back to article T5 opening turns into Airplane 3.0

The opening of BAA’s Terminal 5 today was marred by the disappearance of passengers’ baggage followed by the disappearance of entire planes as the terminal’s sole occupant, BA, threw up its hands in despair. The £4.3bn terminal, which opened this morning, has been touted as the gateway to a new UK, where dwindling industrial …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Tim

    Who'd have thunk it!

    "British Airways admitted "teething problems" and put at least some of the problems down to "staff familiarity" and "delays in staff security provision""

    .....I know for a fact T5 have been running trial day's with invited pseudo-travvelers, usually travel industry workers having a skive, for the very purpose of eliminating or identifying "teething problems".

  2. John Imrie

    Another British Cockup

    I wonder if we will get the Olympics right.

  3. Lyndon Hills


    So as not to unsettle travellers, the experience is the same as at terminals 1 to 4.

  4. Rob
    Thumb Up

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer company.

    That is all.

  5. Neil

    Saw a program

    On TV the other night (Ok, I only saw the last 5 minutes of it) that was telling us about how the new baggage system worked. My first thought was "that'll go wrong."

    I didn't realise quite how quickly I'd be right...

  6. Senor Beavis

    WHOOO! Go UK

    Yet another commendable success to show our European neighbours.

    Unless it's a French conspiracy to scupper our football and air travel to make Sarko look good.

    And remind me, we're planning to build a shed-load of nuclear power stations? Is anyone else considering moving to the Southern Hemisphere before they come online?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    British Engineering at it's best!

    Any takers on whether the Olympic's will go without a hitch?



  8. Anonymous Coward

    I'd just like to say

    Good luck. All those passengers are counting on them.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I remember....

    watching a documentary about the new airport in Japan (I think?), where they knocked the tops off the mountains and dumped them into the sea to make an island for it to be built on? Once construction was complete they shut down the old airport at about 22:00 and then moved all the stuff for bagage handling etc from one site to the other and had everything back up and running by 8 am the next morning.

    Why oh why oh why must we be forever doomed to fail at everything we try to do? I mean surely the systems were fully tested before going operational? didn’t they get a few hundred volunteers to turn up with suitcases and see if it all worked?

  10. Andre Carneiro

    Heathrow, eh?

    One terminal is pretty much like all the others in that pit of all abominations called Heathrow Airport.

  11. Jamie

    British ingenuity

    Amazing, this country now has the most expensive stadium in the world, and a top of the line high class hig tech building that does not function.

    Hey all we need now is a gov't that don't know what is going on.

  12. Mr B


    I told them to remove that StarGate1.5 thingy prior to building T5.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @ olympics

    Of course the Olympics will be a success, don't forget if we dont make the 2012 deadline there is a built in contingency of at least 3 extra years before the next olympic games so I guess we have a window for any unforseen elays.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gets worse...

    A friend who's trying to fly BA out of Terminal 5 just sent me a message saying that all check-in has been suspended.

    Bodes well for Day 1 of the Olympics don't you think?

  15. Dave Murray
    Dead Vulture

    Poor Mr Adams

    "Jonathan Adams, BAA Head of IT programme management and head honcho of the baggage system, is confident he can “get the bags to their destination before the people”... The principal challenge to the system's smooth operation, he has discovered, is not the software "but bag straps". With bags travelling at speeds of up to 30mph around the airport, humans are advised to stay well out of the way."

    I knew when I read that on El Reg yesterady that Mr Adams was going to be looking a bit red faced soon. I didn't realise it would be on the opening day! Guess bag straps were not their biggest challenge. :D

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe its just me

    Some perspective would be wise, it was never going to be a seamless transfer, it sounds like it been a bit bumpy but this really isn't a surprise. Its not a disaster and I'm sure the guys there will be working around the clock to get it right within the next couple of days.

    SB, yours is a typical whingeing Brit comment. We are actually rather good at 'organising big things' in this country, I have no doubt that the Olympics will be a success and great fun too.

    I'm sure our French friends, are all laughing hysterically I mean failure of a baggage system is obviously far worse than the collapse of CDG's roof flattening five people...

    I hope you enjoy your new life in New Zealand, its a beautiful place, though they don't like whingers much.

  17. Timbo
    Thumb Down

    BA Flight to Paris

    I just heard a report on the BBC news that said a reporter had flown to Paris from T5, and when they landed in France, the flight crew said that EVERYONE'S baggage had been left behind at Heathrow....!!

    What was all that baloney they said that the baggage system had been running flawlessly for the last six months.....

    Surely you would have thought that they would have started off with maybe 5 flights the first day and then slowly scaled it up.....keeping an eye on all their system to ensure everything DID work flawlessly.

    Talk about the ineptitude of the people in charge....!

  18. Jim Willsher

    Good job...

    Not a bad result for five years' planning and countless dry-runs. Did complacency rule?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *hysterical cackle*

    Thank God for Gatwick and Terminals 2 and 4, where such mediocrity is situation du jour.

    Why on earth BA didn't consider switching first selected long-haul flights from T1 to T5, and then migrating the Euro flights somewhat later, or vice versa, is beyond me. Yes, Flight Connections would've been crap, but at least cancellations would've been at a minimum.

    And to think I was hoping this wouldn't all end in tears...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Echo the nicer company bit

    I fly a lot for work (sorry about the carbon impact, but I have no choice in my current career).

    I would rather take the bus than fly BA.

    After the second trip when they cancelled my ticket and refused to give me a refund because my connecting flight was delayed I decided enough was enough. They may claim to be the worldest favourite airline, but I'm guessing that none of those people have actually flown with the arrogant tw*ts.

    Also right on about T5 experience now matching that at the other terminals. Heathrow is an absolute disgrace and an embarassment to the country. Airports in most developing nations are cleaner and better maintained. Perhaps they could spend some of that duty free money on employing cleaners, replacing worn carpets, and speeding up security.

  21. mad clarinet

    Well maybe....

    ...they'll have some of it fixed and working by the time I use T5 in June

    well - hopefully. Maybe... possibly....

    Mines the one at the back - I probably need to get there now to be in time

  22. Aram
    Thumb Up

    @I'd just like to say

    I nearly sprayed coffee over my keyboard - great comment!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @WHOOO! Go UK

    Non égal nous Français pourrions avoir imaginé celui-ci

  24. Johnny G

    2 companies

    "British Airways admitted "teething problems" and put at least some of the problems down to "staff familiarity" and "delays in staff security provision""

    Careful here - remember it's BAA that own the terminal and are responsible for it's operation, even if British Airways are the sole occupants. BA get a LOT of bad press for things beyond their control, like when BAA screw up.

  25. Beezle Bob
    Black Helicopters

    BAA is now a Spanish company...

    ...remember that when slating 'BAA'. 'BAA' doesn't even stand for anything anymore. It used to be British Airports Authority.. but this is no longer used by BAA.

    BAA is the noise sheep make. The sheep are the people being herded around the various retail outlets. The sheepdogs are the security personnel directing the sheep to the shops. The Sheppard is commercialism. The terrorist is the wolf in sheep's clothing... I could go on...

    (We so need a sheep icon)

  26. martin burns

    Baggage Checkin now suspended.

    ...and my flight is in just about 2h. The two before mine have been cancelled already.

    Bloody employer travel portal that wouldn't let me fly BMI this week as the BA ticket was cheaper...

  27. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    I am pro-aviation in all its forms and normally I would have at least felt some sympathy for the operator of a large new airport facility running into start-up problems.

    But in this case I think - it serves them right for that fingerprint treachery they tried to pull off.

    Also, people as arrogant as the guy from BAA who spoke on BBC News this morning about how relaxed the staff at BAA was and how confident they were that everything will work just fine deserve to be brought back to the ground and face the reality.

  28. Dan White
    Jobs Horns

    Two bags bo***cks

    Same thing *every* time at Bristol Airport, where the "security" staff have to have a degree in Jobsworth before they are allowed to put on the uniform.

    I regularly carry 20+ PDAs in my hand luggage to demo to clients, so the laptop needs to stay in its own bag. Last time I was there the woman in front of me in the queue sailed past with a cabin bag and a handbag bigger than my laptop bag. Guess who got stopped.

    I tried asking why she was allowed a huge handbag when my "man-bag" wasn't, but clearly he wasn't smart enough to get a Sex and the City reference.

    So, open the case, remove 20 PDAs, spare batteries and mains adapters and secrete them all over my person... stuffed in 6 jacket pockets, trousers, in my socks, mains leads round my neck, etc. Put laptop in cabin bag, and head to security looking like a Michelin Man wired to explode at any second. The look on the faces of the security staff when my jacket went through the X-Ray machine made it *almost* worthwhile.

    As others have said, get through security, and in clear sight of the staff, undo cabin bag, remove laptop bag, stuff everything back into cabin bag and bugger off onto the plane with both bags, where nobody gives a shit.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Lost baggage, poor sign posts, crap parking, poor disabled access, poor staff training, breakdowns...

    Business as usual then?

    Oh hold on, that's not true, when do the staff go on strike?

  30. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    Don't worry folks, it gets better

    by the minute

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better than I expected...

    I've been doing some installation work there....

    I'm not finished in time though, because I'm still waiting for BAA to complete work that was due in November. Everyone else I speak to at T5 says the same thing. I'm amazed that the opening day went as well as it did.

  32. Snake Plissken

    Looks like...

    someone picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue...

    Mine is the jacket on the flight to Hong Kong.

  33. Nomen Publicus

    See what happens when you don't fingerprint!

    What do you really want to avoid on the first day? A new baggage handling system to breakdown.

    The fact that it did breakdown is just an example of Murphys Law. However, the fact that nobody seems to have worked out procedures to work around the problem is worrying.

    Why was the move to T5 done as a big-bang rather than a gradual transfer over a week or two?

    No doubt someone will suggest that fingerprinting everybody would have improved matters...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    British Management: finest in the world

    And these clowns are the ones we're supposed to entrust with our fingerprints when we pass through, and who are supposed to destroy all record of them afterwards?

    'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear'

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. Stewart Haywood

    It's a bit like Fawlty Towers,

    except that the Spanish waiter is the boss this time.

    The penguin because he looks so sad that he must have lost his baggage.

  37. Herby

    Airport "security"

    Why, why, why don't they have a "security" device that is like one of those moving walkways. It shuffles you through, and if you need more "inspection", you bet pushed into the reject pile. Forget all those metal detectors, and stuff. If they can do it on assembly lines, why not at an airport.

    Of course, they could treat every human like baggage and wrap it all up and put it on the carousel only to get lost. Reminds me of a sequence in one of the Airplane movies.

    And I'm flying tomorrow.

  38. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    @Another British Cockup

    > By John Imrie

    "I wonder if we will get the Olympics right."

    Fortunately we will not need to ghetto them via terminate 5.

    Besides which, ever since Frank and Jesse Wright circumnavigated The Channel we have been in sore need of something to keep out those dirty johnnie rotters. Just IN time for the Olympics, I'd say.

    We might even win a medal this time.

    Wot we need now is a Terminator 5 icon. A big V off sign we can wear with pride.

  39. Foussais
    Paris Hilton


    So much for state-of-the-ark (sorry, art) technology.

    Anyone for Paris?

    But perhaps not today!

  40. Sam Tana

    Picked the wrong date

    They should have waited until next Tuesday. April 1st.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    There's a problem with the terminal?

    What is it?

    It's a big building where passengers go but that's not important right now.

  42. Man Outraged

    Quote from the BBC...

    I was just about to post with "Where's the IT angle" then I saw this on the BBC:

    "The computer cannot cope with the number of bags going through"

    Baggage worker

    Anybody got any insider info on this poject? Outsourced? Mis-managed by fist-thumping moronic managers who know nothing about software!?

  43. Richard Stocks

    Have to laugh

    I (with my family) flew BA out of Heathrow to Boston last night. When we landed, we were greeted with a message that one of our bags had been left behind.

    The BA baggage services guy (who seriously didn't give a toss, and actually mentioned that with the amount of flying I do I should consider myself lucky they haven't lost more of my luggage) seemed to think it would all be magically fixed when T5 came online. I laughed at him.

    Flammable, just like all the items I pack.

  44. Mike Moyle

    If it's any consolation...

    ...You're making us feel much better about Denver International, thank you very much!

  45. Alex McKenna

    I wonder what OS they are using on the BAA computers?

    Do you think it might be Windows Vista?

    About time they replaced Heathrow with an airport on the Thames estuary. NOT run by BAA.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Sack the Management!

    "We always knew the first day would represent a unique challenge because of the size and complexity of the move into Terminal 5. We are working extremely hard on solutions to these short term difficulties."

    They didn't train enough; they didn't test enough --- Management failure as usual, thinly disguised by marketing crap talk.

    But things could be worse... at one of the recent Private/Public partnership airports here in India, the Private bit of the partnership (Ahhh, now I come to think of it, a European company, so Prince Philip can just keep quiet) was extremely disappointed that the Indian government insisted on proper testing of ATC procedures before the airport opened. They thought this an unnecessary drain on their profits.

    I have only one non-stop choice between here and Heathrow. I wish someone would give BA some competition on this route.

  47. Peter Simpson
    Paris Hilton

    Bag Straps

    The principal challenge to the system's smooth operation, he has discovered, is not the software "but bag straps".

    Perhaps we could put him in touch with the bloke who designed the automated baggage handling system for Denver, Colorado. Or, maybe, the "new" T5 baggage handling system is the same one *removed* from DIA a few years back. They never managed to make it work...

    Paris, because she's got lots of baggage...

  48. Peter Simpson
    Black Helicopters

    DIA baggage system

    Do a google on "DIA Baggage". I don't suppose the contractor for the new T5 baggage system was BAE by any chance?

    Plenty of bugs in that system, eh?

  49. Jeroen Braamhaar

    @AC:: RE: I remember....

    The airport you're thinking of is Hong Kong's new airport, Lan Tau International Airport I believe it's called.

    Yes, they DID overnight the equipment from Kai Tak to Lan Tau (shutting down the old airport at 22:00 and opening Lan Tau a few hours later, trucking all the equipment to the new site ~50km away) and hoped to open it the next day, and while the passgenger side of the new airport worked without too much hiccups, it's automated freight system was on the fritz for several weeks causing a massive freight backlog which caused all kinds of problems.

    The island airport in Japan you're thinking of is Kansai International airport near Osaka; it opened without any problems but operations there have been complicated by the island settling and sinking - fortunately it hasn't impeded passenger flow, but it will cause trouble in years to come unless some serious action is taken ....

    hope this helps to clear things up ...

  50. Anonymous John

    @ Punishment

    "deserve to be brought back to the ground"

    If they were at T5, they never left it.

  51. Steve

    Only a matter of time...

    ...before they start bussing people back to T4.

    It could be worse. Remember the Denver airport baggage fiasco? At least T5 hasn't eaten anyone. Yet.

    Denver works OK now, even if it does take half an hour to get from the freeway exit to the terminal, and that's only because they built the whole place in the middle of nowhere.

  52. Glenn Gilbert
    Paris Hilton

    @Two bags bo***cks

    Just carry a black dustbin sack with you. When the jobsworths tell you "you can't take that, it's more than one bag", pull the black sack out of your pocket and put your cases into it and it's one big bag. As soon as you've passed the jobsworths, you can remove them.

    But we're so much safer FFS.

    As for that thieving Home Secretary; she owes me a bottle of shampoo and some toothpaste.

    Paris isn't even that stupid.

  53. Mister Cheese

    Project mismanagers

    I bet the project managers had an oh-so-useful MBA... why this is even mentioned on the HSMP-requirements ahead of engineering, I'll never know. Maybe a politician thinks they're all that's required for industry.

    I recently flew with Cathay Pacific to Taipei. My luggage missed the connecting-flight in Hong Kong due to a BAA/BA delay. The Cathay representative was extremely apologetic, and provided me with a free cold drink whilst I waited the ten minutes for the next flight to arrive with my luggage.

    Normal service was resumed on the return flight when we were waiting for 2 hours at LHR-T1 for the bag mishandlers to turn up after their breakfast-break...

  54. Nick

    Airplane 3

    I'm hoping for an interview on the 10 oclock news along the lines of the following:-

    BA Spokesperson:- "Everything has gone more or less as expected"

    Reporter:- "Flights cancelled, bags lost, now only handbaggage allowed - surely you can't be serious"

    BA Spokesperson:- "I am, and don't call me Shirley".

  55. Alan Potter

    It seems Terry Jones was extremely psychic...

    (And if the title isn't grammatically correct, I don't care...

  56. Anonymous Coward

    Pure Parking Hilarity!

    Flew out of T2 this morning, no queues, sweet! Dropped my car off with the Valet parking boys who gleefully said "We just got a minibus stuck at T5, had to let the air out to remove it!"

    Well, *I* thought it was funny

  57. Michael

    Did they open at full capacity?

    Because that would seem like a bad idea under any circumstances.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    @Maybe its just me @ Echo the nicer company bit


    here's some perspective's an almighty cock up

    back in old queen vicky's day the management would have at least had the decency to take themselves off somewhere and shoot themselves for such an embaressing screw up.

    would you be such an apologista if you were trying to fly out today?

    newzealand is nicer, but then they have much less to whinge about


    completely agree! BA is the worst airline and i can not think of poorer airports than those in the UK ...well may be frankfurt and LAX come close but heathrow still takes the prize

  59. Anonymous Coward

    @Snake Plissken

    Awesome comment. Cheese & ham toastie all over my keyboard!

    The whole T5 foul up doesn't come as a surprise. And they want to fingerprint passengers?

    Joke alert because anything involving BAA is going to turn into a farce.

  60. James O'Brien

    @Snake Plissken


    Ok sorry but you beat me to what i was gonna say.

    And dont call me Shirley :)

    /Mines the one on the flight to Macho Grande

  61. Alan Potter

    See this week's New Scientist

    In the Feedback section at the back, a worker at NS talks about how they always go for the biometric Iris checking scheme. It always fails. Then he comes out, tells the airport staff that it has failed. They shrug their shoulders and put him at the front of the queue.

    I think there is a lesson in this for everyone...

  62. Anonymous Coward

    I wanted people to see this comment from the Times

    I programmed the luggage software and it's not my fault it went wrong! I didn't have resource. And anyway, I was away skiing! My mate Craig did the SQL work and he says it's not his fault either. In fact, we blame the passengers -- they had the wrong size of bags. Stupid passengers.

    Brett, Gloucester, UK

  63. James O'Shea
    Black Helicopters

    So Simon works for BAA, does he?

    It sounds as though the BOFH & the PFY got loose with a cattle prod.

    Or as though they _should_ be turned loose with a cattle prod. Or, perhaps, a 747 with a laser...

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes you proud dunnit?

    Four point three billion pounds.

    All those dress rehearsals I read about were for what purpose exactly?

  65. b166er


    No wonder the baggage system is FUBAR, the company I worked for on that site installed the CAT6 for some of it and they were a bunch of cowboys. Bet VanDerLande get the blame too, but as far as I could see, they were about the best contractor on site (Dutch).

    In the run up to completion, the place was like a swan - all serene on the surface and kicking like fuck underneath to get it done.

    Still, BA, that's what you get for putting all your eggs in an untested basket HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

  66. RW
    IT Angle

    @ Mr Cheese

    "I bet the project managers had an oh-so-useful MBA... why this is even mentioned on the HSMP-requirements ahead of engineering, I'll never know. Maybe a politician thinks they're all that's required for industry."

    Ahhhh! The sweet sound of those magic initials, EM BEE AYYYY!

    Probably the world's least useful educational qualification. AFAICT, MBA programs teach that the working stiffs are all totally fungible, interchangeable cogs you can swap around with no penalty. Expertise, education, experience, and intelligence are irrelevant to achieving organizational goals.

    Example: many years ago my idiot MBA-bearing department head was doling out the workload at a staff meeting. Item N on the list was a statistical analysis spreadsheet of something or other that I no longer remember. The job wouldn't have been at all difficult if you knew what you were doing. The MBA wiggled her pen and finally pointed it at her pet secretary, who got the assignment. Said secretary had at best a high school education and was probably one of those people who found calculating an arithmetic average a challenge.

    For several weeks I amused myself by noting said secretary sweating bullets as she struggled with a task far beyond her abilities. What the MBA-ess thought of it all, I do not know.

    I experienced great schadenfreude, but more important was the realization that The Boss evidently had no appreciation whatsoever that every one of her underlings had specialties they were better at than anyone else in the office. (The secretary's skillset comprised being nasty to those on her s***list, changing the toner in the copier, and sending faxes.)

    It has since become clear that this is a common characteristic of MBA possessors, along with the idea that all management is the same and any MBA-holder can manage anything, using a fixed set of techniques.

    Politicians being extremely gullible types, they have fallen for this, hence delights like T5. <chuckle>

  67. Martin Usher

    Fingerprinting will help smooth the flow...

    >No doubt someone will suggest that fingerprinting everybody would have improved matters...

    Of course it would. It would slow down incoming passengers to a trickle which would give the baggage handling system a chance to get the stuff to the carousels before the passengers. You'd be cursing the immigration people (which you can't do out loud unless you want to end up in a cell somewhere) and wouldn't be any the wiser that the rest of the system was a shambles.

    I hear the place is owned by a Spanish concrete company....

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Two bags bo***cks

    I've run into this "only one bag in the cabin" thing in northern Italy when flying out of Trieste - and they enforce it, you won't be allowed into the plane with two items (handbags exempt if you're female).

    But, the Italians have at least got a sensible solution -

    i) Check in with two carry-on items, and take a numbered orange tag from the stack at the check-in counter (free, as in no charge).

    ii) Pocket boarding pass and wander off for a coffee or whatever.

    iii) Attach tag to one item, tear off the counterfoil and stick it in your pocket.

    iv) Eventually wander in the general direction of security and get seriously checked over (I've had camera lenses looked through, water bottles opened and contents sniffed etc., even in the days when you were allowed to take water on a plane)

    v) In due course drift in the general direction of plane, handing tagged item over to handler at door of plane along with everybody else's extra carry-on.

    vi) Enjoy flight (as much as possible, anyway)

    vii) At destination accept tagged item back from handler at door of plane - everyone happy - crucial/expensive toys not exposed to vagarities of checked baggage system (ie., not on way to Moscow), but only one carry-on per passenger in the cabin.

    This is a very well oiled system that everyone seems to know and use - if it works in Italy why can't it work everywhere else - it's free, but I'd even be happy to pay a nominal fee to use it.

    One little quirk - if you're flying Trieste to Munich, one item per passenger, but Munich to Trieste, no-one seems to care.


  69. Joe

    The straps?

    I can't believe that anyone running an airport could blame the straps on bags for getting caught in the system - for god's sake, bags have straps! How do you think we carry them? Get used to it, and design your systems to deal with it. Jeez.

  70. Simon

    Cynical reporting, as usual.

    Yup, it's just like being the first person to buy a new version of an OS.

    What really gets me is the cynical reporting that is going on on BBC news 24 at the moment. Reporters stalking round the terminal ready to jump on anyone who looks unhappy and stuff a microphone in their face with a question designed to promote an angry response.

    "How outraged are you at xxxxxxxxxxx?", "Do you think it's a disgrace that they have xxxxxxxxxx?", etc.

    Next the reporter runs to an official and tells them how awful the passengers all think the service is. If you listen to what the official is trying to say, it's that yes it's the first day of opening, but it's not as bad as the media is trying to make out.

    Tabloid, cynical, bad news media reporting.

    And before anyone has a go at me for not understanding what it feels like to have your luggage lost, yes it's happened to me enough times but you always get it back, it's not the end of the world.

  71. Anonymous Coward


    Passengers and bags regularly NOT flying together?

    Anyone else see a huge problem?

  72. Rob

    @ RW and Mr Cheese

    Thanks Chaps, now I finally know what an MBA consists of.

    Seriously, I was looking at Masters courses, reading up on the course descriptions and trying to decide which one to do. Every single course explained what you'd study, what you'd learn etc. Except the MBAs. Without exception, every MBA summary I read was just a load of apparently random buzz words or phrases strung together in a meaningless fashion.

    I concluded that the B stood for Bullshit and opted for an MSc.

  73. Peter

    What's the name of Dilbert's company again?

    I bet they could turn this into a software/hardware/management/outsourcing/engineering/marketing/MBA triumph.


  74. Allan Dyer
    Thumb Up

    @ Jeroen Braamhaar @AC:: RE: I remember....

    Almost all correct. The airport at Hong Kong is Chek Lap Kok, Lantau is the large island it sits next to. But the official name is (rather boringly) the Hong Kong International Airport.

    Since the problems during the opening it has worked pretty well, which can't be said for the new cable car from near the airport up to the big Buddha on top of Lantau.

  75. Fluffykins Silver badge

    @Fingerprinting will help smooth the flow...

    AHA! So we have the answer!


  76. michael

    dilbert's company

    I do not know what they are now but they where pathway electronics then they murged with e-tech managment and so they where

    path-e-tech managment

    but it got sold and there is no word on what the new company is called

    yer my coat as long is it got on the same plane as me

  77. TeeCee Gold badge


    That swan analogy. Never seen it used before and I think I just wet myself.

    Thank you for making my week.

  78. John Macintyre

    chief exec

    yet nobody's mentioned the chief exec, willie walsh. With a name like that....

  79. Slaine
    Paris Hilton

    safer on the ground

    "EVERYONE'S baggage had been left behind at Heathrow"; "a minibus stuck at T5, had to let the air out to remove it"; "£4,300,000,000"... if you wrote a story like that no-one would believe it. Come to think of it, I don't bloody believe it. Mind you, BA must be saving a packet in fuel charges and landing fees.

    BSc - Bull Shit Coming

    MSc - More Shit Coming

    PhD - Piled Higher and Deeper (although you can at least go around saying "you can tell me, I'm a doctor")

    MBA - Massive Ballsup Always

    and here's a picture of Paris, for all the people who arn't going to France this weekend.

  80. Ryan Greenaway

    God help me

    I'm off to the US in April, on the way back flying via Denver, into Heathrow. This doesn't bode well!!!

    The red zone is for loading and unloading, there is no stopping in the red zone.

    No the white zone is for loading and unloading, there's no stopping in the white zone.

    Don't start with your white zone sh1t again

    Is this because you want me to get an abortion....?

  81. ton


    euh guys we (the dutch) sold you that baggage system

    yep it's revenge for something you did to us

    actually what did you do to us

  82. John Hoar

    Same in Madrid

    Pretty much the same thing happened at the new terminal here in Madrid when in opened not too long ago - queues, baggage lost, flights missed.

    Was pretty embarrasing, since the spanish winter olympics team flew out of the terminal not long after it opened and plenty of equipment got lost in the baggage handling system; cue scenes of skiers without skis etc etc.

  83. Anonymous Coward

    It's the managers, not the engineers

    For everyone who criticized the engineers involved in T5, I'd like to suggest that their work was probably well done. It's British managers who seem unable to accomplish the simplest task without creating some preposterous crisis. I don't know why, but we seem to have the world's largest proportion of self-important idiots who are firmly persuaded they are management geniuses. They get jobs and promotions, because their bosses are so incompetent they assess people based on those people's own opinions of themselves - which, of course, are always favourable. Meanwhile, anyone reasonably modest and objective gets stuck in the slow lane, labelled unsuitable for promotion. (After all, someone has to do all the work...) What we have is a sort of meritocracy in reverse.

  84. andy

    Security - how to guide to avoiding

    If you want to take food or water onto a plane, just take a small child - we took open water bottles and baby food on board and no-one cared.

    So if someone has managed to build the Hollywood binary bomb then all they need to so is be willing to sacrifice their sprog.

    or maybe security know it is all a joke ?

  85. Anonymous Coward

    I knew this would happen

    Last year I went on a Java course. Also attending were a couple of people - can't remember now if they were from BAA or a contractor - who were working on the T5 baggage-handling software. They said that it had been written in VB, but were worried it wouldn't be able to cope with the anticpated volumes so they'd been sent on a Java course to eb able to evaluate whether to switch to Java. This was in NOVEMBER.

  86. Steve Wehrle


    I always liked MBA = Mediocre But Arrogant

  87. Anonymous Coward

    Last Night On Radio Five...

    Simon Calder from The Independent was rather scathing and suggested heads should roll. One or two slightly misguided types were trying to blame "the system" and not realising that someone was responsible for testing it and someone was responsible for checking the testing regime and signing it off, whatever "it" is.

    In Japan I dare say there would have been people getting swords out and committing seppuku had such a failure happened over there. In olden days here people would have resigned already. Those were the responses of people with honour.

    It is a failure of management and processes. Hard questions must be asked of those responsible for the project management. Then heads must roll. Whether it's BA or BAA who are responsible.

    Simon Calder said that the front line staff "have been put through hell, they have been made to look ridiculous." Again, a failure of management. Paying customers starved of information get pissed off. It's not rocket science.

    The worrying thing is that, according to Calder, "They've only finished half the operation, the rest happens on April 30th when everything from Terminal 4 moves across."

    I speak as someone who has planned and orchestrated two full corporate relocations with zero downtime. No MBA here, thank you very much.

    MBA - Member of the Bullshitters' Association

    MBA - Major Bloody Arsehole

    We need a seppuku icon like on the J-list t-shirt at

    Coat icon because people responsible for this farce should be given the Bill Lawry treatment - "P*ss off! You're Out!)

  88. Mr Chris

    @Tom Welsh

    "It's managers who seem unable to accomplish the simplest task without creating some preposterous crisis."


    It's not just our managers that are usless, you know. That's a world-wide phenomenon.

  89. Anonymous Coward

    Terminator Five - sorry, Terminal Five Security

    Airport Security ? What security ? They scan you and search you and check you, they remove all items such as nail files, knives, creams, prescribed ointment, factory-sealed botles of cod-liver oil capsules, aftershave and water...and then having passed security you go into the preboarding shopping mall where you can buy all of the above and carry it onto the plane with no further checks.

    One thing about the Heathrow T5 and British Airways fiasco - it makes Stansted and Ryanair look highly professional. Gulp. I can't believe I wrote that.

  90. Anonymous Coward

    I know why!

    @ Tom Walsh...

    "I don't know why, but we seem to have the world's largest proportion of self-important idiots who are firmly persuaded they are management geniuses."

    Dates back to a certain Mrs T who was enamoured of all things American, and keen to import their ways as fast as she could.

    Management bollocks was top of the list.

  91. This post has been deleted by its author

  92. W

    I sneer... another failure by British management. It's all over the BBC news, but it's just not news.

    Ryanair and it's plebby customers (the likes of me) wouldn't get this much coverage over a few lost Samsonites.

  93. fronty

    Monty Python predicted this years ago!

    Wasn't there a Monty Python sketch about this... "I'm so worried about the baggage retrieval system at Heathrow" or something? Pretty sure it's on "The Final Rip-off" but can't check right now.

  94. Mike Flugennock

    Euphemism prize

    "Teething problems"?

    "Staff familiarity"?

    "Provisioning problems"?

    And here, I thought our own Pentagon and K Street were the champs at intelligence-insulting euphemisms and doubletalk...turns out YOU, England, take the, the, the piss...or whatever it is you call it over there.

    Now, what is it you say..."I'll get me... uhhh..."

  95. The Badger

    @Two bags bo***cks

    "At destination accept tagged item back from handler at door of plane"

    This kind of thing has been done by BA for baggage on smaller aircraft. They call it "Valet Service", which sounds very Jeeves and Wooster, but it just means that the hand luggage is too big for the cabin and gets loaded into the hold. One hopes that the "valet", in retrieving the bags presumably from a special location in the hold, doesn't employ the usual kind of rugby antics visible from the plane when normal hold baggage gets loaded/offloaded.

  96. Anonymous Coward


    What we did was allow a bunch of MBA's engage in ridiculous contracts with shoddy cowboy contractors and then used a Dutch company for a potential scapegoat.


  97. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    MBA @I know why! By Thad

    I am now content to murmur. In the background, the cheesy smile, the canny me, no intéresse pas. Now I know the reason. There is a Maggie flying class.

    Now I see the steely icon, blue handbag and wavy hair. it's a classic altercation. And Maggie's fingerprints are there.

    Margaret's Bag Andlers. Strewf!

    We need a T5 V sign AND a blue handbag.

    Will that coat fit me?


  98. Slaine
    Dead Vulture

    just missing the rotating knives

    Potential passenger brings luggage to airport; passenger and luggage arrive safely at "reception desk"; passenger and luggage are separated, luggage covers 18 miles on conveyor belt system whilst passenger sits around on designer "shapes", avoiding magnetised walls and waiting for their flight to be cancelled so that they can spend their holiday money at home on an exorbitant hotel room nearby... Mmmm looks like the makings of an economic recovery.

    Mine's the one nesting in a 747 engine.

  99. Slaine


    All we need now is a big picture of a hollowed out sheep and John Cleese handing the famous moustache back to "mon amis, le poof celebre"... mais, ou sant les passangers?

  100. Slaine

    I can't help it

    ...any complaint regarding the humerous quality of this album should be addressed to, British Airways, Ingrams Drive, Reddich.

    Although it will probably arrive in Jam Smuts Drive, Pretoria. Grabs coat, thinks about it for a while and then sits down again... guess my flight ain't leaving soon.

  101. b166er


    Beer are on you then TeeCee ;~)

    All the managers I encountered on that project were blaggers.

    I has to be said though, in defense of the head honcho, whose name I can't remember and can't be bothered to look up, Safety on that site was second to none, and real progress.

  102. Martin

    Baggage is complex - to say the least...

    and when it all goes wrong its normally one of the following or a combination which causes gridlock and one very unhappy baggage system -

    The software engineers aren't up to the job, the complexities are not fully understood, many different technologies are used and all need to interface together without any problems, the system is very complex and the staff are not fully trained by fully trained I mean not only shown how to operate the system but also how to clear problems. Add to all that the security screening, bag tracking, hardware faults, poorly labeled baggage (bags with more than a single barcode), late bags, early bags, problem bags, transfer bags, airline bag messaging - it all turns into a very big mess very quickly if just one member of staff operates the system incorrectly, gridlock (where the system stops because bags are not being cleared fast enough to the baggage piers and into ULDs) can happen very quickly.

    You have to know what you are doing - its not anywhere as simple as moving bags from one place to another.

  103. Ishkandar

    @Jeroen Braamhaar

    The new HK airport is called CLK (Chek Lap Kok) and the opening weeks were a total nightmare !! Their radar/antenna farm failed and the planes had to be spotted with "high tech" binoculars from the tower. The FDDS (Flight Destination Display System) was supposed to receive updates from the main IBM computer at the rate of one per second and it was getting updates at the rate of one per hour. They "solved" that problem by using a large whiteboard with one ground crew "slave" furiously scribbling on it while another was on the walkie-talkie getting updates from the tower (where the "spotters" were).

    They had THREE separate luggage handling systems run by three different companies with three different IT systems designed by different IT companies; all totally incompatible with each other !! Luckily, few of the luggage were "lost" !! The MTR (underground) was not completed until four weeks AFTER it opened.

    The air cargo system failed completely and the cargo was stacked on the apron for days in the hot sun because no one knew where anything went. Tons of fish and other seafood rotten in the open air and the place stank for weeks !! In the end, they switched the air cargo back to Kai Tak (old airport) for several months until the air cargo system in CLK was sorted out.

    And all this because the airport HAD to be opened on 1st July 1997 (the Handover Day) - a political decision that caused great loss of face to the management and government !! Now, more than ten years later, they are still trying to live it down !!

    Good luck, BAA. I get the strange feeling that you are going to need it in the coming days/weeks/months/years !!

  104. Ishkandar

    @Allan Dyer

    That's because someone had the brilliant idea of carting everything to the top of the hill using some asses (the drivers) and some donkeys !! It was/is an extremely high tech project !!

  105. Ishkandar

    @Tom Welsh

    No sir, it's called the Peter Principle - people are promoted to their level of incompetence. The better ones leave for pastures greener with better promotion prospects. Sooner or later the place is full of the incompetents left behind.

This topic is closed for new posts.