Heathrow invites you to kiss under the world’s largest mistletoe

Remember that scene from the movie “Love Actually” that takes place in Heathrow Airport? The one where everyone is arriving and being greeted with big hugs and happy kisses from their loved ones? That may be what Heathrow really looks like now that the airport has hung the world’s largest mistletoe.

The 10X8 structure, which weighs 43kg, will hang in Terminal 5 through December (and according to the Heathrow press release), other giant mistletoe will be hung in Terminals 1, 3, and 4.

Heathrow officials expect nearly 3 million people to arrive at Heathrow in the coming month, with close to 500,000 of them coming between December 19th and December 24th alone. The airport is hoping that 2 million kisses will take place beneath the giant mistletoe this month.

British Airways flight greeted by hazmat team after 6 passengers faint

Here is a sight you don’t want to be greeted by when you land at your destination – upon landing at London Heathrow, an ambulance hazmat team boarded the aircraft to check on the condition of six passengers who had fainted during the flight.

It probably isn’t too uncommon for one passenger to faint after the stress of a long haul flight, but six of them on a single plane usually warrants some kind of emergency response.

Thankfully, the passengers turned out to be fine, and emergency personnel allowed them to continue their journeys.

In this H1N1 panicked environment, it does make sense to be careful of anything out of the ordinary, even though in this case, it was probably one big coincidence.

Survey ranks Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle and Los Angeles worst airports in the world

A Priority Pass survey of frequent business travelers has revealed what many of us knew all along – London Heathrow is the worst airport in the world. Heathrow is followed by Charles de Gaulle and Los Angeles.

These three airports tend to pop up on “worst airport” surveys most of the time, and anyone who frequents any of them will understand why. Heathrow is improving slowly, and the new Terminal Five is making travel through the UK airport a slightly better experience, but the other terminals are still quite a disgrace.

Charles de Gaulle is another dump of an airport. Even though it has invested heavily in some new terminals, there are still plenty of parts of this facility that need to be flattened and built from the ground up.

Los Angeles airport just signed off on a multi-year, multi-billion Dollar renovation plan, which should be completed by 2013. Of course, that still means 4 more years of being in the top three of worst airports in the world.

Singapore Changi, Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok and Amsterdam Schiphol are voted best in the world, and anyone who has spent any time at these airports will understand why. These are the kind of airports where it is actually a treat to be stranded for a couple of hours, unlike places like Heathrow where your only urge is to get the hell out of the place as quickly as possible.

What do you think? Do these airports deserve to be crowned “worst in the world”, or do you know of an airport that is even worse? Leave you comments below.


Heathrow hires author to write about Heathrow

Hate it? Embrace it! Heathrow Airport has decided to immortalize the plights of their passengers – rather than bury or ignore them. The airport has tapped best-selling author Alain de Botton – whose titles include The Consolations of Philosophy and How Proust Can Change Your Life – to spend a week in Terminal 5 and reveal what really happens in this environment.

He kicked off this project on Tuesday. Sometimes, he crashes behind a desk in the departures area, talking to passengers and just watching the action. But, he’s been given full access to Terminal 5 and the freedom to write whatever he wants (with the upside that someone will probably read it, unlike our endless frustrated tweets). De Botton’s plan is to show what goes on in a terminal, though he claims he’ll write about whatever he feels like.

Themes already coming to mind, apparently, are technology, globalization and consumerism, which suggests that this high-brow author is unlikely to dive into the muck now. I’m sure whatever he devises will be insightful … but how much does that matter when you’ve been stuck in a sweaty cabin for two hours and still haven’t pulled back from the gate?

Heathrow unveils driverless personal transport pods

Buses and shuttles make up a large portion of an airport’s traffic. People need to be shuttled back and forth from parking lots, garages, terminals and rental car lots, and all those vehicles mean congestion and pollution. Heathrow Airport is working on a system that will address both of those issues. The new Personal Transport Pods, or PRTs will run on dedicated tracks and use 50% less energy than the buses they will replace.

Up to four passengers (and their luggage) at a time will enter the futuristic-looking pods and program their destination into a touch-screen. Then the pod does the work, zipping off to the destination at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. The pods are low-energy, battery powered and produce no emissions.

Right now the pods are in the operational testing stage and will only journey from Terminal 5 to the car park, a trip that will take around 5 minutes. According to airport officials, once the system is fully operational, passengers will board at one of three stations and ride in one of 21 total pods. As long as the £25 million project runs smoothly and more funding can be secured, the airport plans expand the service to other terminals.