British Airways promises queues will be a thing of the past for passengers using Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
“Customers should make it from check-in, via fast-bag drop, and through security to departures in about 10 minutes,” said the airline.
Up to 82,000 BA passengers a day will leave Terminals 1 and 4, allowing more space for the remaining carriers.
Terminal 5 will eventually be capable of handling 30 million passengers a year – a significant improvement when Heathrow was until this week handling 68 million in facilities built for two-thirds that number.
Along with adequate space and no queues, BA promises few lost bags. The new terminal will have the most sophisticated baggage system in Europe, capable of handling 12,000 bags an hour – double the existing luggage capacity for the airline’s passengers at Terminals 1 and 4.
Once passengers check in – and BA believes four out of five will do so at self-service kiosks or online – they will deposit their bags at one of 96 fast-bag drops or 54 customer-service desks.
The bags will be lowered into a network of high-speed tracks where scanners read their electronic tags and direct each piece to the right flight.
The system should be capable of finding an individual bag at any time and has been designed in two sections to survive a malfunction in one. BA and Heathrow operator BAA have been testing the system for 18 months.
Passing through security should also be quicker as every channel will have a high-tech scanner producing multiple images of a bag’s contents.