The 178 passengers and 11 crew members received a friendly welcome to London from staff in Beefeater costumes as they passed through the terminal.

It will be a few months before any airlines other than United get to dock at T2.

Heathrow will be operating the terminal at 10% capacity today, and will slowly increase its activity over the coming months until it is finally servicing a total of 330 flights to 50 destinations by 26 airlines.

BBC London’s transport correspondent Tom Edwards says that Heathrow is playing it safe and has gone for ‘a very very soft launch’ after the opening of T5 in March 2008 proved to be ‘an absolute debacle, with lost luggage and delays’.

According to Edwards, the airport wants permission to open a third runway and another new terminal – and the success of T2 would help deliver that.

“T2 is the culmination of an £11bn investment programme that has transformed Heathrow for passengers,” Heathrow development director John Holland-Kaye said.

“Our real measure of success is whether T2 comes to be rated by passengers as one of the world’s best airport terminals for years to come.”

Image credit: Getty