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British Airways trials ‘queueless’ check-in at the T5 Arrivals Lounge

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Back in May, British Airways announced that it was going to launch a 3-month trial of ‘queueless check-in’, which would allow you to pre-book a check-in slot before you arrived at the airport.

This is now active, for those whose flights are taking part in the trial, using existing check-in desks in Zone E in Terminal 5.

This week British Airways has also trialled something different – using the Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge for pre-booked check-in for premium passengers. One of our readers gave it a try and reported back.

(EDIT: This article was updated during Friday with additional information supplied by BA.)

British Airways queueless checkin qmatic

The Arrivals Lounge check-in service was only being offered on a handful of flights this week.

Participants received an email from British Airways asking if they wished to participate and giving this online form to complete:

british airways queueless checkin

You could book a time slot to arrive at the Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 5.

If you have never been in the Arrivals Lounge, it is on the mezzanine level above the Arrivals Hall. This means that you need to be dropped off at Arrivals if arriving by taxi. If you are dropped at Departures then you need to double back on yourself which partly defeats the object.

On arrival at the lounge our readers was invited to weigh his checked luggage (apologies for the blurred image):

british airways queueless checkin

Once the weight was been recorded he proceeded into the Arrivals Lounge for a drink:

british airways queueless checkin

…. whilst someone checked paperwork and printed baggage tags and boarding passes:

british airways queueless checkin

Once the paperwork was complete, he wheeled his luggage back to the exit where the baggage handlers took it from him. He headed off to the Departures Level for security.

Is BA’s queueless check-in worthwhile?

Our reporter said:

“All in all it was a novel experience but, at 5am, I  could see no real advantage over checking in upstairs at a Club World / Club Europe check in desk. At busier periods it could possibly save time especially as you have a guaranteed slot.

Another drawback is that no one takes your luggage from you until the end of the process. You have to move your luggage over to the scales to be weighed, then on into the lounge and then over to the baggage handlers at the exit, all without any help. This was not an issue for us but for the infirm or those with a lot of luggage it could be problematic. All in all this is a good concept but it might still need some minor refinements.”

Overall, it seems like something that is worth trialling if you are invited – just make sure that you head to the right level in Terminal 5 or you may end up taking more time than using the standard check-in process. It isn’t clear how this trial will develop for BA, given that the Arrivals Lounge should be back in service for its original purpose once the volume of flights from the US increases.

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Comments (33)

  • Pete M says:

    Crazy idea… but rather than coming up with all these pointless “innovations”, how about BA just staff the regular desks properly?! T5 was actually generally well thought through, why on earth are they reinventing the wheel?

    • FFoxSake says:

      Or even just put some more resource into answering the phone lines… a truly awful experience currently for so many customers.

    • Sarah says:

      Or even operate the Arrivals Lounge as an actual arrivals lounge

    • Alex Sm says:

      I remember how a member of staff commented on introduction of self check-in machines: “And you still need a person for each of those to mend them” 🙂

    • Sam says:

      Spot on.

  • Andrew says:

    Why not have some dedicated desks for this in the departures area rather than in the arrivals lounge?? Very bizarre.

    • Alex Sm says:

      This is what Rob sarcastically described as “ you need to double back on yourself which partly defeats the object”. Classic BA – “to fly, to serve”…

  • Dubious says:

    I thought Heathrow had introduced a fee to drop-off passengers at departures by car and in so doing you risk a fine if you drop-off passengers at the arrival level?

    Is this not the case at T5?

    RE: “Arrivals Lounge, it is on the mezzanine level above the Arrivals Hall. This means that you need to be dropped off at Arrivals if arriving by taxi.”

    • Andrew says:

      Edinburgh certainly fines people who pick up or drop-off in the wrong zone.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      There are threatening signs at T3 for sure – and patrolling people who look to be aiming to dissuade anyone from testing it…

  • AJA says:

    This might work OK if arriving by train / underground. Then you don’t have to haul your luggage all the way to the top of T5. But what’s the point when you have the airportr check in service? I agree with others that it would be better just to have a dedicated area in the check in area. I suppose it’s trying to be “premium” using the arrivals lounge. Then again it’s yet another option to check in.

    • Nick says:

      @AJA the lifts from platform level on LU/HEx are programmed to go straight to the top floor (departures), so even then it’s more efficient to go the ‘normal’ way.

      • AJA says:

        Well bang goes my theory then. 😀 Another solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  • Chris L says:

    It’s difficult to be certain of the time you’re going to arrive at LHR. You’re always somewhat at the mercy of train/tube timings or traffic. I think I would be reluctant to commit to a specific time slot.

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    This all seems a bit like airportr except less convenient… And that’s from someone who has tried twice to use them and failed!

  • Waribai says:

    The biggest issue was actually almost getting trapped in the lift on the way up to the lounge. Also, after landing our “priority” bags seemed to take even more of an age to come out and I started to curse myself for letting my curiosity for the trial get the better of me.

    To be fair to BA, we actually arrived 15 minutes earlier than our 5:30 check-in time slot. It wasn’t an issue though. Also, as is often the case the staff were very pleasant….

    • John says:

      I assume the arrivals lounge will reopen for its normal use at some point, so if this service continues it would probably be moved to departures.

      The arrivals lounge is hard to find if you don’t know where it is. But can’t you take the lift down from departures level? (Not been to T5 for 8 months and the arrivals lounge for 3 years…)

      I don’t understand the point about the “infirm”. If you can’t carry your luggage around the arrivals lounge, how are you going to get it from the tube / taxi / bus to the normal check-in area? Does LHR offer a kerbside assistance service?

      • L Allen says:

        There is assistance available that you can book / request right from your arrival at the airport. So if being dropped off by taxi, you could reasonably expect the taxi driver to get your luggage out of the boot and then for Wilson James (who currently hold the contract) to take over and assist

        • Waribai says:

          Exactly, also, with regular check in, it all operates at the same level. With this you have to go down 2 levels then head back up two levels getting your luggage in and out of lifts

  • WaynedP says:

    Perhaps I’m unduly judgemental, but when a glaring spelling error like “chose” is allowed to slip through to the public interface (step 3 of the online form), then I become sceptical about the thoroughness of the entire venture.

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