For once, as we were on vacation travel and had exhausted our appetites for food and drink as well as sights, I found myself with plenty of time in an airport. Only other time that happens is – by and large – if I have a longish layover somewhere. Otherwise, I have quite well optimised (that is, learned to minimize) my time in airports.
I have commented on LHR before – at least mentioned a rather good and, at the time, much needed snack of prawns and white wine en route to CPT. Alas, that nice little eatery seems to be gone. There are plenty of others – today we had the last pints of ale in the Crown Rivers pub at the west end (judging by the terminal maps) of the downstairs shopping and departure area.
Again, this time – and in stark contrast to my earliest history with this airport – security was a breeze in terminal 5. Even if they required med to take off my hiking boots (this is not the US where all footwear needs scanning, at least for all passengers not holding a “official airline we’re on a tight connection” card). In Copenhagen, Vagar and a few other airports, they have never given rise to so much as a tiny beep. Oh well.
Shopping is also easy to come by as there are loads and loads of shops, simply. I still wonder why just about every airport needs to have a selection of major fashion / style brands – your Mulberry, Mont Blanc, Prada and what have you. Obviously, a large enough, if minuscule, percentage of passenges exists to make them go around, but I’d surely always prefer something with local flavour (aside from the tourist traps) to lure me in.
And then a small peeve of mine – LHR (like Brussels, my wife tells me) announces the gates late. In our case, for a 1900 departure, the monitors simply said “Gate opens 1810”.
I would be much surprised if the airport logistics and British Airways planning did not require the gate for the plane in question to be known quite a bit in advance of 50 minutes before departure. So the reason can only be to have passengers in circulation near shops and food outlets for as long as possible.
Not a very subtle and elegant strategy – and actually one that is even more an argument to me of minimizing my terminal time. At least LHR offers a quite decent amount of “general” seating – although finding power outlets for a charge of devices seems quite challenging if you’re not blessed with lounge access.
Only place I spotted a wall outlet was at the tables nearest to the bar at the Crown Rivers, on the left hand side when facing the end of the terminal (actually right behind the “Crown Rivers” sign).
One other thing to note on LHR’s positive list is that they give out 45 mins of free wifi. Or, if you have several Email addresses at hand, possibly a multiplum of 45 minute periods. I used two – and this posting is courtesy of the second of those.
Basically, a run-of-the-mill airport, even if larger and more bustling than most.