Heathrow: Terminal 5 Ready for Close-Up

Queen Elizabeth II officially opened Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 5 on Friday, March 14, but travelers will have to wait almost two weeks to get their first taste of the stylish new shops, restaurants, and facilities that grace the sparkling new terminal.

Terminal 5, which officially opens on Thursday, March 27, will be used exclusively by British Airways. The 1,300-foot-long structure, with glass walls and a single-span roof of glass and steel, was designed by architect Richard Rogers, whose other projects include Paris’ Le Centre Pompidou (a collaboration with Renzo Piano), the Lloyd’s of London building, and the Law Courts at Antwerp, among many other projects.

Among other things, the terminal will please shoppers with a Harrods department store and Coach, Paul Smith, and Prada shopping venues. The numerous restaurants and cafes will include Gordon Ramsay’s latest, Plane Food. Best of all, perhaps, Terminal 5 boasts handsome Italian stone tiles, a contrast to the mouldering carpet of Heathrow’s other terminals.

An estimated 30 million passengers are expected to move through Terminal 5 each year. To handle the traffic, plenty of enhancements have been put into play, including improved baggage handling and faster check-in. Further, all travelers will need to pass through security at least 35 minutes before scheduled flights, a rule designed to prevent single passengers from delaying flights.

The opening of Terminal 5 follows close on the heels of the renovation of London’s St. Pancras station. Both developments mark signal improvements in London’s transportation infrastructure. Additional improvements on the horizon include a proposed third runway at Heathrow and improvements to tube and rail lines in advance of the 2012 Olympics.

Cate Wells

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