Heathrow's Terminal 2 opens: New dawn begins with a cancelled train, but the first departure leaves on time

Passengers impressed with airport's 'beautiful' and 'modern' addition to Europe's busiest airport

travel editor

“It was beautiful,” said the first passenger to emerge from the world's newest airport terminal. Dave Litos exited International Arrivals at Heathrow Terminal 2 less than 15 minutes after his United Airlines aircraft had arrived at the stand from Chicago. “I felt welcome.”

United is the first airline to move into the £2.5bn terminal at the heart of Europe's busiest airport; 25 more carriers are to follow. Bob Schumacher, United's UK managing director, described the revived Terminal 2 as “Great for Heathrow, great for London and great for the UK's hub”.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's chief executive-designate, said: “It's just how we imagined it would be.” Mark Schwab, chief executive of the Star Alliance, said: “It's a whole new, different travel experience, minimising the time spent on the formalities. It's to give control of people's time back to them.”

Heathrow's new dawn had begun with a cancelled train. The first rail departure from London Paddington stopped short of its destination because of a strike by Heathrow Express staff. Baffled passengers and airport workers waited in the rain for a delayed bus to complete their journeys.

Anyone fortunate enough to make it to Terminal 2 found Costa Coffee distinctly off-message in its choice of music, with Talking Heads' Road to Nowhere blaring out to passengers and media. But airside, a string quartet was soothing pre-flight nerves with a selection of patriotic tunes including Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem.

Terminal 2 has risen not from green and pleasant land, but on the site of Heathrow's original jet-age terminal. It is similar in scale to Terminal 5, but is in the central area, adjacent to Terminals 1 and 3. Airlines will be moving from those terminals to the new facility over the next four months.

Terminal 2's first departure, United Airlines flight 123 to Washington DC, left on time at 7.30am. On board was Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. But the 47-year-old American had not checked his own website before setting off for the airport.

“I didn't even know I was coming here this morning,” he said as he checked in. “Is it just opening today? It's a beautiful terminal.”

Mr Wales said: “Terminal 5 has been really wonderful for travellers and the perception of the city. If you come into one of the older terminals, you think 'Uh oh, London's a bit run-down,' but here you think 'how modern'.”

Opening day revealed some snags: the payphones in international arrivals were not working, so arriving passengers had to borrow reporters' phones to call friends and family. The strike by Heathrow Express staff halved the normal 15-minute service to both Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. But John Holland-Kaye of Heathrow said: “So far so good. This will massively improve the passenger experience. This gives Britain a global gateway that is world-class.”

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments