London Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 2 – The Queen’s Terminal, which opened on 4th June 2014, is an efficient and pleasant terminal that will change the minds of Irish travellers who currently think ‘Anywhere But Heathrow’ – and Aer Lingus is, not surprisingly, promoting the Dublin T2 to Heathrow T2 journey as “the best terminal-to-terminal experience in Europe”.
Designed by Luis Vidal and Foster & Partners, Heathrow T2 is currently home to 10 airlines, including Aer Lingus, Air Canada, United and US Airways. On 28th August these airlines will be joined by Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines, and by Virgin Atlantic Little Red on 10th September. By 26th October 2014 a total of 29 airlines, including all Star Alliance members, will be based in T2.
By end-October Aer Lingus will have 10 airline partners operating from T2 and a row of transfer desks in the main airside area will make for fast and easy connections for the Irish airline’s five millon transfer passengers a year.
The £2.5 billion (€3.1bn), 40,000 square metre Terminal 2 is designed to cater for 20 million passengers a year, and will be handling 15.8 million passengers by end-2014. Facilities include 60 check-in desks and 66 self-service kiosks, 29 security lanes, 36 immigration lanes and 10 e-gates, 28 gates and eight A380 piers (not to mention 634 toilets and 42 water fountains).
There are four check-in zones, A to D, and Aer Lingus has been assigned five of the 60 check-in desks, C1 to C5, which are right in front of Security, Special Assistance, and Outsize Baggage. The Star Alliance partners are operating a shared check-in desk system.
After passing through security, Aer Lingus passengers turn right for the Gold Circle lounge and for gates A21 – A26, the latter also being used by Virgin Atlantic Little Red from 10th September. There is a 50% reduction in kerb-to-gate time compared with the old Terminal 1 and the walk is through large and light spaces – so no more metal tubes, or what Mike Rutter, Chief Revenue Officer of Aer Lingus, described as “the 1970s fairground experience”!
The new Gold Circle lounge (A1) cost just over €1 million and offers 50% more space in different zones, including quiet meeting rooms and a working zone, 5-metre-high glass walls with panoramic views of the southern runway, and an extensive supply of plug sockets. A separate, quiet rest area for up to 30 persons includes chaise lounge style seating.
Other facilities include 33 shops and 17 restaurants – and all of the latter are required to offer a 15-minute menu and a range of onboard picnic options.
London Heathrow is by far the biggest destination for Aer Lingus, with frequent flights from Dublin, Belfast City, Cork and Shannon, and the airline is the airport’s third largest by movements (after British Airways and Lufthansa), the third largest using Terminal 2 by passengers (after Lufthansa and United), and is Heathrow’s most punctual airline.