Just when you think you have mastered the terminals at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, things are about to change. Both airports are undergoing major terminal changes over the next 24 months that are sure to leave some occasional flyers scratching their heads. The number and scope of changes planned for the months ahead is so extensive that even listing them all in The Independent is confusing.
The changes at Heathrow and Gatwick are a direct result of record volume this past year. The two airports combined to service 111 million passengers by way of airlines such as British Airways, EasyJet, Icelandair, Vietnam Airlines, American Airlines, and Qantas. Not only are Heathrow and Gatwick two of the busiest airports in the world, they service the busiest city in the world for air traffic.
Swapping Terminals and Airports
The two biggest winners in the reshuffling will be British Airways (BA) and EasyJet. BA currently has operations in Terminals 1, 3, and 5 at Heathrow. Terminal 1 will eventually be closed, but BA will remain operational there until the end of June. Beginning in July, the airline's operations will be consolidated in Terminals 3 and 5; 85% of their flights will arrive and depart from Terminal 5. The new terminal was specifically built to be the base of BAs operations at Heathrow.
Over at Gatwick, things are being shuffled around to provide EasyJet with the same type of arrangement that BA now enjoys at Heathrow's Terminal 5. At the current time, EasyJet operates out of Gatwick's North and South terminals in a rather confusing array that is known for giving passengers trouble. BA has agreed to move its Gatwick operations from the North to the South, enabling EasyJet to concentrate all of its operations in the North Terminal. BA benefits by having their operations closer to Gatwick's rail lines.
In order to make all of the changes at both airports possible, a number of smaller airlines will also have to shuffle their operations. For example, Icelandair will be moving from Heathrow's Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 beginning in March. At Gatwick, Virgin Air will be vacating their South Terminal space in order to join Emirates, Thomson, and Turkish Airlines on the other end. Vietnam Airlines will have the biggest challenge when they move from Gatwick to Heathrow later this year.
Plan in Advance
There is little doubt that all of the shuffling is going to cause quite a bit of confusion and consternation among travellers. The best advice anyone can give passengers if to plan well in advance. Regardless of when a flight is booked, passengers should check with their airlines to find out exactly where terminals will be located on the date of the flight. They should double check a few days before departure just to make sure.
The next 24 months will be challenging at Heathrow and Gatwick. In the end, both airports should be more streamlined and passenger friendly. At least that is the plan.
- The Independent – http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/heathrow-and-gatwick-terminal-confusion-at-londons-airports-9997793.html