It opened last month but today I got my first look at Heathrow’s shiny new Terminal 2 courtesy of one of its first resident airlines, EVA Air. Anxious to avoid the fiasco that overshadowed the launch of Terminal 5 back in 2008, this has been a staggered launch with, so far, only 8 of the planned 26 airlines in situ. Lots of lessons were learnt from Terminal 5 and it would seem have been applied here – this is a good thing, I’ve grown to love travelling through Terminal 5. The construction design is similar: it sits beneath a 50,000 m2 wave roof with skylights and 10m high floor to ceiling windows letting in lots of natural light and creating a sense of space. Operating at only 30% capacity of course its hard to tell how it will feel when chocca at peak periods but its as pleasant a space as an airport terminal could be.
At check in, the emphasis is firmly on DIY with 66 self service kiosks and 60 check in desks behind. Once through security you then emerge in to the vast Departure Lounge with a huge wall of glass leaving you in no doubt that you are about to board a plane. This is where the fun really starts. All the 33 retail and 17 catering outlets were occupied from Day 1 and there was fierce competition to get a spot here. Consequently there are some interesting new players – John Lewis has its first airport outlet, there’s a Cath Kidston store, Mulberry and Paul Smith as well the usual big designer names (Harrods, Gucci, Bulgari etc) and the more functional Boots, WH Smiths, Dixons et al. The big name restaurant is Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists Cafe where a cooked breakfast can be had for around a tenner. There’s also Yo Sushi, the London Pride pub and The Gorgeous Kitchen, an all female enterprise showcasing new talent. All in all, not a bad place to hang out while you wait for your flight.
When Terminal 2 opened in 1955 it was designed to accommodate 1.2 million passengers (and was handling 8m by the time it closed in 2009). This new terminal will cater for up to 20 million. Consequently it is huge – 40,000 sq m to be precise – and a fair amount of walking is involved to get to your gate. Allow a good 15 minutes.
Terminal 2 has been designed with the future very much in mind. Should the 3rd runway go ahead, Terminals 5 and 2 will become the two main passenger terminals, Heathrow East and West, connected by one underground passenger transit and baggage system. For now though the emphasis is on getting the terminal fully up to speed as the main hub for Star Alliance Airlines. I, for one, am looking forward to using it soon.
Get a sneak peak of Terminal 2 with this brief video tour, shot today on my iPhone and edited using the CameoTV app…
Have you travelled through Terminal 2 yet? How was it?