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.
deals with, takes responsibility for
international passenger traffic
people who travel on planes from one country to another
becoming bigger, increasing in size
to deal (with a difficult situation) successfully
offered, stated, suggested (used when talking about a plan or action that people will consider)
when you think or believe something good will happen
a thousand million
splendid and impressive
from the outset
from the very beginning
here, sufficient, enough
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
in a state of confusion, poorly organised
not enough, insufficient
a large quantity of unfinished work that has built up over a period of time and which must be dealt with
relieve, make easier
here, when lost bags are kept safe for a short time in a special building/place until somebody deals with them
a humiliating failure