Expanding in all the wrong directions

They're finally opening the new terminal at Heathrow, aka The Worst Airport in the Entire World. The construction has been long and arduous, and last time I was in London, prevented me from taking the Tube to the airport. I sincerely hope I don't ever lay eyes on the new terminal, as my life's ambition is to never again endure Heathrow's interminable lines and "best in class" utterly ridiculous security policies. One of the grimmest experiences known to mankind is piling blearily off a long-haul flight, looking for your gate change, and seeing the dread words found only at Heathrow . . . Estimated Walking Time: 40 minutes. This is, mind you, within one terminal.

Perhaps the new terminal will improve things. One suspects, however, that it will just encourage airlines to attempt to crowd even more scheduled flights onto Heathrow's two lonely runways. If you think the delays at JFK are bad . . . well, you haven't lived until you've spent a few hundred hours circling over Heathrow, waiting for the runways to clear. One expects, too, that adding a new terminal will also exacerbate the airport's famous baggage-handling problems--their system, if it can be called that, is like a scalpel designed to separate passengers from their possessions as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Not content with that achievement, the British then decided that passengers could carry only one bag--including a purse, ladies--a policy rigorously enforced by the security screeners. They now have many more bags to mangle and mislay. In what way does this enhance security? Not at all, of course; it just makes things more convenient for the airlines, and very modestly increases the speed at which the screeners can pass people through. (Very modestly--the unpacking of sundry items, and undressing, are what consumes most of the time.) To be sure, it is nice that one now only has to spend an hour and a half in the security line, but couldn't they have just considered hiring more screeners?

Heathrow is trumpeting this as a bold move to capture even more US-to-Europe business. I have no doubt that they will capture those passengers--two years from now, you will no doubt be able to find them still wandering around Terminal 4, searching for the exit.