|At Newark the night of my departure for London|
Forty-five minutes later the problem was solved. Only the exceedingly pleasant demeanor of the United agents mitigated my frustration at the disconnect between these two airlines, who are supposed to be thisclose as fellow members of the Star Alliance.
|Reporters and photographers get a tour of the new terminal|
|Common kiosks for check in|
|Heathrow COO, Holland-Kaye talks to reporters|
Holland-Kaye said housing alliance airlines together is a benefit to passengers.
"It is terrific for transit passengers because it is much easier to transfer within a terminal than between terminals and it just makes it easier for Star to sell short connection times."
|The main "plaza" at Terminal 2|
|Terminal designer, Luis Vidal|
Sprucing up an airport isn't like installing a Jacuzzi where your 1950s-style tub/shower combo used to be. Enormous complications notwithstanding, there are some stellar airports in addition to Long Beach. Singapore's Changi, Denver International are two others that come to mind. Next week I'll be touring Doha's Hamad International which will be getting its first true workout with the arrival of airline executives from around the world for the International Air Transport Association annual meeting. (Then there are the airports like New York's JFK that don't even try to be good.)
The difference between those airports and Heathrow's ambitious remake of all of its terminals is vast. Heathrow is old and size restricted. The controversy over adding another runway is so heated, a final decision has been put off until after the 2015 parliamentary elections. Wait too long, some British tourism and commerce officials say, and the booming airports in Asia and the Gulf could siphon away enough of London's transfer traffic to make a new runway unnecessary, to the great economic disadvantage of the country.
Despite, or perhaps because of the challenges, Terminal 2 will officially open with great fanfare. Queen Elizabeth will cut the ribbon on the 23rd of June just as she did 60 years ago. (Click here for some wonderful photos of that event.)
|Queen Elizabeth at Heathrow in 1969 photo courtesy Heathrow|
In the meantime, United will be first to shake out the glitches when it begins to use the terminal on June 4. Sometime in the not-too-distant future, its fair to expect it will be "seamlessly" checking in customers whether they booked with United, Lufthansa or any other of their roommates in the Star Alliance terminal.
|A worker points out some hard-to-reach smudges on the glass|
|Sealing the brickwork floors in front of the Queen's Terminal|