“Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite”, is a common phrase you tell children at night before they go to sleep and I’m sure you’ve said it many times yourself. But have you ever come across those mean little creatures? I hope you haven’t as they really are nasty. Zane Selkirk from California recently experienced the little biting creatures first hand. But not in some scabby hotel room, nor in a run-down backpacker, no, she got bitten on two occasions on British Airways flights.
On my business trips to California I usually prefer to fly Virgin Atlantic, but this time, unfortunately, the economics were against my preference. Well, to be honest, British Airways isn’t actually that bad even though their Premium Economy product lacks all the benefits of its arch rival but I guess value for my employer value for money was pretty okay this time. But there is one very clear benefit of flying with BA out of Heathrow (IATA: LHR): you can leave from Terminal 5. And that, you have to admit, is despite all the BAA bashing, is a fantastic terminal.
LateDeparture.com has previously written about Terminal 5 but we then focused on the main building, housing the “A gates”. Terminal 5’s full structure, however, consists today of the main building and a satellite terminal with the B gates (Terminal 5B). A third complex, the C gates (or Terminal 5C), is currently in construction and due to open in May 2010. British Airways mainly operates their long haul flights from the B gates, hence I now got the chance to have a closer look at it.
Reaching the satellite terminal is simple and quick: you hop on a short underground shuttle from the main building. Make sure you set aside 10 to 15 minutes for the journey with the actual shuttle ride only taking about 1 minute. There, by the way, I suggest you ride in the front as it travels pretty fast and looking out to the track is a somewhat exciting (I know boys will be boys…).
Once at the terminal, you will find a few shops (see PDF map for details) including a nicely stocked Boots (I liked their selection of miniature travel essentials), a WHSmith, a Duty-Free Shop, a “Caviar House Seafood” bar with a great view towards the main building and a sandwich & coffee place. None of them are actually interesting enough for you to leave the shopping and gourmet heaven of the main building in a hurry, but there is one very distinct advantage of the satellite: it is quiet. Because fewer flights depart from this terminal, less people are present which again means you can easily find somewhere to sit and relax. This, together with the 360 degree view of everything that is going on at Britain’s busiest airport makes it an attractive option for people like me who are fascinated observing the airport’s operations, landing and departing aircrafts (try to spot Singapore Airline’s A380). With the satellite’s close proximity to the main terminal, it could even be an attractive alternative for sitting out longer delays occurring in the main terminal.
[Photo by LateDeparture.com – all rights reserved]
British Airways today introduced a new program where they “generously” give away 5,000 airmiles when your flight from Heathrow Terminal 5 is more than 15 minutes delayed:
As part of our commitment to giving you outstanding service, we do everything we can to get you to your destination on time. So if in spite of all our efforts we can’t depart from Terminal 5 within 15 minutes* of scheduled departure time over the coming weeks, we’d like to give you more than just an apology:
When you fly Club Europe, Euro Traveller or Domestic Flights on a flexible ticket (booking classes JCDYBH) departing from Terminal 5 between now and 02 September 2008 you’ll receive
5,000 BA Miles if your flight leaves later than 15 minutes* of its scheduled departure time from Terminal 5.
BA actually has been doing this for quite some time, but you only received the miles when you actively complained about a particular flight. This offer now sounds fairly generous since manymost Heathrow flights these days suffer a delay. In fairness this delay is often not the result of a problem caused by the airlines, but more because of the airport’s severe capacity constraints. And, surprise, surprise, the small print of BA’s offer then exactly excludes those kind of delays:
British Airways reserves the right to exclude at its discretion any flights where disruption occurs beyond the reasonable control of British Airways. Non–exhaustive examples include severe weather conditions and their ongoing or consequent effects, air traffic control delays and industrial action.
With that, this offer all of a sudden sounds more like a common PR exercise than an innovative and generous customer centric solution.