In June, London's Heathrow Airport is due to get a new terminal—and it looks pretty swank. We caught up today with Simon Baugh and Julia Gillam from the Airport to talk about the new terminal, the perks available throughout the airport and the expansion of VIP services.
Terminal 2 has been dubbed The Queen's Terminal, and when the £2.5 billion project is complete, it will be home to 22 Star Alliance airlines as well as several other carriers. (Partner airlines will be housed close to one another to make transfers easier and reduce layover times, Baugh said.) Spanish architect Luis Vidal used plenty of glass in the walls and roof to let in lots of light and minimize the claustrophobic feeling one can regularly get in airports. Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal will have a restaurant in the terminal--reportedly the first airport restaurant in the world to have a wood-fired pizza oven.
But the real fun is in the new services. The airport has some top-notch stores across its terminals (think Harrods, Ferragamo, Alexander McQueen and Michael Kors), and as of a few months ago offers a personal shopping service for passengers. Before or upon arrival at the airport, a consultant can talk with passengers and gather items from all the different stores. (Left your good shirts back in New York? New ones can be waiting when you step off the plane.) Bonus: Those with more than three hours before their flight can go with their shopper to different terminals to see what other stores have to offer.
And then there are the quick beauty and spa treatments, which let passengers sample massages, facials and consultations from several boutiques throughout the airport. (We're intrigued by the 20-minute Yves Saint Laurent makeover, and the 15-minute Shiseido Pre-flight Skin Booster.) All of these treatments are free.
But the coolest buzz is the expansion of the former Heathrow by Invitation service into Heathrow VIP. The kind of discreet reception that was once available only to visiting heads of state was made available to VIPs looking to skip the lines at customs a few years ago, and has been quite successful. (The service includes a private suite where passengers can unwind while their paperwork is handled, a private security line prior to boarding and BMW service to and from the plane on the tarmac.) Baugh said it became so popular that more private suites are being added and plans are in the works to build a dedicated kitchen for bespoke private dining. While the lounges were originally meant for dignitaries to handle their immigration paperwork, Baugh said that it has become especially popular for flights coming in from Los Angeles. (Expect plenty of Hollywood celebs going and coming from the rooms.) In addition, the service now includes luggage delivery straight to guests' hotels. We say it's the best way to kick off a London vacation.