I was at the airport today, seeing off people. I know at the moment that it is fashionable to bash Heathrow, and with the opening of Terminal 5 needing some serious PR work in order to convince the world that it is working, I may just seem to be another little blogger jumping on the bandwagon. Of course, there is the third runway. Just for the record, I can see arguments both for and against the third runway, and so at the moment I am a complete fence sitter on the subject.
At just under twenty-three years old, Terminal Four is not the oldest structure at Heathrow, but it was looking a little bit tardy until recently. I have used it quite a few times in the past, especially when BA used to fly to Seychelles. And to be honest, if you decide to drive into Heathrow, Terminal 4 is the easiest one to get to, built in the spirit of the 1980's! Now BAA have decided on an overhaul of the terminal, something that is long overdue.
On entering the car park, I knew something was very wrong. Poorly lit, just like, well, a multi-storey car park, there was nowhere to get a luggage trolley. The lifts, simply smelt of piss. All this for a tenner.
Then came the terminal itself. You could check in at Zone A (huge and empty), B (equally empty as there were no flights for the super jumbo leaving) or E (past the hoardings, pass more hoarding, yeah, that's it, right at the end, in the corner, where the lights dim out because we cannot replace the bulbs, that queue, well actully, that crowd, yeah, we managed to spare three check-in desks for you, that's all right, that's where you got to go). It took an hour and a half to finally check-in. Goodness knows where their bags have ended up.
Oh, we haven't come to the best part, something to eat. While I am fully aware of the rip off at the airport, at least I would like to get ripped off. However, at Terminal Four you have the choice of the following: a branch of a nationwide chain of newsagents, a branch of a coffee shop franchise, an overcrowded pub (also part of a chain) or a hotel (there are only three of these in the world). That's it. But, there are four money changing facilities available, should you wish to directly consume sterling! Terminal 4 must be the only airport building in the country where money changers outnumber eateries.
To say Heathrow is a disgrace is a cliche. But for the first time, I really was disgusted at London. Yeah, we know London is a dump, it is ill planned and all that. But, it has character, and it does it in a fascinating way. Really, would it have been so much effort to close Terminal four while it was being rebuilt? And could they rebuild it in such an incompetent way? Because at the moment, there is nothing to that terminal. It may not get the news or glamour of T5, but surely, someone else must have noticed how sickening that building is. As a first impression of Britain, it is soul destroying. As a final two fingered salute to the departures from this island, it does a bulldog proud. Spare yourself the insult that is T4 and head somewhere else. Anywhere else. Even, (gulp), Terminal 2...