postcard, and see if he’ll come down and help you out in office hours.
What’s next, DNA on your blinking Tesco loyalty card? ♥
* BOGGARD More at the Thunderer, here.