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Your worst airport

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Messages: 1 - 29 of 29
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Principled (U8899543) on Wednesday, 28th April 2010

    For millions of visitors, a UK airport is their first taste of British hospitality/attitude.
    I don't claim to have knowledge of every airport in the UK (I've used just 7- all four London airports and three regional), but IMO the one that seems to stand out for consistent bad attitude is Gatwick.

    The lack of help by ground staff is inevitably put down to the catch-all "Health & Safety". Something I honestly have never heard of outside the UK. (I'd love to see their risk assessments!)

    So what are posters' experiences of airports home and abroad?


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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 28th April 2010

    I will be interested to see if anybody can make a claim for a "nice" airport!

    I'm sure that at some time in the distant past, airports were pleasant places to visit - probably when they were called aerodromes. Nowadays, we lose all our individuality in an airport and become just material for processing. This processing includes extracting as much money from our wallets as possible during the lengthy time that we are imprisoned there.

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by Annie-Lou est Charlie (U4502268) on Wednesday, 28th April 2010

    Singapore Changi airport is nice. The have a spa where you can get massages etc while you are waiting around, a shower and sleep place and free foot massaging machines!
    Los Angeles used to be dire (not sure if it still is) especially considering it is the major US Pacific hub. I once had to wait there for about 8 hours and there was nothing there but a noodle bar!

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by anna - HOST (U2219604) on Wednesday, 28th April 2010

    worst for me, Mineralnye Vody - toilets therein.

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by Principled (U8899543) on Wednesday, 28th April 2010

    I'm sure that at some time in the distant past, airports were pleasant places to visit - probably when they were called aerodromes. 

    You may have something there. Certainly, small airports appear much more friendly and relaxed. Whether that's because you get in and out quicker, I don't know. But there must be an optimum size for economy of scale and passenger experience.
    IMO regional airports like East Midlands and Birmingham seem to be about the right size.

    Unfortunately, most tourists arrive at and leave from one of the London airports. I just wonder how many are put off for life from returning because of their experiences.

    As I grow older I am more convinced that it will be the experience at airports which will finally make me decide whether or not to travel.

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  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by ravaged-not-ruined (U6684173) on Thursday, 29th April 2010

    Tha airport in Gibraltar is friendly,quaint and straddles the main road between Gibraltar and Spain which is closed off when a plane lands or takes off.

    Report message6

  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by Princess Anne (U7991547) on Sunday, 2nd May 2010

    I'm sure that at some time in the distant past, airports were pleasant places to visit - probably when they were called aerodromes.  

    Newcastle international used to be called Woolsington aerodrome, they did holiday flights in Dakotas, the customs was a hut with a long wooden table. The planes filled up via petrol pumps with the shell sign on top and a man cranking the handle.
    At Heraclyon a while back everyone waiting for their luggage to come through the belt was suddenly surprised to see it being thrown over a fifteen foot wall from air side into the arrivals lounge.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Monday, 3rd May 2010

    I think in those unsophisticated days, there was more of a thrill about flying than in modern times, when we are processed around the world like a sardine in an anonymous can.

    You could enjoy a fag and get a bit squiffy on champagne amid a general air of bonhomie rather than silent suffering.

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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by ravaged-not-ruined (U6684173) on Monday, 3rd May 2010

    Portly, I presume by fag you mean a cigarette?smiley - smiley

    Report message9

  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Monday, 3rd May 2010

    Yes ravaged I was not using the word in the American way.

    Actually when smoking was allowed, everybody was better-off because the airlines were obliged to keep changing the air in the cabin, which costs money.

    Now, it the air is recycled over and over so we sit in a rich bacterial soup.

    smiley - doh

    Report message10

  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by jonjel (U7302507) on Tuesday, 4th May 2010

    Luton is as bad as it gets. And the buggers actually charge you for a trolley, and you don't get the money back when you return it.

    Best used to be Liverpool in the days I was doing a lot of flying up to the far reaches of Scotland. You could park your car and just wander up to a Vernair small turbo-prop. Hostess service was a hot box slid along the gangway, and the most comfortable seat was the toilet which was a curtained off affair. With the curtains open you could stretch out almost prone. In my countless trips I never knew of anyone wanting to use it for the intended purpose.

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by Rosemary (U7231409) on Tuesday, 4th May 2010

    Try the international arrivals hall at Sheremyetyevo 2 in Moscow. The passport control hall is at the bottom of a steep staircase. On busy days (which, since the people of Russia began to go on holidays abroad, is all of them) the crowds pack the hall - low-ceilinged, dusty and airless - and go halfway up the stairs. It's impossible to queue properly, so the whole thing turns into a rugby scrum. There is one filthy toilet. The border guards make no attempt to speed up the clearance process, and sometimes I'm convinced they dawdle deliberately. The last time I flew in there I waited two and a half hours to clear passport control and at least three people passed out. Never again.

    Report message12

  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by Principled (U8899543) on Tuesday, 4th May 2010

    I'm beginning to think that Gatwick is not so bad after all!

    The World's "favourite low cost" airline has an announcement along the lines of the following as you struggle to take your seat:
    "You've made it to the airport, got through security, now sit back, relax and enjoy the flight"
    Perhaps they should add, "...because when you arrive you're going to be queuing at border control, queuing at luggage reclaim and you've got it all to do again on your return!

    Report message13

  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Trevor Mansell (U13140472) on Wednesday, 5th May 2010

    Miami in Florida was my worst experience. True the place was undergoing some refurbishment, but the immigration and passport control was a complete nightmare. Just one aircraft of passengers and we took 2 hours to clear immigration. The officer was surly and impolite. I was sorely tempted to take the next plane home. Fortunately, all the other folk I met in Florida were great.

    Biratnagar in Nepal is fun. They blow a hooter to warn farmers to get their animals off the runway when planes are due to land or take off.

    Once spent seven hours stuck in Dheli waiting for a connection. Vending machines all broken, toilets a disgrace (even for India), no refreshments anywhere. Calcutta was not much better.

    Bombay - 3 hour check in even before the current security scares. Thousands of people waiting to board flights in the early hours. No computers, everything checked by hand. Probably better now.

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by clubbable (U14272415) on Saturday, 8th May 2010

    Belfast International takes the biscuit, the victoria sponge , and the wedding cake.

    Last month Belfast International Airport introduced a variation on their long running Welcome to Belfast campaign.

    We're used to the steps not being ready and having to wait on board, the aircraft parking a hundred yards away from shelter when it's pouring rain, the baggage handlers being taken by surprise when a late night plane turns up but last month a new tactic was introduced. To all intents and purposes Belfast International Airport was locked up for the night.

    The flight from Paris was delayed so we didn't get in til after midnight, and after being soaked in the rain we trundled the endless corridor following the baggage reclaim signs until we got to some steps. The door at the top of the steps was locked and remained locked for twenty five minutes. We were going nowhere and no one was to be found.

    One woman rang her taxi driver and asked him to enter the terminal and tell the staff that the passengers were in the building but the door into the security hall was locked. This he did and was instructed to mind his own business.

    We had just thought of ringing Stephan Nolan on Radio five live, hopefully he was on his late night show, when eventually the door opened and the guy at the head of the queue was told that there had been some trouble with the fire alarms and the doors had been locked as a precaution. Eyewash.

    Two officious immigration officers then scrutinised each and every passport in minute detail (the female of the species was particularly lacking in any social graces). Given that the plane was full of families with overwrought and tired children they clearly surmised that Al Qaeda had infltrated Disneyland.

    Yet another golden chapter in this airport's history. Don't let it stop you coming though, great place. Just come via Belfast City. Slightly different problem there. Just as Belfast International only has one set of steps, the City only has one de -icer which is not reliable in cold weather. Heigh ho.

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by Principled (U8899543) on Saturday, 8th May 2010

    The sad thing is that many airport workers seem unable to comprehend that THEIR wages are paid for by the very people who they appear not to want to help.
    Thankfully, each airport usually has a few "gems" who are willing to do that bit extra to help. However, such occasions are so rare that when it happens it is indelibly etched in one's memory!

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by Annie-Lou est Charlie (U4502268) on Monday, 10th May 2010

    "(the female of the species was particularly lacking in any social graces)."

    Never, ever go for the female border control/customs/security officers! They are always more humourless and more jobsworth. And you can't get anywhere by fluttering!

    I once spent an unplanned night in Sophia Airport when my flight was diverted. This was back in the communist days and boy was it grim!

    Report message17

  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Monday, 10th May 2010

    Airports in Africa are stressful. Often when you arrive, you are a approached by a chap with an authentic-looking identity tag, who says if you pay him a certain amount of money, you will be able to go through Customs without your bag being examined.

    I have always refused to pay but had the feeling that the officials were deliberately giving my bag a good going-over because I had not paid their mate with the identity tag the money! smiley - biggrin

    Report message18

  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by grandpacliffy (U14287151) on Monday, 10th May 2010

    A few years ago I flew into Aktau airport and queued outside a hut within which passports and visas were checked. On leaving via the exit we were escorted round the outside to the same entrance where we were re-united with our baggage, only to enter it again for the baggage check. Luckily, they didn't have many flights!
    I'm pleased to say that it has since been modernised.

    Report message19

  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by alanseago (U14475419) on Sunday, 23rd May 2010

    Lagos Nigeria. I was unexpectedly met by a uniformed official who offered to see me through customs. Arriving at the airport exit, I was arrested by an armed policeman for entering without passing customs. Luckily our agent was on hand to pay the 'dash'. Getting out a month later was easy, I had a large note in my ticket, my passport, my boarding card etc.
    I did have the pleasure of marking it as Bribery and Corruption in my expenses.

    Report message20

  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by mikeball (U5068058) on Tuesday, 25th May 2010

    everybody connected with the flying experience, from governments on down, seems to be determined to treat the travelling public with total contempt. a multi billion industry and we pay their salaries! why do we put up with it? there are millions of us! time for an international air travellers union methinks. any takers?

    Report message21

  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 21.

    Posted by alanseago (U14475419) on Tuesday, 25th May 2010

    There are some excellent airports and airlines. I could happily spend a day at Singapore Changi. The airline is impeccable also, I would add Emirates and Dubai.

    Report message22

  • Message 23

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by norty (U8266470) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    Koh Samui airport is delightful. Lots of open sided huts with warm air blowing through keeping you cool, Internet access, lovely staff and very comfortable seats.



    Report message23

  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by offasmate (U14173562) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    I have recently used Luton to fly to Spain. I am disabled and use the disabled parking spaces for drop-off and pick-up. They used to be right next to the terminal building but they are now in the main car park some 250/300 yards away.
    The parking spaces where the disabled spaces were is now full of taxis. Now any of you who know Luton will also know that a very high percentage of the local taxi drivers are of Asian ethnic origin. I am an 80yrs old white Brit. I wrote to the CEO of the airport about all this and the reply that I received stated that this is a security measure.
    There was no obvious assistance available.
    The following is a copy of the reply that I had from Luton Airport.

    Drop off and pick up parking for the disabled

    Thank you for your e-mail, dated 23 May. We are disappointed to hear that you were less than satisfied with your journey through London Luton Airport. We have taken this opportunity to enclose a guide to the procedures and facilities available here for disabled customers. As you will see there are procedures in place to assist disabled customers to and from the car parks at no charge. Assistance can be gained by using one of the Special Assistance Points which are available in all car parks. Specially trained staff who work only with disabled customers will then attend promptly and assist customers to the check-in desk, if required.

    Regrettably due to the security restrictions, imposed by the Dept for Transport, only holders of valid airport ID passes are able to park within the close proximity of the terminal building. The taxis that you see parked in the terminal adjacent bays are all ID holders and have been stringently vetted.

    We hope this clarifies the situation and that this recent incident has not deterred you from travelling through London Luton Airport in the future.

    Yours sincerely

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 24.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    "London Luton Airport," eh? smiley - biggrin

    There is a lot of jiggery-pokery with airport names these days isn't there .... that one is pretty misleading to foreigners. Doncaster Airport is called "Robin Hood Airport," again a bit misleading for Americans seeking men clad in Lincoln green in Sherwood Forest.

    My own local airport is called "John Lennon Airport ...... above us only sky" but we call it Speke Airport. smiley - smiley

    Report message25

  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 25.

    Posted by jonjel (U7302507) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    I have always called it Speke as well Portly, and I quite (used) to like the laid back and fairly casual procedure.

    Robin Hood has connotations of robbing the rich, which is probably about right for most airports.

    I often go to Bristol airport, and there we have a wonderful scheme of a 10 minute drop off/pick up free car park. Anyone who can time the arrival of a flight within 10 minutes is doing rather well, and better than the airlines themselves. Add to that the chaos caused by people who have overstayed their allocated time and have no means to pay and it is a place to be avoided.

    What I and most other people do when collecting friends or clients is to park about half a mile from the airport in a lay-by or field entrance, and when we get the telephone call that our passengers are through baggage claim we then, and only then go to the 10 minute car park, or pick them up (my choice) on the roadside immediately opposite the main car park.

    Report message26

  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    What I and most other people do when collecting friends or clients is to park about half a mile from the airport in a lay-by or field entrance, and when we get the telephone call that our passengers are through baggage claim we then, and only then go to the 10 minute car park, or pick them up (my choice) on the roadside immediately opposite the main car park.  

    That's exactly what my brother did when he picked me up from Speke on my return from Lanzarote last year!

    Report message27

  • Message 28

    , in reply to message 25.

    Posted by Principled (U8899543) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    You'd be surprised how far "London" spreads.
    London Gatwick and London Stansted should be added to your London Luton.
    I was on a flight to "London" Stansted recently and got speaking to a group of lads from Denmark who were going to "London Airport". I then explained where "London" Stansted was and asked them where they were staying. They said "London" and then proceeded to show me an address in Hertfordshire. I just hope they managed to get to their accommodation before their return flight two days later! If only they had gone to "London" Luton, they would at least have stood a chance!

    Report message28

  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 28.

    Posted by offasmate (U14173562) on Wednesday, 26th May 2010

    I favoured Luton when it was more like you local bus station. That was back in the 1970's when you arived at the airport, parked right outside the main entrance, emptied the car, walked inside with your luggage, casually checked-in, showed your passport to the man in the blue uniform and got on your plane....Happy days!

    Report message29

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