Friday, March 03, 2006


Hurry up and wait (Definition of an airport, Nomes, Terry Pratchett)

I am getting more and more fed up with airports. I know that airports are the only ones still earning money by sucking like leeches on airlines, travellers and shops. What you get in return is a lousy service, long walking distances, long taxi distances, unfriendly staff, artificial barriers, messy toilets and no decent smoking facilities, and if, they are well hidden.

In the old days you had to show your passport and boarding pass once, now with Schengen you have to show your passport five times. New passports should be the size of badges, so you may wear them around your neck. But I think we will end up having them implanted in the ears like cattle. They are making you ready for this. Some security checks now require that you show your boarding pass before, during and after security check. Is this a sanity check? Because only somebody completely insane or perverse would cross a security check just for fun.

Since some time I am only travelling with hand luggage because airports (not airlines) are loosing your luggage. Suitcases very rarely are dropping off planes. The last time I travelled with checked in luggage they lost it in Stockholm Arlana on arrival.

I reported about the Copenhagen desaster in January caused mainly by airport staff here. In Frankfurt you feel like a white mouse in maze, walking miles from one gate to the other. In Bruessels it is very straightforward, but you also walk a mile. In Amsterdam they give you a sightseeing tour around the Netherlands by driving you 20min from the runway to the gate.

Last Wednesday evening I left from Heathrow. I took the Heathrow Expess from Paddington. They brag "15 min from Paddington to Heathrow". Yes, to the railway station in Heathrow. They do not tell you that there is a 15 to 20min walk to Terminal 2 in addition.

When I arrived at Terminal 2, I checked in and went up to the departure hall and there was a queue from the departure entrance back to the arrivals outlet. When I arrived at the end of the queue they just started to turn the queue around back to departure. It took 30 min to get through security. What was really annoying where the announcements every 5 minutes that they apologize for the delay.

No, I do not apologize, particularly after I saw that only three of the six available scanners where in operation. I bet that they had six scanners in operation until 5 o'clock and then half of the staff went home.

I just wonder how the airside shops like this, because nobody had any time to do some shopping, everybody went straight to the gate.

Of course the land-side shops like this, because there is an easy trick to avoid standing 30 min in the queue. You just go for a beer and wait until 30 min before departure. Then you are allowed to proceed on the fast lane direct through security. Airlines may now consider to place the lounges outside the gate area, because inside they are useless.

BTW, Vienna airport is still very small and cosy, but they are already working on new terminals to improve the situation ;-)

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