“I walked into Heathrow airport through a thermal imaging tunnel which monitors people’s temperatures as they pass through. Having just stepped out of a lift now equipped with nano septic self-cleaning buttons, I was reassured from the start.
The first thing that caught my attention when I arrived at the T5 check-in desks was a UVD robot. This impressive machine moves around the airport using UV light to kill any trace of COVID-19. As you would expect, the check-in areas are split into zones, the queuing system is socially distanced and there are plastic screens at the check-in desks.
Everyone has their mask on, there’s sanitiser everywhere and people are walking around spraying disinfectant on surfaces. It feels clean and calm.
You’re encouraged to have an app for check-in, but a paper boarding pass is still OK. It’s a Heathrow requirement to wear masks, the only exception being when they check your face at security. Passport control was easy and all trays were thoroughly cleaned before coming back around in security.
Having made it through, I was surprised to see duty-free and most shops open. If you’re after food, then Pret, Starbucks, Fortnum and Mason, and Gordon Ramsey are your only options.
In the lounge, there’s no buffet. It’s table service only and you scan a QR code to view the menu. The service was quick. You no longer get the magazines or newspapers, but they do recommend apps to download for in-flight reading.
It’s a spacious environment already, the fabric furniture has been removed and screens are now separating seating. If you’re lucky enough to be someone who usually visits the Concorde Lounge you are now seated on the Concorde Terrace, adjacent to the Galleries Lounge.
Unfortunately, the Elemis spa isn’t open, but you can still use the showers.
As American Airlines is now co-habiting in T5 with British Airways, the two airlines are also sharing the lounges. For me, this will be a benefit for travellers in terms of the ease it brings for connections.
When it comes to boarding a plane, the call comes by row, starting at the back and working forwards. Having been informed that the planes are cleaned after every flight (as you would expect) including details such as seat buckles, I felt comfortable.
The personal hygiene kits you are provided with are a nice touch, and the provision of a bin bag so that the cabin crew doesn’t have to touch your rubbish is well thought out.
In-flight dining is limited. Your only options are boxed food products and there is no catering for special meals. Travelers with allergies or special dietary requirements should be aware of this. Drinks are also served as miniatures to avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces.
Arrivals is increasingly electronic with additional machines set up to support anticipated demand. You’ll need to complete a passenger locator form before you enter the UK. If you forget there is still time to do this whilst standing in the queue – in fact, there are numerous QR codes around to help you to do this on your smartphone.
Overall – did I feel safe? Yes. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I felt safer than I do in my local supermarket. Thank you T5!”
– YVONNE VATON