Monday, 9 March 2009

Terminal 5

I'm writing this entry from building 41 at the mothership in Redmond. I flew out yesterday, so am a little tired, but very excited to be here as always. I'm here primarily to talk with Mads about matters C#, and Erik about some other cool stuff that I can't talk about. It might be daylight savings time in the US but believe it or not it's snowing heavily at the moment! Yikes!

My flight over gave me my first experience of the new terminal five at Heathrow. The terminal itself is very nice. The early problems seem to have disappeared. It was amazingly easy to check in - loads to self-service check-in machines; and a number of fast bag-drop stalls, none of which had a queue of more than one person. Very fast. The queue for security was less slick. That probably took 30mins or so, mainly standing in line. I wish these places could be consistent about whether the laptops have to come out of the bag, and whether they want your shoes off or not. There was a big delay because of this.

The woman behind me had a much worse time: she had a baby in a sling, a bag, a laptop, and baby stuff. The staff didn't seem at all interested in helping her or (here's a radical thought) letting here skip the queue. I had to help her, and even then she got flustered and dropped one of the bottles of milk. Poor woman. To be fair to the staff, I did see them be very efficient and helpful to a woman in a wheelchair, but I don't understand why they can't be more proactive with women travelling alone with tiny babies...

The terminal is very nice - lots of glass and very bright inside. There's a rather excessive amount of shops, but that aside it was very pleasant to sit by the glass, drink a capuccino and chat to my friend Richard on the phone.

The less impressive part was boarding. I was assigned an "A" gate, which is in the main section (not involving a shuttle train). I thought that meant we'd be in one of the planes waiting nearby. But no. We got on a bus and then drove for slightly more than five minutes to the plane. The bus stopped and we then had to queue on the stairs to board the plane. The stairs were uncovered, so we all got cold and wet doing so. Quite who thought that this is a 21st Century way to get on to a plane should be given a slap. Seems to me that they forgot this part of the experience. Why aren't there spurs of the terminal to reach the planes, and then covered walkways on to the plane? Doh!

No comments: