back to article T5 opening turns into Airplane 3.0

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 …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. Tim

    Who'd have thunk it!

    "British Airways admitted "teething problems" and put at least some of the problems down to "staff familiarity" and "delays in staff security provision""

    .....I know for a fact T5 have been running trial day's with invited pseudo-travvelers, usually travel industry workers having a skive, for the very purpose of eliminating or identifying "teething problems".

  2. John Imrie

    Another British Cockup

    I wonder if we will get the Olympics right.

  3. Lyndon Hills


    So as not to unsettle travellers, the experience is the same as at terminals 1 to 4.

  4. Rob
    Thumb Up

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer company.

    That is all.

  5. Neil

    Saw a program

    On TV the other night (Ok, I only saw the last 5 minutes of it) that was telling us about how the new baggage system worked. My first thought was "that'll go wrong."

    I didn't realise quite how quickly I'd be right...

  6. Senor Beavis

    WHOOO! Go UK

    Yet another commendable success to show our European neighbours.

    Unless it's a French conspiracy to scupper our football and air travel to make Sarko look good.

    And remind me, we're planning to build a shed-load of nuclear power stations? Is anyone else considering moving to the Southern Hemisphere before they come online?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    British Engineering at it's best!

    Any takers on whether the Olympic's will go without a hitch?



  8. Anonymous Coward

    I'd just like to say

    Good luck. All those passengers are counting on them.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I remember....

    watching a documentary about the new airport in Japan (I think?), where they knocked the tops off the mountains and dumped them into the sea to make an island for it to be built on? Once construction was complete they shut down the old airport at about 22:00 and then moved all the stuff for bagage handling etc from one site to the other and had everything back up and running by 8 am the next morning.

    Why oh why oh why must we be forever doomed to fail at everything we try to do? I mean surely the systems were fully tested before going operational? didn’t they get a few hundred volunteers to turn up with suitcases and see if it all worked?

  10. Andre Carneiro

    Heathrow, eh?

    One terminal is pretty much like all the others in that pit of all abominations called Heathrow Airport.

  11. Jamie

    British ingenuity

    Amazing, this country now has the most expensive stadium in the world, and a top of the line high class hig tech building that does not function.

    Hey all we need now is a gov't that don't know what is going on.

  12. Mr B


    I told them to remove that StarGate1.5 thingy prior to building T5.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @ olympics

    Of course the Olympics will be a success, don't forget if we dont make the 2012 deadline there is a built in contingency of at least 3 extra years before the next olympic games so I guess we have a window for any unforseen elays.

  14. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Gets worse...

    A friend who's trying to fly BA out of Terminal 5 just sent me a message saying that all check-in has been suspended.

    Bodes well for Day 1 of the Olympics don't you think?

  15. Dave Murray
    Dead Vulture

    Poor Mr Adams

    "Jonathan Adams, BAA Head of IT programme management and head honcho of the baggage system, is confident he can “get the bags to their destination before the people”... The principal challenge to the system's smooth operation, he has discovered, is not the software "but bag straps". With bags travelling at speeds of up to 30mph around the airport, humans are advised to stay well out of the way."

    I knew when I read that on El Reg yesterady that Mr Adams was going to be looking a bit red faced soon. I didn't realise it would be on the opening day! Guess bag straps were not their biggest challenge. :D

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe its just me

    Some perspective would be wise, it was never going to be a seamless transfer, it sounds like it been a bit bumpy but this really isn't a surprise. Its not a disaster and I'm sure the guys there will be working around the clock to get it right within the next couple of days.

    SB, yours is a typical whingeing Brit comment. We are actually rather good at 'organising big things' in this country, I have no doubt that the Olympics will be a success and great fun too.

    I'm sure our French friends, are all laughing hysterically I mean failure of a baggage system is obviously far worse than the collapse of CDG's roof flattening five people...

    I hope you enjoy your new life in New Zealand, its a beautiful place, though they don't like whingers much.

  17. Timbo
    Thumb Down

    BA Flight to Paris

    I just heard a report on the BBC news that said a reporter had flown to Paris from T5, and when they landed in France, the flight crew said that EVERYONE'S baggage had been left behind at Heathrow....!!

    What was all that baloney they said that the baggage system had been running flawlessly for the last six months.....

    Surely you would have thought that they would have started off with maybe 5 flights the first day and then slowly scaled it up.....keeping an eye on all their system to ensure everything DID work flawlessly.

    Talk about the ineptitude of the people in charge....!

  18. Jim Willsher

    Good job...

    Not a bad result for five years' planning and countless dry-runs. Did complacency rule?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *hysterical cackle*

    Thank God for Gatwick and Terminals 2 and 4, where such mediocrity is situation du jour.

    Why on earth BA didn't consider switching first selected long-haul flights from T1 to T5, and then migrating the Euro flights somewhat later, or vice versa, is beyond me. Yes, Flight Connections would've been crap, but at least cancellations would've been at a minimum.

    And to think I was hoping this wouldn't all end in tears...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Echo the nicer company bit

    I fly a lot for work (sorry about the carbon impact, but I have no choice in my current career).

    I would rather take the bus than fly BA.

    After the second trip when they cancelled my ticket and refused to give me a refund because my connecting flight was delayed I decided enough was enough. They may claim to be the worldest favourite airline, but I'm guessing that none of those people have actually flown with the arrogant tw*ts.

    Also right on about T5 experience now matching that at the other terminals. Heathrow is an absolute disgrace and an embarassment to the country. Airports in most developing nations are cleaner and better maintained. Perhaps they could spend some of that duty free money on employing cleaners, replacing worn carpets, and speeding up security.

  21. mad clarinet

    Well maybe....

    ...they'll have some of it fixed and working by the time I use T5 in June

    well - hopefully. Maybe... possibly....

    Mines the one at the back - I probably need to get there now to be in time

  22. Aram
    Thumb Up

    @I'd just like to say

    I nearly sprayed coffee over my keyboard - great comment!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @WHOOO! Go UK

    Non égal nous Français pourrions avoir imaginé celui-ci

  24. Johnny G

    2 companies

    "British Airways admitted "teething problems" and put at least some of the problems down to "staff familiarity" and "delays in staff security provision""

    Careful here - remember it's BAA that own the terminal and are responsible for it's operation, even if British Airways are the sole occupants. BA get a LOT of bad press for things beyond their control, like when BAA screw up.

  25. Beezle Bob
    Black Helicopters

    BAA is now a Spanish company...

    ...remember that when slating 'BAA'. 'BAA' doesn't even stand for anything anymore. It used to be British Airports Authority.. but this is no longer used by BAA.

    BAA is the noise sheep make. The sheep are the people being herded around the various retail outlets. The sheepdogs are the security personnel directing the sheep to the shops. The Sheppard is commercialism. The terrorist is the wolf in sheep's clothing... I could go on...

    (We so need a sheep icon)

  26. martin burns

    Baggage Checkin now suspended.

    ...and my flight is in just about 2h. The two before mine have been cancelled already.

    Bloody employer travel portal that wouldn't let me fly BMI this week as the BA ticket was cheaper...

  27. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    I am pro-aviation in all its forms and normally I would have at least felt some sympathy for the operator of a large new airport facility running into start-up problems.

    But in this case I think - it serves them right for that fingerprint treachery they tried to pull off.

    Also, people as arrogant as the guy from BAA who spoke on BBC News this morning about how relaxed the staff at BAA was and how confident they were that everything will work just fine deserve to be brought back to the ground and face the reality.

  28. Dan White
    Jobs Horns

    Two bags bo***cks

    Same thing *every* time at Bristol Airport, where the "security" staff have to have a degree in Jobsworth before they are allowed to put on the uniform.

    I regularly carry 20+ PDAs in my hand luggage to demo to clients, so the laptop needs to stay in its own bag. Last time I was there the woman in front of me in the queue sailed past with a cabin bag and a handbag bigger than my laptop bag. Guess who got stopped.

    I tried asking why she was allowed a huge handbag when my "man-bag" wasn't, but clearly he wasn't smart enough to get a Sex and the City reference.

    So, open the case, remove 20 PDAs, spare batteries and mains adapters and secrete them all over my person... stuffed in 6 jacket pockets, trousers, in my socks, mains leads round my neck, etc. Put laptop in cabin bag, and head to security looking like a Michelin Man wired to explode at any second. The look on the faces of the security staff when my jacket went through the X-Ray machine made it *almost* worthwhile.

    As others have said, get through security, and in clear sight of the staff, undo cabin bag, remove laptop bag, stuff everything back into cabin bag and bugger off onto the plane with both bags, where nobody gives a shit.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Lost baggage, poor sign posts, crap parking, poor disabled access, poor staff training, breakdowns...

    Business as usual then?

    Oh hold on, that's not true, when do the staff go on strike?

  30. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    Don't worry folks, it gets better

    by the minute

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better than I expected...

    I've been doing some installation work there....

    I'm not finished in time though, because I'm still waiting for BAA to complete work that was due in November. Everyone else I speak to at T5 says the same thing. I'm amazed that the opening day went as well as it did.

  32. Snake Plissken

    Looks like...

    someone picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue...

    Mine is the jacket on the flight to Hong Kong.

  33. Nomen Publicus

    See what happens when you don't fingerprint!

    What do you really want to avoid on the first day? A new baggage handling system to breakdown.

    The fact that it did breakdown is just an example of Murphys Law. However, the fact that nobody seems to have worked out procedures to work around the problem is worrying.

    Why was the move to T5 done as a big-bang rather than a gradual transfer over a week or two?

    No doubt someone will suggest that fingerprinting everybody would have improved matters...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    British Management: finest in the world

    And these clowns are the ones we're supposed to entrust with our fingerprints when we pass through, and who are supposed to destroy all record of them afterwards?

    'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear'

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. Stewart Haywood

    It's a bit like Fawlty Towers,

    except that the Spanish waiter is the boss this time.

    The penguin because he looks so sad that he must have lost his baggage.

  37. Herby Silver badge

    Airport "security"

    Why, why, why don't they have a "security" device that is like one of those moving walkways. It shuffles you through, and if you need more "inspection", you bet pushed into the reject pile. Forget all those metal detectors, and stuff. If they can do it on assembly lines, why not at an airport.

    Of course, they could treat every human like baggage and wrap it all up and put it on the carousel only to get lost. Reminds me of a sequence in one of the Airplane movies.

    And I'm flying tomorrow.

  38. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    @Another British Cockup

    > By John Imrie

    "I wonder if we will get the Olympics right."

    Fortunately we will not need to ghetto them via terminate 5.

    Besides which, ever since Frank and Jesse Wright circumnavigated The Channel we have been in sore need of something to keep out those dirty johnnie rotters. Just IN time for the Olympics, I'd say.

    We might even win a medal this time.

    Wot we need now is a Terminator 5 icon. A big V off sign we can wear with pride.

  39. Foussais
    Paris Hilton


    So much for state-of-the-ark (sorry, art) technology.

    Anyone for Paris?

    But perhaps not today!

  40. Sam Tana

    Picked the wrong date

    They should have waited until next Tuesday. April 1st.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    There's a problem with the terminal?

    What is it?

    It's a big building where passengers go but that's not important right now.

  42. Man Outraged

    Quote from the BBC...

    I was just about to post with "Where's the IT angle" then I saw this on the BBC:

    "The computer cannot cope with the number of bags going through"

    Baggage worker

    Anybody got any insider info on this poject? Outsourced? Mis-managed by fist-thumping moronic managers who know nothing about software!?

  43. Richard Stocks

    Have to laugh

    I (with my family) flew BA out of Heathrow to Boston last night. When we landed, we were greeted with a message that one of our bags had been left behind.

    The BA baggage services guy (who seriously didn't give a toss, and actually mentioned that with the amount of flying I do I should consider myself lucky they haven't lost more of my luggage) seemed to think it would all be magically fixed when T5 came online. I laughed at him.

    Flammable, just like all the items I pack.

  44. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    If it's any consolation...

    ...You're making us feel much better about Denver International, thank you very much!

  45. Alex McKenna

    I wonder what OS they are using on the BAA computers?

    Do you think it might be Windows Vista?

    About time they replaced Heathrow with an airport on the Thames estuary. NOT run by BAA.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Sack the Management!

    "We always knew the first day would represent a unique challenge because of the size and complexity of the move into Terminal 5. We are working extremely hard on solutions to these short term difficulties."

    They didn't train enough; they didn't test enough --- Management failure as usual, thinly disguised by marketing crap talk.

    But things could be worse... at one of the recent Private/Public partnership airports here in India, the Private bit of the partnership (Ahhh, now I come to think of it, a European company, so Prince Philip can just keep quiet) was extremely disappointed that the Indian government insisted on proper testing of ATC procedures before the airport opened. They thought this an unnecessary drain on their profits.

    I have only one non-stop choice between here and Heathrow. I wish someone would give BA some competition on this route.

  47. Peter Simpson
    Paris Hilton

    Bag Straps

    The principal challenge to the system's smooth operation, he has discovered, is not the software "but bag straps".

    Perhaps we could put him in touch with the bloke who designed the automated baggage handling system for Denver, Colorado. Or, maybe, the "new" T5 baggage handling system is the same one *removed* from DIA a few years back. They never managed to make it work...

    Paris, because she's got lots of baggage...

  48. Peter Simpson
    Black Helicopters

    DIA baggage system

    Do a google on "DIA Baggage". I don't suppose the contractor for the new T5 baggage system was BAE by any chance?

    Plenty of bugs in that system, eh?

  49. Jeroen Braamhaar

    @AC:: RE: I remember....

    The airport you're thinking of is Hong Kong's new airport, Lan Tau International Airport I believe it's called.

    Yes, they DID overnight the equipment from Kai Tak to Lan Tau (shutting down the old airport at 22:00 and opening Lan Tau a few hours later, trucking all the equipment to the new site ~50km away) and hoped to open it the next day, and while the passgenger side of the new airport worked without too much hiccups, it's automated freight system was on the fritz for several weeks causing a massive freight backlog which caused all kinds of problems.

    The island airport in Japan you're thinking of is Kansai International airport near Osaka; it opened without any problems but operations there have been complicated by the island settling and sinking - fortunately it hasn't impeded passenger flow, but it will cause trouble in years to come unless some serious action is taken ....

    hope this helps to clear things up ...

  50. Anonymous John

    @ Punishment

    "deserve to be brought back to the ground"

    If they were at T5, they never left it.


This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019