Incompetence of airports (and Heathrow especially)

Just read this article in USA Today about how much stress is caused to people who simply need to change planes at Heathrow. It is a common complaint that you hear all the time. It beggars belief the sheer incompetence you see at Heathrow. And the excuses they come out with are just incredible. They have had literally years to get this sorted and yet still you go through and sometimes half the machines are not even in use. Any new requirement causes chaos as their system breaks every single time.

And the bloody attitude you get from the staff! I can’t begin to tell you some of the stuff that has been said to me. They seem to have the idea that they are doing you some kind of massive favour instead of having the faintest idea that you are in fact a customer who is paying through the nose for the shambles.

Maybe, they will come to understand that we do have a choice as more and more of the people I speak to say they make a conscious decision to change in Amsterdam; Frankfurt or Paris. If Heathrow can’t sort itself out and treat those who have to use its services with some kind of understanding and respect then all that transit business; all the money spent in the shops and bars; all those hotel bills for layovers will move elsewhere – permanently.

Personally, the most shambolic example I have come across in the UK is Luton airport. Partly, I think because you have a lot of people using it who don’t travel regularly and don’t understand how it works these days so they never leave enough time. So, the queue for the gates etc is always full of people who have to push in in order to catch their plane. The queues at peak times to go through security are just a nightmare and to add salt into the wound there are always many of the x-ray machines just laying idle.

Anyway, none of this is to say that it is only the UK airports that are having problems. It is just they are especially bad and bloody rude with it! And, I wonder about the need for some of the security. If I have passed security in one airport why do I have to go through passport control again whilst still in transit. I can’t go anywhere in the meantime? Few days ago, en route to the US I had to go through full security to get to the gate at Stockholm airport. I then land in Amsterdam and to get to my gate for my Minneapolis flight I then have to go through passport control again. This was chaos with lots of people screaming they were going to miss their flight. You get some idea of the chaos in the shot below. This is all with only 50 minutes to change  planes and the gates being at almost opposite ends of the airport.

Passport control

Then when I eventually get to the gate. You have to present your passport; itinerary and boarding card and queue to be interviewed by representatives of US homeland security about what you’re doing/why you’re going/what you have in your bag etc etc.

All this crap that is part of air travel in 2007 must be having such an effect on business. I know people who now will only travel to some places when they absolutely have no choice. And, just simply on a straight time basis it has got really out of hand as you have to get to the airports earlier and earlier just to be sure you will get on your plane. You then spend large portions of your time simply queuing  instead of working. The collective cost of all this must be horrendous. Surely, there must be a better way?


Filed under: Absurdity, Airports

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