Come next year, it will be battle of the terminals at London's Heathrow Airport. Terminal 3, home to Virgin Atlantic, is currently undergoing a revamp, while the brand-new Terminal 5, home to British Airways, is being constructed. Although both carriers are touting things like new lounges and railway stations, the amenity customers are most looking forward to is a faster and more efficient check-in process.
In fact, Virgin Atlantic, which will be the first to debut its terminal later this year, said that fast, efficient and stress-free check-in are the three key factors for passengers, according to internal research.
The most prominent feature of T3, which has been designed by Foster + Partners in conjunction with Virgin Atlantic, is its "Upper-Class Drive-Thru Check-In." This allows for first and business class passengers to be chauffeured up a curved ramp directly to the terminal, where they will be greeted by a Virgin Atlantic host who will complete all the formalities of check-in, including document checks and some security questions, while the passenger is still in the car. From there, passengers proceed to security, through to the Clubhouse and then onto the gate. For economy passengers, the airline is providing online and kiosk check-in.
What to Expect
"We estimate that it will take the majority of our passengers under 15 minutes to check in and get through to the departure lounge and even less time for our upper class passengers to get to the Clubhouse," said Steve Ridgeway, chief executive for Virgin Atlantic. "[This is] in contrast to most of British Airways' long-haul passengers, who will have a longer journey through the vast T5."
And though that might be a knock against the competition, it
is true; T5 promises to be huge, as the entire site—also consisting of 60
aircraft stands, two satellite buildings and a parking garage—is roughly the
British Airways also says that T5's baggage system is the
biggest, single-terminal baggage handling system in
In the hopes of easing aircraft operations, British Airways
has exclusive use of T5 aircraft parking stands. The carrier points out that
the terminal also is close to T3, which—in addition to Virgin Atlantic—houses
BA's Oneworld alliance partners
Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways offer direct
service between London Heathrow and major American cities such as