Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Why I dislike (hate) airports

Airports are today the biggest hurdle to getting to any foreign and global destination, it's the one thing that fills me with dread and anxiety. From the moment I wake to make that journey to the airport my heart beats at a random beat, hands become moist and I constantly check the clock to ensure I have plenty of time.

The point at which you finish packing and zip that bag to dropping it on your hotel bed is the worst for any trip. But let's look at the scenrio we are placed in:

1. Terrorist activity: We're all suspects, we're all guilty until proven innocent. We are all highly likely to turn up at an airport with a bomb in our bags, shoes or strapped to our stomachs....
The reality - the sheer majority of us don't want to die - let alone in an aircraft with several hundred other people (hardly makes our death special does it?!). An even greater majority have no idea how to build a bomb. In my petty 30 years there's only 2 plane bombings I know of and by all accounts from the evidence I read it was down to the inabilities and lack of skills of the professional security - not security procedures.

To get through it : remember your innocent, tell the truth and just don't pack any illegal substances! (that includes a return trip from Amsterdam!!!)

2. Security - truly this is my biggest bug bare. Firstly all security are miserable, unhappy and give the impression they hate you.  Everything they do is with a passion of a wet tea cloth. Then they insist you strip to your bare essentials - removing shoes and belts touching you up - where's the smiley face asking "how are you?" to make the experience easier?

We're sent through a scanning machine - and they still develop new technologies to invade our bodies. I find it disgraceful and shows we can only trust technology and not human beings in security - in fact it gives the impression security professionals cannot be trusted. Flying to America is the worst - in fact it's nuts and shows an inane amount of paranoia. (forgetting the fact you need a special visa for the country) I was grilled BEFORE I even checked in, my carry on luggage emptied at the first security, then on getting to the gate questioned again, I had to empty my bag when I reached the lounge all before taking off and then grilled again on arriving - always expecting to be put in prison or have a hand shoved up my arse purely for inspection purposes.

While traveling in Europe I wonder why I bother with a passport: they're willing to rummage through my personal belongings and except for the UK they are dis-interested in my identity - making security a total joke!

To get through it: at best just do urself a favour and put luggage in the hold, just take books and a phone/iPod in a light bag on the plane. For business trips give urself plenty of time and try to put all electrical items in an easy to reach place. As for the interrogation go on a few blind dates or speed-dating, helps prepare for your answers.

3. Ticketing - buy a ticket online, receive a receipt and booking reference. 24 - 30 hours before go online and check-in then get told to go to the check-in desk - what a waste of time. In a paperless era and airlines talk of innovation in e-tickets they still feel the necessity to use paper. The industry needs to get sorted - seriously it's a confusing mess.

To get Through it: just print ur ticket and use your work printer to keep it cheap. There's no other way!

4. Families and groups - there should be a different entry for groups and individuals/couples. Families with children cause huge delay and groups going on holiday take their time. They should be segregated

To get through it: good headphones, great music - just turn up the volume and breathe-in counting to 5 and out slowly. I also find just closing my eyes to ignore the situation truly helps, I can imagine myself on a deserted island amazing

5. Duty free - the products are still expensive and inflated on highstreet or supermarket prices.

To get through it : stay clear of airport shops

6. Smelly people

To get through it: stop breathing, you can do it for 60 seconds any longer you may die, so just don't! But if in 60 seconds you haven't escaped the culprit then you'll just have to suffer!

7. Airport food - is stupidly expensive, especially when an airport has no Whetherspoons, I love a British breakfast before boarding a plane in the morning for a holiday but it's hard to justify £10 for a breakfast - airports want to eat your cash before you arrive at your holiday spot.

To get through it: save more money, or as above eat like a pig before you get there.

8. Passport control - This has got to be the most annoying aspect of any airport, mainly at London Gatwick and London Heathrow - when you land you just want to get out to the normal world but instead - they make you walk the length and breadth of the entire airport before you get to passport control then further to get your bags and exit the building. I still cannot grasp the distance you have to walk and the circling route.

To get through it: consider it a workout - wear a pair of trainers and run, by the time you get out you could easily have clocked up 5km.

9. Plastic bags and liquid limitation. Until some wacko flew two planes into two very tall and identical buildings there was no liquid limitation in place - business men didn't have to display their daily beauty treatments to every other traveler, mothers could easily prepare milk for their babies and chavs could take litres of coke on board. The banning of items over 100ml was a reactionary decision ill-thought out without any rationale, another way to avoid letting monkey-brained security staff cause a security f**k up. Before the two buildings descent to ground zero there had been no issue with liquids yet one event changed everything - largely for the worse!

To get through it: take none with u, don't bother washing or cleaning on holiday - what's the fuss about anyway?

Such a large number of points to dislike airports yet I am a frequent traveler flying at least twice a month - these points show the mental preparation for a journey before landing in the destination. Take each one into consideration and always prepare for the worst that way the airport and your flight becomes much more enjoyable - in fact a pleasant surprise. But what does it say for an airline industry when we must go to these lengths to get enjoyment from the experience of the service they provide?