The detailed plans for a new runway and terminal at Heathrow were announced today, having recently been approved by the UK Government.
"It has to be realised that the skies are crowded, and the days of checking in and getting onto your flight, and picking up the bags at the other end are, if not over, numbered. Our new runway and terminal design reflect the modern reality of air travel," opens the Press Statement.
The first design feature is a 4 mile long shopping mall. Set to be one of the largest enclosed spaces in Europe, passengers enter into one end, check in about 2 miles in, then have a further 2 miles of duty free shops to negotiate before they reach the gates.
"Much adverse publicity has been made out of pictures of passengers laying around in terminals for hours waiting for delayed flights. Nearly all our flights are delayed for at least 2 hours, which is how long it will take the average passenger to walk from one end of the mall to the other. Therefore for the average passenger, the delay will appear to be zero. For longer delays passengers can treat their trip to the airport like a 'day out at the shops', so bring along your credit cards and extra cash!" enthuses the statement.
The second revolutionary feature of the planned terminal is the 'virtual airport' screen at the terminal gates. An enormous 170' wide x 70' high video screen, looking like a glass window shows CGI footage of planes landing and taking off, taxiing straight to the gate where crisply uniformed baggage handlers carefully unload luggage and speed it to the carousels.
"We found that one thing people said they liked about airports in other countries is the planes landing and taking off without delay, taxiing straight to the gate and the smart handlers carefully and quickly managing the luggage," continues the statement. "Clearly there is no chance of any of that happening at Heathrow, so rather than show the planes wasting fuel in holding patterns, stacked up on the taxiways, sitting for hours on the tarmac waiting for gates, and scruffy baggage handlers huddling under a shelters smoking cigarettes, or occasionally scurrying out to throw bags onto the tarmac, we came up the the 'virual airport' screen which obliterates the passengers view of the real world and provides the kind of experience the customers would wish for and have paid for."
One aspect of the virtual airport screen is that is causing most excitement is not only does it show the workings of an airport, the whole scene can be switched by the Airport controller to appear to be set on a tropical island with sunny weather.
Asked to explain the thinking behind this feature, Director, Sir Rob R Customers explained "Since there is every probability that a lot of the travellers using the new runway & terminal aren't ever going to make it to their destination, and for whatever reason, this seems to be thing that most gets passengers in a rioutous mood, then we thought, wouldn't it be nice to cheer them up with some sunny weather and a feeling of what it's like to be on holiday - and with the virtual airport screen - we can give that to them! I'm sure when they go home, it will be a long-remembered and cherished memory of how much BAA cares about and goes that extra virtual mile for its customers. And that's what we find with our customers, no matter how much they moan and groan, or involve the Ombudsman - they come back to our airports year after year and I'll bet my Knighthood they'll be back next year (or to one of the other BAA UK airports, since we own all them all anyway)."