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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 15:46 GMT
Queen opens new Heathrow terminal

Map of Heathrow

Cost 4.3bn
Construction started in 2002
9 million cubic metres of earth moved during construction
30,000 square metres of glass in walls
Main terminal is 40m high
60 new aircraft stands, including 14 for the Airbus A380
13km of tunnels were bored for baggage handling and rail links
Most rainwater falling on it will be recycled
Six new rail platforms, including two for London Underground
Heathrow Terminal Five will begin operating for passengers on 27 March 2008. The giant terminal has taken six years to build at a cost of 4.3bn.

It consists of a main terminal building and two smaller satellites (B and C), the second of which is due to open in 2010. They all will serve solely British Airways flights.

The terminal has been designed by architects Richard Rogers Partnership and is the largest single-span building in Britain. The walls are made of glass and steel and the roof is a curved "wave-form".

Although T5 will not as yet mean more flights at Heathrow, airport expansion protesters fear it will pave the way to a third runway being built.


Graphic of T5 departures

The departures lounge is on the upper floors of the terminal and is accessed by "sky bridges" from the carpark and transport links.

Advanced x-ray machine

Passengers check in using one of the 96 self service kiosks just inside the entrance.

They can then leave their luggage in a "fast bag drop" area and proceed to passport control and security screening.

At passport control, domestic passengers' fingerprints are scanned and their photographs are taken. These are checked again at the departure gate to confirm identity.

Hand luggage is checked with an advanced x-ray machine designed to detect explosives and liquids and automatically divert suspicious bags to one side for further examination.

After going through security, passengers can visit the many shops and restaurants and it is then a short walk to the gates which are on three sides of the terminal.


Graphic of T5 arrivals

Passengers arriving at Terminal Five have a short walk from the gate to border control which has 36 desks to speed up the process.

From there, they can proceed to baggage reclaim with its state-of-the-art handling system, containing 18km of belts and capable of transporting 12,000 bags per hour.

British Airways says the system is so fast that passengers' bags will often be waiting for them by the time they have passed through border control.

After picking up their luggage and passing through Customs, passengers leave T5 to the new public transport or road links.

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