Heathrow T2 sets year countdown

TD Guest Writer

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Terminal 2's check-in area today
Terminal 2’s check-in area today

The first flight operation at Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 will arrive a year from today, it has been announced.

A United flight from Chicago will be the first to touch down at the new GBP2.5 billion terminal on 4 June 2014. The US carrier will be the first airline to use the terminal, with 22 other Star Alliance members, Aer Lingus and Germanwings to be introduced over a six-month period. All the airlines will be operating from the new terminal from November 2014.

Speaking at the countdown launch today, John Holland-Kaye, development director at Heathrow said its focus was to ease the passenger experience but stop passengers straying to regional airports and in doing so reinforce Heathrow’s connectivity.

“Our challenge has been to create the same quality of experience you’d find in a regional airport on a larger scale,” he said. “Our terminal has been designed around the passenger with an intuitive layout that means they can relax after security and try to give passengers the shortest walking distance. For example arriving passengers can walk from the furthest gate to the car park in three minutes, which I’m not sure you would even find at some regional departure points.”

The terminal is part of a private investment from shareholders which has seen GBP11bn plugged into Heathrow in 10 years. Eventually Terminal 1’s pier will be demolished to extend Terminal 2 and after closing Terminal 3 too will eventually complete a new area by 2030.

The move by Heathrow will bolster its argument as operating as London’s ‘hub’ airport, particularly as home to the 23 Star Alliance members that make up 20% of air traffic. The alliance is using the terminal as its main European hub for member airlines, which include Air Canada, Thai, LOT, Air New Zealand and Lufthansa.

Terminal 2 has offered Heathrow the chance to tap into the latest technology offering, ultimately to allow easier check-in and security procedures. Some features include:

Print-your-own luggage tags
Self-service points in the new terminal will allow passengers to print off their own luggage tags, as well as boarding pass. There will be baggage drop-off points and having previously printed the tags off will ease off the process that most travellers feel has not changed much from regular check-in.
Instead of standard check-in desks each staff member will have their own stand, where they can stand next to the passenger checking in and swerve their screen around to customers, meaning there is more interactivity.

Security/scan your own pass
Automation continues into security, where passengers will be able to scan their own boarding pass before going through to be

Slipstream sculpture

checked. All passengers will filter from check-in through one security area, partly to make it easier to know where to go, but also to show off its departure lounge when they get through to the other side.

With its focus on passengers the terminal has been designed to give as little walking distance as possible, including those between the lounge and gate. Star Alliance and Aer Lingus will have business lounges overlooking the runway and other parts of the airport. The general area will include a kids play section and retail and F&B outlets, some of which are already moving in.

A giant silver sculpture will sit between the terminal and the car park for the ‘wow’ factor when passengers turn up. Designed by British designer Richard Wilson, the sculpture is said to depict the glamorous past of aviation and symbolise its modern future.

Travel Daily had a tour of the new terminal today while construction continues. See the photos here

Click here to see why IATA is naming Heathrow as a “big problem”. 

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