Man Machine Failures Plague Heathrow Terminal Opening

Heathrow’s Terminal 5 opened yesterday with a resounding thud that left travelers and employees stranded and BAA and British Airways officials red faced and shamed. This is as much a failure of man as it is the systems that have been designed and implemented.

There is simply no excuse for employees not being able to log on, baggage systems not synchronized with baggage handler actions, insufficient parking for employees, and a traveler information system that failed and then ground to a halt with literally thousands of travelers in the terminal.

Rumor also has it that the much talked about biometric system that fingerprints travelers wasn’t blocked by regulators but because the system failed to work in the days approaching the launch. Seriously, BAA (the airport operator) can’t really expect anyone to believe that government regulators who knew about the system while it was being considered, designed, and then implemented, waited until the days leading up to the terminal opening to say “no dice”.

All I can say is that my strategy to avoid Heathrow for connection and destination flights will remain in force. If I’m connecting I’ll fly into Frankfurt and if I need to be in London I’ll get a direct flight to Gatwick instead. It also makes me wonder if London is really able to pull together the massive logistics challenge that is the modern day Olympics.

Computer glitches and other problems plunged London’s Heathrow airport into chaos for a second straight day on Friday, causing British Airways to cancel numerous flights.

[From British Airways Cancels Heathrow Flights Amid Computer Chaos — Heathrow Airport — InformationWeek]

3 thoughts on Man Machine Failures Plague Heathrow Terminal Opening

  1. The last time we flew through Heathrow, July 2007, was the last straw. There was nothing new in the experience as it was the same old state of near total breakdown, presenting the last kind of challenge I want while traveling, namely of wading through the glitches and make your plane. (On a 2002 flight the check-in counter didn’t open until a half hour before departure time. How’s that for anxiety?) I’d rather fly into Ireland and ferry over.

  2. BAA is a Spanish-owned company with a monopoly it should never have been allowed to have. Total bollocks.

    My London base is a 20 minute drive from Heathrow. Often, I’ll just fly into Gatwick, get the Gatwick Express to Victoria, and cab it from there. It’s saying something that I’d rather lug my bags and have all that hassle than get picked up at Heathrow. The passport control lines are insane at both airports, sadly, even for people like me with permanent residents’ visas.

  3. Jackie,
    Can you imagine what Heathrow would be like with yet anther terminal and, if Willie gets his way, more runways? The perpetual chaos could well be severe enough to warrant inventing a new word to describe it.

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