This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
 
You are in: Learning English > Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation > News about Britain
 
News about Britain

Heathrow terminal 5

Terminal 5 of London Heathrow airport

Listen Listen to the story
Download Download (603 K mp3)

London Heathrow is the biggest airport in the UK and it also handles more international passenger traffic than any other airport in the world. For this reason, expansion was planned and on 27th March a fifth terminal opened to help to cope with the many passengers that pass through the airport.

The new terminal has taken a long time to plan and build. The idea was first proposed back in the 1980s. The opening of it has been talked about widely in the media in the UK and expectations were high for the £4.3 billion project.

However, in spite of long preparations at Terminal 5 ahead of the grand opening, things soon descended into chaos. There were problems from the outset as staff had difficulties finding car parking spaces and getting through security to get into the building. This consequently caused a delay when passengers started to arrive and adequate numbers of staff were not in place. Long passenger queues formed and the slow start meant that everyone had to play catch-up from the beginning.

Staff were having problems using the new systems and a baggage handler told the BBC, it was all "a shambles the moment the doors opened". The terminal has been designed to handle 12,000 bags an hour but due to a reported "lack of training and essential support that was promised", a backlog of luggage soon materialised.

By lunchtime on that first day, 20 flights had been cancelled to try and alleviate the problems. Flights continued to be cancelled in the days following the opening and up to 28,000 bags have now had to be placed in temporary storage.

BA, the only airline operating at Terminal 5 says it is working to clear the backlog, but the negative publicity caused by this fiasco has not helped the airport or the airline's reputation at all.

 

Vocabulary

handles
deals with, takes responsibility for

international passenger traffic
people who travel on planes from one country to another

expansion
becoming bigger, increasing in size

to cope
to deal (with a difficult situation) successfully

proposed
offered, stated, suggested (used when talking about a plan or action that people will consider)

expectations
when you think or believe something good will happen

billion
a thousand million

grand
splendid and impressive

from the outset
from the very beginning

adequate
here, sufficient, enough

queues formed
people stood one after another in long lines

to play catch-up
to act quickly in order not to miss something (here, their flights). Literally, in a sport or game, to try to match the performance of another competitor

a baggage handler
somebody whose job it is to load and unload airplane baggage

a shambles
in a state of confusion, poorly organised

lack of
not enough, insufficient

a backlog
a large quantity of unfinished work that has built up over a period of time and which must be dealt with

materialised
appeared

alleviate
relieve, make easier

temporary storage
here, when lost bags are kept safe for a short time in a special building/place until somebody deals with them

fiasco
a humiliating failure


 
DOWNLOAD ACTIVITIES
 
blue arrow
 
Download this pdf file (67 K) to practise your English
 
 
RELATED LINKS
 
blue arrow
 
Words in the news: Heathrow terminal 5 chaos
 
 
blue arrow
 
Quiznet: 6 questions about planes and flying
 
 
blue arrow
 
Queen opens new Heathrow terminal
 
 
blue arrow
 
BA postpones long-haul move to T5
 
 
blue arrow
 
'You are now in terminal 5' *

* The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
 
 
OTHER STORIES
 
blue arrow
 
Archive