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I’ve seen a press release from AB Ports which says that they and Carnival UK are jointly funding refurbishments and improvements to the QEII terminal in Southampton. The project has just started and will last until the spring, although the work will be done in two stages. It will cost about £5m. Work to be done includes a general refurbishment of the passenger and check-in areas, and a “state-of-the-art ship-to-shore walkway to replace the existing walkway which was initially installed for Cunard’s Queen Mary 2”. The press release says that this will allow a greater range of ships to use the terminal.

The news about the walkway sounds positive. However I’m less convinced about the refurbishments. It seems that one of the terminal’s main problems (from a passenger’s perspective) is not going to be addressed. The passenger lounge will continue to be between check-in and security, and not (as it is in both the Ocean Terminal and the recently-refurbished Mayflower Terminal) before check-in. This means that when passengers arrive at the QEII terminal they will continue to be faced with immediately having to enter a queue to check-in – at that point in the process, there’s nowhere else for them to go.

I know from experience that this can be a lengthy queue. I’m not sure how they would cope in the event of congestion such as I encountered at the Mayflower terminal in mid-September, when road congestion because of the Southampton Boat Show resulted in the terminal being full up, with many hundreds of people, during the mid-afternoon. At least in the case of the Mayflower terminal the lounge seating is before check-in; arriving passengers sat themselves down and the G4 staff managed the queue in the time-honoured way, e.g. “would passengers holding cards bearing the letter ‘[insert letter of your choice]’ please make their way to the check-in, please”. At the QEII terminal I believe there’s no opportunity to do this, you hand over your car and luggage and join the queue; and it seems that’s how it will continue to work. Furthermore, once you get to it the capacity of the lounge area will be just 700, which isn’t especially large.

So my view is that an opportunity has been missed to make a big improvement to the operation of this terminal.

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