Since opening in June 2014, Terminal 2 or The Queen's Terminal at London Heathrow has become firm favourite for passengers flying in, out or connecting through London.
T2 is home for 23 airlines whom belong to the Star Alliance network, along with Aer Lingus and Germanwings. Airlines gradually moved into their shiny new home over the course of six months. This decision was made in order to allow Heathrow to iron out any teething troubles and ensure everything was running smoothly, as opposed to what happened when T5 opened. More than 14,000 volunteers (including me) took part in a series of passenger trials, which was very interesting and well thought out. I really enjoyed playing a part in the process to get the terminal ready for opening.
Terminal 2 consists of the main terminal, T2A; and a satellite, known as T2B, which has been in operation for a few years now. Inside, you'll find the general layout fairly similar to Terminal 5; but with a few differences, owing to feedback from both the public and the airlines themselves. It is also the only terminal at Heathrow where the arrivals, baggage reclaim and passport control areas are all on one single level; so there is no need to take a series of lifts, escalators or travelators.
Following an international competition, British artist Richard Wilson created a piece of artwork that is inspired by the world of aviation. Slipstream takes centre stage at Terminal 2, and weighing 77 tonnes, it is suspended from four roof supporting columns.
70 metres in length; Slipstream is the longest permanent sculpture in Europe, and is an impressive sight to behold.
Check-in takes place on Level 5, and is split into zones A-D.
There are 66 self-service and 60 standard check-in desks within the terminal, and the process is pretty straight forward.
Remember that most airlines (Air New Zealand in this case) will allow you to check-in online 24-hours prior to departure. If you have done this, then you will still need to visit the self-service desks in order to issue your boarding pass and bag tags. If there are any issues, just head over to one of the traditional desks where someone will be happy to help.
You'll be able to use the Premium Check-In desks if you are flying in Premium Economy or Business Premier. This also applies to those passengers whom are Star Alliance Gold or Koru Members. These "traditional-style" desks are located beyond the self-service and bag drop area.
Using the self-service check-in desks:
You'll need to have your passport to hand, and open on to the photo page.
Place this face-down onto the reader and wait for the beep.
After a few moments, details of your flight should the be displayed on the screen.
Simply follow the instructions, entering any information using the keyboard should it be required.
If you haven't done so before-hand, this is now the final opportunity to select your seat(s).
Your bag tags are then printed, and you'll need to attach these to your check-in baggage.
At the same time, your boarding pass will be issued.
Then make your may over to the bag drop area, where your documents will be checked and your bag(s) will be whisked away to the aircraft!
If you encounter any issues, there are plenty of representatives nearby who are delighted to help.
No need to worry, they don't bite!
With the check-in process complete, you can now pass through security and through to the departures area.
The entrance is located to the rear of check-in zones B and C.
Keep your boarding pass handy as you'll need this in order to pass through the electronic gates. Once you're through, it's now time to go through the standard airport security check-point.
In line with current regulations, you are not allowed to carry any liquids over 100ml, and that any liquids you do have must be placed in a sealed, transparent bag.
If you have a iPad, e-reader or laptop, remember to remove this from your bag and place these into one of the trays provided.
As I have experienced many a time; don't forget to remove your phone, wallet, belt and anything else that could set off the alarms as you pass through.
You'll be pleased to know that once you've done this, that's it!
The Departures Area
After exiting security, you'll find yourself on the upper-level of the departures lounge.
On this level, you'll find an array of shops including the first John Lewis to be featured at an airport, a large Boots and WHSmith's, Cath Kidston boutique, and eateries such as Heston Blumenthal's The Perfectionist Cafe, Wondertree, YO! Sushi, a London pub by Fullers, and EAT to name a few.
Downstairs, you'll find the a number of high-end brands including Burberry, Gucci, Harrods and Mulberry. If you're peckish, there's a Leon, Ca'puccino and a few other bars/eateries to choose from. I particularly like this iconic London Taxi sculpture, designed by Benedict Radcliffe. It must be good, since he shares the same name as me. 🙂
Getting to T2B
As I mentioned previously, the majority of long-haul flights will depart from T2B, the satellite terminal, which is about a 10-15 minute walk away depending on your pace. These are gates B28 - B49.
You'll then walk literally under part of the airfield along what seems like an endless corridor...
Before it is time to head back-up again!
There are a couple of shops and a Caffe Nero; should you need a caffeine fix before your flight.
Overall, I was very impressed with Heathrow's Terminal 2. It is certainly an improvement over T1, and I am pleased to have not encountered any hiccups along the way.
The bright and airy atmosphere really does make it feel more spacious, and it is a fantastic new home for Star Alliance and one of my favourite airlines.