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By now, you may have heard that the hoopla over the opening of the gleaming new Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow Airport has backfired. As many as 20,000 suitcases backed up on its computerized baggage-handling system.
British Airways had to cancel hundreds of flights, and, by some estimates, stood to lose more than $50 million, not to mention the goodwill of the traveling public. And that doesn't take into account the trials of Terri Patsalides, who wasn't even a passenger. However, as a representative of an auction house, she was at the terminal to meet a client arriving from Hong Kong. Alas, her party was one of those whose luggage was caught in the troubled system. With no way of knowing how long the wait would be, she decided to relax with a cappuccino from Giraffe Juice, a refreshment bar. When there still was no sign of the client, she ordered another, then a third, and a fourth. At that point, she also asked for the check ... and Terminal 5's image took another hit.
As Giraffe Juice calculated it, she'd run up a tab of $715,386.43. "I told the waitress that although they were very nice, I thought [$178,847 a cup] was a bit over the top," she said. Of course, the problem turned out to be one more computer glitch, and Terri finally paid only $24. "Everyone had a laugh," a Giraffe Juice employee said. If only the baggage system were so easily fixed.