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Random thoughts: T5 Fast Track, Zipcar by the mile, why I’m moving to Paris for 5 days

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Here are a few random observations from the last couple of weeks which you might find useful.

Try the new Fast Track security channel at Heathrow Terminal 5

At some point in the last year, a new – totally separate – Fast Track security channel opened at the north end of Terminal 5.  See the photo below.  This is for British Airways and oneworld status card holders and Club and First passengers.

Since we normally travel with checked bags, we usually get dropped at the south end of Terminal 5 near the business class bag drop desks and use South security.  However, I’ve done two hand baggage flights over the last week and used the tube to Heathrow both times.  This makes the new Fast Track lane exceptionally convenient as it is directly opposite the T5 tube entrance.

Even better, you come out directly by the entrance to the Galleries North lounge.  It is perfectly feasible to get from the tube lift to the lounge in under 5 minutes at a quiet time.

Fast1

The new Zipcar ‘pay by the mile’ cars come recommended

I’ve written about Zipcar a few times on Head for Points.  We use it in London instead of running our own car and it works very well.  There are about 15 cars within 10 minutes walk of our house and the nearest is literally 30 seconds away.  Zipcar is currently offering a £30 driving credit for new members who join before 30th September – see here.

One downside of Zipcar is that the ‘pay by the hour, everything included’ model gets expensive if you are visiting somewhere for the day.  They have now introduced cars with a ‘pay by the mile’ hybrid model.

On Sunday we went to Hobbledown.  If you have kids under 10 and live in south or west London or Surrey then you really should go to Hobbledown, it is the classiest place of its type that we know.

The last time we went on a weekend we had a Zipcar for 9 hours at £9.50, total cost £85.50.  Yesterday we booked one of the new ‘£4 per hour plus 29p per mile’ cars.  I haven’t had the bill yet but the total cost should be around £47 which is a substantial improvement.  The downside is that the ‘pay by the mile’ cars carry very in-your-face green Zipcar branding ….

Zipcar £30 sign-up bonus

Why am I off to Paris for five days?

My wife is about to head off to Germany with my son for five days – my daughter is already there.  I usually use this annual event to do a long-haul trip.

I started off looking at Tokyo and seeing if I could make the flight times stack up.  Other ideas came and went.  However, when I did my Eurostar review trip to Paris in May, I realised something – I am getting fed up doing short trips.

Every trip I do on my own these days involves only one or two nights in a hotel because I don’t like to leave the family for longer than necessary.  However, spending just two nights in New York or the Middle East – as I have done four times in the last two years – or one night in a European city, which I have done countless times recently, isn’t satisfying me any longer.

When I was in New York, I had my usual list of places that I like to revisit.  Once I’d done those, my time was up.  When I was in Paris in May, I did a couple of museums and that, literally, was all I had time to do.  It is impossible to get away from ‘greatest hits’ sightseeing on short trips.

I dumped the idea of Tokyo and settled on Paris.  By spending five days there, I will be able to get back to sort of travelling I did when I was young, seeking out the second and third tier experiences I rarely see these days.  Without the family around I can work at night and have the days to myself.  The urge to jump on another long haul flight was strong but hopefully this will be more fulfilling.

Comments (50)

  • Adam M says:

    They have a fast track lane at the south end also. It’s smaller but I used it just yesterday on a flight to Manchester from terminal 5. Not sure if it’s new, since I to had previously only used the northern end of t5 before.

    • Mark says:

      We tried to go through there on Friday. Was redirected to the normal security lanes as they were quicker!

      • Robert says:

        I heard about this fast track channel last week and used it on sunday for the first time (from the tube via the check-in kiosk) on my way back to Amsterdam: was in the North lounge within 7 or 8 minutes 🙂

  • James A says:

    Don’t worry you can always jump on an ex CDG deal once you get there 😉

  • Frenske says:

    Thanks for Hobbledown tip. We just live 10 minutes away, but never heard of it.

  • harry says:

    Some recent reports of BA check in chaos @ LHR & people missing their flights – including an annoyed Philip Schofield the other day! BA systems seem rubbish at the moment. Easy to end up on an overbooked flight.

    You can (nearly) guarantee your seat by doing online check-in T-24 hrs. You don’t need to print your BPs.

    Indeed – don’t print your BPs if you want a free exit seat – self serve machines @ terminal method

    • Ian says:

      There are no exit rows in Business or First 😉

      • Richmond says:

        There are on A321 with big CE cabin 🙂

      • Scallder says:

        Upstairs in Club on a 747 has exit row seats which mean you’re not climbing over someone else’s legs!

    • Alan says:

      It’s their new IT system called FLY and has been appalling according to friends that have recently passed through – massive delays all over the shop. Glad I’m avoiding it at present!

      • harry says:

        yep I’m a bit worried for Thursday, we’re going to get there way early provided the traffic plays ball

    • Umba says:

      I know you can select exit row seats for a cost at T-14 days but if there are any remaining at T-24 hours are you able to select them for free? Many thanks.

  • Tim says:

    Can anyone use the fast track lane? I thought it was for those with elite status etc.

  • CV3V says:

    Sort of related, but what is people preferred route when transiting through T5 (off an international and onto domestic). I have always used the transit route, although a few times now the queue has been 40 mins long. A few people in the queue said they normally go landside, then back in, and thought it quicker.

    • Alan says:

      Int to dom varies depending on UK Border queues (you’re stuck reclearing security regardless). They used to have a fast track lane for this but BA stopped paying for it (there’s still fast track for int to int connections). Unfortunately they lump everyone together and usually have only one UKBA agent working – last time I spent 30 min queuing as there were 4 non-EEA passport holders at the front of the queue, then 3 EEA passport holders (much quicker). eGates would have been much quicker than this, however I’ve been through at other times when there were just a couple of EEA passport holders ahead of me and I was through much quicker than the eGates!

  • James says:

    I used to avoid the old T5 north fast track because the in-transit fast track mergers with incoming passengers at the north security and so the T5 south fast track is normally quicker (accepting the fact I just said I avoid the north entrance so how would I know!). A dedicated north entrance for incoming passengers is welcome news.

  • pauldb says:

    I get what you’re saying about longhaul/shorthaul: with a young family we’ve reduced our long trips and are really enjoying filling gaps where we haven’t been in Europe. But that said, have you really exhausted BA’s European network. It’s a personal choice but I’d always prefer to find somewhere new: pretty much everywhere has some top tier attractions and enough to fill a few days, plus at this time of year better beaches/pools/etc.

    • Rob says:

      No, not exhausted it – but I want to go somewhere I know. Going somewhere new means I am back to feeling obliged to hit ‘tier one’ attractions! If all I do in Paris for a day is go out for a long lunch at a decent bistro then I will consider it a day well spent.

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