Viewing entries tagged

LHR Sells Ready-To-Fly Last Minute Picnics

The end of economy-class plane food?

Passengers flying via Heathrow Airport now have the option to take on board ready-to-fly picnics.
Instead of often nondescript tray meals, people can now chow down on take-away boxes prepared at one of the airport's 70 restaurants, which include Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food, Caviar House and Strada.

Whilst it was introduced a few years ago at T5, the service is now airport-wide. Caviar House is probably the coolest—meals come within an ice compartment.

Beats most food offered in coach class. 

Beats most food offered in coach class. 

All food boxes are said to be fitting nicely in the overhead compartments, and since this service is mostly used by long haul travelers, it shouldn't add up to the overhead wars. 

A New Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2

The new Terminal 2 at LHR is still in soft-opening, with more airlines transferring from the old (and doomed) T1, but many lounges, from United Club to Lufthansa's are already opened.

Plaza Premium has had presences in Asia and North America, but has finally landed in Europe. LoungeBuddy has the goods. Looks pretty nice.



They will also open an arrival lounge in the near future.

Beautiful Visualizations of Flights over Europe, the Atlantic and the Arabian Peninsula

The National air Traffic Services (NATS), the company that handles most of UK air traffic (a whopping 2.2 million flights a year!) offers some pretty amazing air traffic visualizations on its Vimeo page.

The sequences were produced by 422 South. The above North Atlantic Skies video shows a 24 hour period of real flight data during the 2013 summer. That represents roughly 2500 flights.

I love how they outlined the various control centers' areas of command. Beautiful.

Besides North America, NATS is also active in Europe, the Middle-East and Asia. The video of the Arabian Peninsula was created from data taken between November 28 and 29, 2013. With Dubai's DXB overtaking London's LHR as the busiest airport in terms of international traffic, this visualization is bound to look busier in years to come.

NATS's original base, the UK, is heavily highlighted in the third video below. 

You should definitively also check 422 South's YouTube channel. It has additional fantastic videos, including some other flight paths. 

NATS North Atlantic Skies and the New York Oceanic Control Center (image credit: 422 South)

(captain's hat tip: Pietro Zuco)

Positive Boarding to Reduce Delays at LHR

A year ago, LHR introduced a new technology in its Terminal 1 and 3:

‘Positive boarding’ will help reduce airlines’ last minute searches for passengers or their bags, as well as give travellers more accurate information to help them smoothly through their journey.

Think of it as a way to tell airlines if you're going to make the flight or not. In other words, 'positive boarding' is a marketing term for passenger tracking.

When you scan your boarding pass at the automated gate, the PASS system sends the data to the airline, which can verify if you're in the correct terminal and how much time you have to reach the gate. The airline can then determine if you're too late and if they should offload your bag, avoiding further delays. 

Positive boarding (image courtesy of Heathrow Airports)

Messages can be displayed to warn you to rush toward the departure gate or to return to a check-in gate if you're too late (the ideal scenario would also include warning integration with the airline mobile app or a SMS gateway, but fragmentation is high there; that shall be the topic of another post).  I've personally never seen it in action (I'm a regular at LHR Terminal 1 and 3 but never late I guess),

Each minute spent on the tarmac for a plane in LHR costs around $115. Offloading a luggage often means losing a take-off slot, making the aircraft go at back of the queue. That can add up to 20-30 minutes. You do the math.

Data mentioned by Heathrow in 2013 seemed to show that more than 40% of Virgin Atlantic passengers were at risk delaying a departure. Adding Terminal 1, 3 and 4 together, late-running travelers were apparently responsible for 50,000 minutes of delay (with security sometimes not properly staffed or information displays being occasionally late to publish information, blaming passengers alone is evidently too easy and not my intent at all here).

Besides Terminal 5 which already had a similar technology thanks to British Airways and after Virgin and United, the 'Positive Boarding' technology has now been integrated with Malaysia Airlines systems. No word on the actual efficiency of the system since last July though. 

The current (soft) opening of Terminal 2 should see this adopted more widely.