The opening of BAA’s Terminal 5 today was marred by the disappearance of passengers’ baggage followed by the disappearance of entire planes as the terminal’s sole occupant, BA, threw up its hands in despair.
The £4.3bn terminal, which opened this morning, has been touted as the gateway to a new UK, where dwindling industrial and North Sea oil revenues will be replaced by the proceeds from duty free sales.
However, by lunchtime today there were reports of chaos as the terminal’s high-tech baggage system failed in the first hour. Passengers arriving on the inaugural flights had to wait up to three hours for their baggage to appear, and some apparently headed out of the terminal with only their carry-on luggage.
Other reports cited a broken escalator at the brand new terminal, and there were also grouses about the signposting on the roads leading to the building. Customer parking also descended into chaos.
By mid-morning, it seems, departures were subject to delay, and by the afternoon flights a rash of cancellations were plastered all over the departure boards. There have been 33 flights scrapped, both international and domestic. It’s difficult to confirm which flights, though, as BA’s website says its “systems are not responding”.
The only thing that did go according to plan, it appears, was a demonstration by 250 environmental campaigners, but presumably they’d arrived by public transport.
British Airways admitted "teething problems" and put at least some of the problems down to "staff familiarity" and "delays in staff security provision". A spokeswoman said the baggage problems were "being resolved" but could not say when.
It was all supposed to have been so different. In fact, we would love to show you a picture of how it was supposed to be. But, as we reported yesterday, BAA doesn’t consider us a “suitable” website, and won’t supply us any pictures. ®