So what do we think of our new Heathrow Airport Terminal 2? Is it conducive to good health? Can we relax, unwind, de-stress and choose healthy options? Has the traveller experience been at the top of planning considerations?
Heathrow’s Terminal 2 closed in November 2009 for the first phase of a huge redevelopment. The new Terminal 2 or Queens Terminal, was opened by Queen Elizabeth in June 2014. Now home to the Star Alliance group of airlines, 20 million passengers a year pass through this terminal using over 300 flights daily.
Carol Sadler, our long haul nutritionist, recently flew out of Heathrow airport’s terminal 2, and discovered the downside of travelling through one of the newest and world’s busiest airports on a late flight.
So what did the reviewers say?
Soon after opening, Which? gave a very favourable review to the new terminal, although they admit it wasn’t at full capacity. They were pleased with:
- The number of places with charging sockets and free wi fi (unregistered for 45 minutes, 90 minutes with registration).
- The selection of retail outlets including the first, in-airport John Lewis store.
- The range of cafes and restaurants all offering some meals guaranteed to arrive within 15 minutes and some for take-away.
- The good selection of take away snacks and sandwiches from retailers such as Eat, Boots and WH Smith.
More recently, individual travellers posting reviews for Skytrax and on TripAdvisor gave fairly poor reviews, although people are less likely to post reviews when everything works well.
So what did Carol find?
Flying Late Sunday Night – The Ups and Downs
First impression of the terminal is the size and space. The huge 78m long glistening metal sculpture Slipstream, by Richard Wilson hangs between the carpark and terminal. It’s an area most people pass through, rather than linger, but the sheer size is impressive.
The new terminal was designed to be eco-friendly, with large North facing windows providing natural light without greenhouse type heat. The effect is pleasant, but low stress progress through bag drop and security is far more important as a traveller.
Terminal 2 has self-print baggage label machines. I had checked-in on line but my boarding pass didn’t scan, so I had to enter my frequent flyer number and a few other details not readily to hand. This was slightly wearing and any benefits of time or efficiency were not obvious.
The bag drop desks are no longer staffed by individual airlines, but by staff representing multiple airlines. The staff were polite, but the overall impression is one of being an object to be labelled, processed and put in another queue. Security was slow, staff were changing shifts.
With a 22.05 flight to Singapore, my plan was to purchase water and snacks, avoiding a very late dinner on-board. Half a dozen flights were due to leave after mine, some large planes going as far as Beijing and Bogota, but the terminal seemed to be winding down.
Restaurants were open, but very little takeaway food was left in EAT and Boots. WH Smith had a large FOOD TO GO sign, but largely empty shelves – as shown in the photo I took. I don’t know if this happens on Sunday nights or most nights, but it is disappointing at the start of a long journey.
Thank goodness I’d brought my own apple and dried fruit and nut mix!
The Guardian’s reviewer found the shiny new terminal ‘more boring than soaring’. It’s a swanky, spacious building, but it would be vastly improved by better attention to the needs of the people using it.
© Extravitality 2015