10 Years of the Airbus A380 at London Heathrow

As London Heathrow marks 10 years of scheduled Airbus A380 passenger flights we take a look at the prospects of continued Airbus A380 flights from the airport.

London Air Travel » London Heathrow

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

On 18 March 2008, flight SQ308 arrived at London Heathrow from Singapore Changi airport marking the beginning of scheduled Airbus A380 flights between London Heathrow and Singapore.

It was natural that Singapore Airlines would be the first airline to fly the A380 at Heathrow. The airline had long prided itself on industry firsts and having a young fleet of aircraft. Alas, London was not the first city to be served by the Singapore Airlines A380. That honour was bestowed upon Sydney as few months earlier.

Emirates and Qantas soon followed at London Heathrow. As did Etihad, Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Thai Airways, albeit with varying frequencies. Emirates now operates no less than 7 Airbus A380 flights from London Heathrow every day – a reflection of the changing dynamics of aviation in the past ten years.
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10 Years of London Heathrow Terminal 5: How Heathrow has changed

As Heathrow celebrates the 10th anniversary of the official opening of Terminal 5, we take a look back at how much the airport has changed in ten years.

London Air Travel » London Heathrow

London Heathrow Collage
London Heathrow Collage (Image Credit: Heathrow)

On 14 March 2008, Her Majesty The Queen officially opened London Heathrow Terminal 5. You can take read the story of its opening here. In the past ten years, London Heathrow has undergone enormous changes so let’s take a look back.

1. Heathrow has got better

Immediately before Terminal 5, BA had the ignominy of being one of the worst airlines in Europe for bagging handling.

Breakdowns in the baggage systems were a frequent occurrence. As was overcrowding in the terminals. Tents made a regular appearance outside Terminal 4 as soon as there was any disruption. Punctuality was similarly bad.

BAA, as it was then known, as owner of Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted was perceived as a byword for a rent-seeking monopoly.

Gatwick and Stansted are now separately owned from Heathrow. After the opening of Terminal 5, Terminal 1 and the old Terminal 2 have closed and been demolished. A new Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal, opened in 2014. Terminal 4, which operationally was always on the verge of collapsing in on itself in the last years of BA’s operation, has been refurbished.

Airlines have also regrouped largely around alliance membership with Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam members in Terminals 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

Whilst Heathrow has had some bad moments, notably the weather disruption of December 2010 which exposed very poor working relations between the airport and its airlines, lessons from this and the opening of Terminal 5 have been learned and contingency planning has improved.
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Disruption to Heathrow Express & Connect at Christmas 2016

There will be very significant disruption to both Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services between London Paddington and Heathrow airport over the Christmas and New Year period.
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Reduced Heathrow Express & Connect services Easter 2016

Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect will operate reduced timetables between London Heathrow and Paddington over the Easter 2016 holiday. This is due to engineering works taking place for in the introduction of Crossrail.
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Disruption to Heathrow Connect & Express Christmas 2015

There will be significant disruption to Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express train services from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport over the Christmas and New Year Holiday.

Christmas Eve – Thursday 24 December 2015

Both Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express services will finish early on Christmas Eve.

The last Heathrow Express train from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 5 departs at 20:25. The last Heathrow Express train from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London Paddington departs at 21:12. The inter-terminal transfer service will run until 23:00.

The last Heathrow Connect train from London Paddington departs at 21:33. The last Heathrow Connect service from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London Paddington departs at 20:51.

Other public transport services including the Tube and mainline suburban and long distance rail services are also likely to end early.

Christmas Day – Friday 25 December 2015 – Monday 28 December 2015

There will be no Heathrow Connect or Heathrow Express service at all from Christmas Day to Monday 28 December. This is due to Crossrail engineering works.

In terms of alternative public transport options, the Tube and mainline suburban and long distance rail services do not run on Christmas Day. Suburban and long distance rail services operate very limited services (many operators not at all) on Boxing Day.

Tuesday 29 December 2015 – Saturday 2 January 2016

The Heathrow Connect will run a revised service and trains will not stop at Hanwell or West Ealing.

Heathrow Express will run a revised service with trains departing every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.

The first service from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 5 departs at 05:25 and then at 55 and 25 minutes past the hour with the last service at 23:25 (19:25 on Saturday 2 January 2016).

The first service from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London Paddington departs at 05:27 and then at 57 and 27 minutes past the hour with the last service at 23:27 (18:27 on Saturday 2 January 2016).

Full details are on the Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express websites.

Please note that is often the case that engineering works can over-run so please check directly with Heathrow Connect and Express before you travel. Please also be aware that there is also significant disruption to Gatwick Express services over the Christmas period.

Is US customs & immigration pre-clearance coming to Heathrow?

London Air Travel » London Heathrow

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)

There has been much interest following an announcement by the US Department for Homeland Security that it is exploring adding US pre-clearance facilities at 10 new airports worldwide.

These airports include London Heathrow and Manchester airport.

Dublin and Shannon airports are the only in Europe to have US pre-clearance facilities and is a key reason behind International Airlines Group’s bid for Aer Lingus.

Put simply, the benefit of pre-clearance is that passengers clear US customs and immigration at a dedicated facility before boarding the aircraft.

On arrival in the US, the flight is treated in the same way as a domestic flight would and passengers can disembark the aircraft and immediately make their way out of the airport, with no further checks.

Anyone who has experienced immigration queues at the likes of New York JFK and Miami airports can testify to the benefits for passengers.

So will pre-clearance come to London Heathrow?

We hope so. However, there are some challenges.

Currently, transatlantic flights depart from four different terminals (Terminal 2 for United, Terminal 3 for American Airlines, Delta and Virgin Altantic, Terminal 4 for Delta, and Terminal 5 for British Airways).

It would not be feasible, nor desired on the part of the airlines, for all transatlantic flights to depart from one terminal, so each terminal would require its own pre-clearance facilities.

Any attempt to limit pre-clearance facilities to one terminal at London Heathrow is likely to be strongly resisted by those airlines whose passengers would not benefit from pre-clearance.

There is also the amount of available space for pre-clearance facilities. The transatlantic market is by far Heathrow’s biggest long-haul market. There are nearly 30 flights a day from London Heathrow to New York alone. Any facility will have to be of a considerable size to be worthwhile for passengers and compatible with efficient airport operations.

Heathrow airport also receives considerable income from letting terminal space to retailers and is likely to want to be compensated for any loss of income as a result of retail space being sacrificed to make way for pre-clearance facilities. Any attempt by Heathrow airport to be compensated through higher charges to airlines is likely to be strongly resisted by them.

So, many challenges and given the amount of work involved, pre-clearance, if it happens, is likely to be many years away.

Heathrow Terminal 1 to close to passengers on Tuesday 30 June

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London Heathrow Terminal 1, 1969 (Image Credit: Heathrow Airport)

On Tuesday 30 June 2015, London Heathrow Terminal 1 will have closed its doors to passengers for the final time after more than 45 years of operation.

The last remaining resident, British Airways, will disperse its flights from the terminal to Terminals 3 and 5*.

Having opened in 1969, Terminal 1 spent most of its life as the principal hub for short-haul traffic, specifically that of British Airways and the now defunct bmi British Midland. In between the opening of Terminal 5 and the new Terminal 2, it was also home to number of Star Alliance carriers, such as Lufthansa and Swiss.

It has been loved for features such as the former “Zone R” BA premium check-in area and loathed for long walkways and the poor condition of many public areas of the terminal.

In its life the terminal has seen wildcat industrial action, the paralysis of operations due to fog and heavy snow, terrorist threats, fire, and even an altercation that led to the arrest of Snoop Dogg.

The closure of Terminal 1 will eventually allow for the expansion of the new Terminal 2.
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London Heathrow Terminal 5 to gain first paid-for-access lounge

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London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Ever since London Heathrow Terminal 5 opened seven years ago, a frequent criticism of the terminal has been the absence of a paid-for-access lounge for those who do not have access to BA’s Galleries lounge complex by virtue of frequent flyer status or travel class.

This summer Terminal 5 will gain its own paid-for-access lounge as an “Aspire” lounge is to open in Terminal 5 near Gate 18.

The exact opening date and pricing are yet to be revealed. Though, Aspire do offer annual lounge passes for £259.99 which may work well for some.

We’re not sure why it has taken so long for a lounge to open but this will be a welcome development for many. The standard of third party lounges has improved markedly over the past few years and it should compare favourable to BA’s Galleries Club lounges.

The one point to note is that many BA long-haul flights do depart from the Terminal 5B and 5C satellite terminals and there won’t be paid-for lounge facilities in these satellite terminals.

Update: The opening date of the lounge is Tuesday 4 August 2015 and the cost of lounge access is from £34.99.

ITV to go behind the scenes at London Heathrow

London Air Travel » London Heathrow

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

The behind the scenes documentary shows no signs of running out of steam. We’ve lost count of the number of train companies, hotels and airlines that have opened themselves up to the cameras! ITV has now commissioned a three part documentary series on London Heathrow.

The documentary is being made by independent production company Raw TV. Production has been underway for some time, with the company actively seeking both frequent and nervous flyers late last year.

Of course, this is not the first time Heathrow has opened itself up to the cameras. The BBC ran “Airport Live” in 2013, as well as the long-running docusoap “Airport”.

We’ll provide an update with an expected transmission date as soon as we hear of it.

Update: Episode 1 of “Britain’s Busiest Airport” premiers on ITV at 9pm on Thursday 4 June 2015.  More from the ITV Press Centre.

Heathrow proposes reduced charges for domestic flights

London Air Travel » London Heathrow

BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

There was something of a surprise announcement that caught the media’s attention before the Easter break.

Heathrow airport announced that it proposes to reduce its charges to airlines for UK domestic flights by a third from £29.59 to £19.59 per passenger, with effect from 1 January 2017.

This follows the announcement ny Heathrow Airport last month of a route development fund to support up to nine new UK domestic routes.

The rationale for this is that the number of UK domestic destinations from London Heathrow has fallen substantially over the past 25 years and does not compare favourably to rival hubs such as Amsterdam. So Heathrow wishes to encourage many more UK domestic routes.

Will we see more UK domestic destinations from Heathrow?

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