Travel chaos overshadows terminal's first dayT5 flights cancelled and bags delayed

28 March 2008

A plane in the sky

What was supposed to be a triumphant opening for Heathrow's new £4.3 billion Terminal 5 (T5) descended into travel chaos, with cancelled flights and long baggage-collection delays yesterday.

With staff apparently struggling to cope with the demands of the new building, British Airways (BA) had had to cancel 34 flights in total by 2pm.

These included services to Munich, Frankfurt, Paris and Brussels as well as flights to Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Baggage wait

Despite a much-trumpeted new sophisticated baggage system, some passengers had to wait more than two hours to collect their bags after flying into the new terminal.

To add to the problems, computer difficulties also meant that there was a problem with bags on departing flights early yesterday morning, with three flights leaving without luggage on board.

BA, which has exclusive use of the new terminal, said it had had 'a few minor problems' and added that this was not unexpected following a complex move of most of the airline's operations to T5 from other parts of Heathrow.

It said that its teething problems had included:

  • car park provision
  • delays in staff security screening
  • problems with staff familiarisation with the terminal.

'Minor problems'

While some arriving and departing passengers were full of praise for the new terminal, others had a different tale to tell.

Kate Adamson, 39, arriving from Frankfurt with her daughter Olivia, aged five, to visit her parents in Maidenhead, Berkshire, gave up waiting for her luggage after it had still not appeared after 90 minutes.

Mrs Adamson said: 'I am furious. Staff have been really surly. There were no announcements and just one BA woman on duty who was saying there was a technical problem.

'I've given up. They can send my luggage on to me.'

BA said: 'We have had a few minor problems with our first day of operation in T5. This is not unexpected following one of the most complex and largest airport moves in history...These issues are being resolved; overall, customers have given us a very positive reaction to Terminal 5, which we know will be a resounding success.'

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