Heathrow T1 horror is baggage of the past

Cantillion: Aer Lingus has moved in the airport to a place that just has to be better

The Heathrow Terminal 1 circle of hell is no more. As of yesterday, Aer Lingus passengers flying to Ireland out of the airport will no longer be consigned to the corrugated metal tubes of the Gate 77-90 area, with their toilets the width of a pencil.

Some people said it was the lengthy walk of the condemned passenger to the gate that was the main problem with this particularly glum corner of transport infrastructure. Certainly, by the time they boarded the plane, Aer Lingus customers may have had the unshakeable sense they were already so far west of London, they were actually in Cornwall.

But long security-to-gate distances are what travelators were invented for – the real horror of this nightmare can be summed up in two words: Wetherspoon Express. For years, this was the only eatery available to Ireland-bound long-haul travellers connecting through the airport.

Desperate for sustenance after up to 24 hours of baco-foiled food-like substances, weary long-haulers on the return leg of their journeys were often denied access to the best restaurant facilities that Terminal 1 had to offer over in Gate 1 and were shunted straight through to Heathrow’s Irish armpit.


Trade boom beckons


predicts that British-Irish trade relations will improve immeasurably following Aer Lingus’s move to The Queen’s Terminal, which is the name for the revamped Terminal 2 (a £2.5 billion investment project).

All 48 Aer Lingus flights per day from Heathrow to Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast City airports now operate out of these shiny new facilities, with the airline promising to cut “gate to kerb” time by 50 per cent and ensure transfers to other flights are “seamless”. Eateries include Heston Blumenthal’s newest restaurant, The Perfectionists’ Café, a hostage-to-fortune name if ever there was one, but still . . . it’s surely going to poach a lovely egg.

So that's Heathrow sorted. Now, Manchester Airport plc. Can we have a little chat about your security queues?