Sunday, 27 September 2009

Top 5 Worst Airports

1. London Heathrow (LHR)
I can barely put my hate of this airport into words. The words that spring to mind are; disorganised, crowded, dilapidated (or large portions of it) and crap. Three of the terminals are straight out of the 60's. The layout of everything from checkin, to security, to the gates, to baggage reclaim, is appalling. Security checks are painfully slow and in Terminal 2 bits are falling off the wall. The transfers between terminals are slow and awkward, the bus transfer to Gatwick is nigh on impossible to find. Terminal 4 is barely adequate and Terminal 5 - when they get it working right - might be ok. The problem is invariably you are never confined to the ok terminals and have to spend time in the awful ones. Sure there are renovations going on (which makes the current situation even worse) but most of it is so bad they should just level everything and start again. The worst part is that business travel agents insist on transferring you through Heathrow, regardless where you are coming from or going to, as if it is some sort of treat. I would rather transfer through the 7th circle of hell than Heathrow.

2. Sydney International (SYD)
A recent addition to my 'shit list' of airports and the criticism is equally valid for Perth (PER) and Melbourne Tullamarine (MEL). The long and the short of it is; the terminal designs are awful, the shops and restaurants suck and in the case of Sydney, security don't know their ass from their elbow. While transferring between the domestic and international terminals at Sydney, i was on a bus with a lot of people whose connecting flight was being held for them. Only once we got off the bus, we spent 30 minutes stuck behind a locked security door, while people continued to pile off more buses. There were no CCTV cameras, so security had no idea where we were, the space was small cramped, rapidly filling up and the whole thing was just a shambles. I dread to think how poor the security is in general if they can't even unlock a door. Once i finally made it into the terminal, no-one knew where my flight was supposed to leave from. My ticket said one thing, security said another, the transfer desk another still, oh and screens that are supposed to display the information were all wrong. It was not until i ran into some sort of manager, that i or anyone else, knew what gate the flight was supposed to leave from ... 10 minutes before boarding. It is suddenly clear why so many people are prepared to pay $770/year to get into the Qantas Club. It is less of an executive lounge and more access to the standard of airport everyone should have. Finally Australia is the only country in the world, where they screen your baggage on the way out of the airport too. It should not take an hour after you get your luggage, to get out of an airport. Australian airports suck!

3. London Luton (LTN)
Another airport straight out of the 60's and falling to bits. Crappy shops and the worst part is that it is in the arse end of nowhere and a pain to get in to London. The only upside is that it is quite hard to end up there unless you are flying Easyjet.

4. Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG)
The thing that really irks me about CDG is that even the brand new Terminal 2 sucks. Rubbish shops, rubbish restaurant (singular), no access to executive lounges in large parts of it. Terminal 1 is worse of course, similar to most of Heathrow in its dilapidation. Oh and the easiest way to get their is by train ... unless of course there is a rail strike ... then you queue for an hour only to be crammed like a sardine onto a train and arrive 4 hours late. The only thing it has going for it, is that allegedly it isn't as bad as Paris Orly (ORY), though i can't confirm this as i haven't been.

5. Newark Airport (EWR)
Firstly this airport is not in New York, no matter what your travel agent tells you. The executive lounge is pretty much the same as the rest of the airport, but with very limited free snacks. Also they feel the need to show you a video on the plane when you are landing, telling you to only use official taxi's. Only they don't keep the unofficial taxi drivers out of arrivals area, so it is almost impossible to tell whether they are official or not, until you are at the car. Finally the TSA there deserve special ire, they strip searched a friend of mine because she has a muslim name. Despite the fact she was wearing western clothes, despite the fact she has a French passport, despite the fact she was returning from company training from an american multinational and most surprisingly, despite the fact she was flying Virgin business class. I mean really.

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