Less than halfway through this post, if you read that far, you'll realise that it isn't yet another sarcastic diatribe against the Heathrow experience. Quite the opposite, in fact. I downright like the place. I fly out of LHR T5 three times a year and haven't yet had a bad one. The glass-doored lifts from the Heathrow Express railway concourse to the departure lounge are your first sign of being in a hi-tec building. The massive steel-work and the vast open areas they support are just plain impressive by any standards.
Check-in couldn't be quicker, with plenty of self-service 'daleks' standing by to print your boarding pass. The only delay is the ensuing security check, but even that passes fairly quickly thanks to pretty adequate parallel processing.
Then you have the departure lounge itself, certainly the quietest I've experienced, thanks to the decision to restrict tannoy announcements to emergencies only. It's amazing how much that single innovation lifts the whole ambiance well above the stress threshold. I always make a point of being early. Playing brinkmanship with aeroplanes has always seemed a mug's game to me. So, once through security, more often that not I'll have a good two hours to enjoy the terminal. What's to enjoy? As a shopping precinct, T5 is well above average. Spacious, well lit, good variety, I've never had any problem finding suitable last minute purchases (which I should have bought over the previous week or two at home, of course).
Shopping over, it always seems to be breakfast time, and breakfast clearly has to be a very non-Qatari bacon and tomato sandwich and a large glass of wine (or two) in Huxley's. Wine, because loading up on beer before a long haul flight has obvious drawbacks. Alcoholic breakfasts are not my habit, by the way, but somehow feel perfectly natural before flying.
To further enhance the mood, the walk from Huxley's to the gate takes in two upmarket liquor stores where they habitually offer small tasters to tempt buyers. This time it was JW Black Label (pretty standard) and a MacCallan's 12 year-old. Very pleasant, though I actually prefer their cheaper 10.
And that's Heathrow T5. (But I hate T2, T4, Charles de Gaule, Schipol . . .)