As some of you know, I’ve been testing airport terminals for years (and sometimes the patience of both airport staff and saints). Ever since the rather informal Heathrow Terminal Four testing phase in 1985/6 when anyone who worked at LHR or LATCC was “press-ganged” into helping, to the rather better planned and much larger scale testing of the new Terminal 2 that’s under way right now.
Those of you with a keen eye and a penchant for reading a broadsheet, will notice that I have subtly side-stepped any mention of my involvement with the testing of Terminal 5. Which means that no-one need ever know that I had anything to do with it. (You see, I’m not nearly as stupid as people say I look)!
So yesterday was the latest of a series of large-scale tests of T2. I had a friend with me, Catherine and we were to be testing the check-in and boarding gate processes.
Our script called for us to simulate the whole process for three imaginary flights, one each to Shannon, Edinburgh and Belfast, flying with Aer Lingus and Virgin. For the first of these, our boarding cards were in the names of Martha and Carta Drayton (see what they did there)? So to get into the spirit of our ‘roles’ we decided that we were obviously about to embark on our honeymoon (hey Shannon’s not a bad place to honeymoon)! I quite liked the name Carta Drayton, but why on earth for the next two flights was I a woman?
I should stress, that we’re not actually married, we were just following our script, with a little method acting for fun.
The terminal is almost complete but nonetheless it is still a construction site. By now the contractors are all aware of the many testing days that are happening, but I’d like to think that at least some saw the coaches approaching and momentarily thought “Shit, PASSENGERS – Aaaarrrgggghhhh”.
The whole process was monitored by a large number of observers who were testing the processes, the flight information screens and check in software etc. After the whole process was complete we were able to comment and give feedback, raise concerns and offer constructive criticism.
Finally we were coached back to our hotel and fed a really scrumptious lunch (I had the minute steak) during which there was a further question and answer session. The variety of comments and suggestions was quite wide-spread.
I would have loved to have taken more photos – but we were asked not to take pictures inside the terminal until it’s ready for unveiling. What I can tell you is that there’s an enormous sculpture which I think is amazing although it’s a pity that someone’s managed to damage it already. No doubt a repair will happen shortly.
With further testing days happening on a weekly basis until the launch day, there’s more fun to come I’m sure.