He picks up the keys to the terminal this week, and is ready to show it off before the games that begin on July 27 and end Aug. 12. He's confident that Olympians will be so happy while leaving — after having an as yet undefined but suitably British send-off — that they will go home pondering a switch from coffee to tea.
"This is not just a tent you put athletes through," he said. "It's the start and finish line. We are the first and last impression of the country."
Even with a special terminal, organizers face a monumental task on Aug. 13 — likely to be the busiest day ever in Heathrow history. How will they cope?
First of all, they'll start collecting bags at the Athletes' Village the day before. They'll install 31 check-in desks, and seven security lanes at the temporary athlete's terminal. And they'll make sure there are buses to take athletes to their terminal for departure, where they will be greeted with rounds of applause.
Every plane will get a wave off. Nice! Volunteers will help with that part. Cole promises other surprises — but says that if he describes them, they wouldn't be a surprise.
He says the Games Terminal will be decorated. At the moment though, it looks like a bit like a big white plastic box. It has some artificial turf and a few scanners but otherwise is just plain empty. The air conditioning isn't turned on yet — a point Cole brings up at least four times, apparently fearful it will be described as hot — but he swears it will be comfortable come the games.
Afterward, the employees regain the parking lot. It's Heathrow. It will be busy. But it will be back to normal.
And Aug. 13 will be but a dream.
"It's very unlikely we'll ever see a day like that again," Cole said.
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