British Airways opened its new Terminal 5 at its London Heathrow Airport last spring with great fanfare. Unfortunately, the terminal really wasn't functioning fully, with major snafus in baggage-handling equipment and other problems giving an ugly shiner to the airline's service reputation. Slowly but surely, BA has worked out the problems and as of this morning, opened Terminal 5 to another 30 long-haul flights, including the daily roundtrips it makes between PHL and LHR. Also using the terminal for the first time today are flights to other U.S. cities and destinations in Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.
As it does with all its international operations, BA it touting the facilities for business- and first-class passengers. Last fall, the airline opened a new lounge for those customers at PHL, in Terminal A-West, across a wide corridor from its gate. BA officials say the PHL lounge is similar in decor and amenities -- although smaller -- to what the business traveler will find at the other end of the trip, in Terminal 5. As we've written about before, competition for premium passengers on all airlines serving Heattrow is about as keen as it gets in the airline business. Travelers who can afford to sit up front prefer LHR to other London airports, helping explain why US Airways added a PHL-LHR flight last year while still serving the PHL-London Gatwick route. And Continental recently decided to give up serving Gatwick from its Newark hub in favor of flying just to LHR.