I travel a lot for work. Airports vary wildly in quality. This can have a big impact on one's happiness and well-being. In this blog I review airports for the benefit of others who may choose to pass through them. Please add your comments, or send me your own reviews and I will post any that I decide might be useful.
Way back, John K. said Bristol Airport was his least favourite because there was nothing to do if you were stuck there. I said that I'd heard it had been upgraded. Well, after my horrible night there, I'll say it's possibly improved slightly but it's still shite. It's one of those airports with no decent food. There's a little cafe thing that does heat-in-the-microwave crap. It really is dire.
Birmingham Airport, though is just as bad if not worse. It's annoying that you wait in a different departure lounge than your companions if you've booked on different airlines (in our case, British Airways vs BMI). And the food and the bookshop are really bad. I mean I'm willing to read crap if I'm stuck somewhere for three hours and my laptop battery is dead. But it was really bad. I wandered round that tiny lounge about eight times, passing the bookshop and the restaurant over and over, somehow hoping that maybe I'd missed something that might help me.
They have the same chain restaurant all the airports seem to have now, which is often pretty good, the one with the chicken and stuffing pie. But in this airport, the staff couldn't care less; the food from this restaurant was really gross. I had soggy fish and chips. Also, I was standing behind a couple of French guys whose flight back to France was delayed- they were trying to spend an airline voucher for their dinner. They ended up with a horrible sandwich because their vouchers barely covered that. It was so sad, I really felt for them. They were laughing though, in that way you laugh when you've been in a weird horrible place for a couple of weeks and you're going slightly mad, but are nearly home.
This restaurant also had these signs everywhere saying "If you are in any way dissatisfied with your meal please let us know and it will be fully refunded". It's a measure of how British and despairing and jaded I've become that I just chuckle when I read that. I knew before the food was on my plate that I was dissatisfied with it but I needed to eat. To my mind, that seems to negate the message in the sign, plus I couldn't bring myself to do anything about it and ruin the evening of the poor miserable staff.
I haven't posted here for a very long time, but I have been in quite a few airports.
Here's a bit of weird serendipity for you.
I went to a work meeting in Bath in November 2005. I flew to Bristol and got a taxi all the way to Bath. First mistake. It's a long taxi ride around windy roads and I sat in the back seat of the taxi. So I got really carsick and spent the whole day feeling queasy.
Lots of other people had travel problems that day because there was a lot of fog. When I got back to Bristol Airport that night to fly home my flight was cancelled, due to (I think) all the hold-ups from the fog. British Airways offered to fly me to Edinburgh Airport (honestly, the English think that Scotland is the size of a pea) and bus me home from there. Sorry, not home, bus me to Glasgow Airport. From there it's another £15, half hour taxi drive to my home, which I estimated I would get to by about 2am at the earliest. I'd started out that day at about 4.30am to get my original flight. I asked to be put up in a hotel and flown home the next day instead. They refused- I didn't have the right sort of ticket. So I paid for it myself. They did give me a slight discount on the flight the next morning. Big of them, eh?
Then I waited in the weird airport car-park in the freezing cold, foggy dark for the hotel shuttle bus, for about 20 minutes. When I got into the shuttle I was frozen, slightly ill, exhausted and really grouchy. Instead of going back to the hotel, the shuttle went round to a different entrance in the airport, the one where the staff come out. Three flash young men in sweeping coats and expensive haircuts got in. I grumpily said "So, are you guys the pilots who were supposed to be flying me home tonight?". "No" they said, "we're airport designers. We've got a commission to re-design Glasgow Prestwick Airport".
So I told them about this blog, and they were fascinated, and asked my opinions on many airports. The main thing for me was that they moved my thinking slightly broader than just the food. For instance, I love the food at Stansted Airport- but what about the hideously long walk from the departure lounge to the gates? I mean, one time I was waiting in line to get some nice Pret a Manger food for my Easyjet flight, and Easyjet, in their inimitable arsehole-ish fashion, made an announcement that gave the impression I needed to be at the gate, like, five minutes ago. I dropped my food and ran, as did another woman. When we got there everyone was still sitting down and the flight didn't go for another 45 minutes. Guess they'd rather we bought their disgusting on-board food.
Anyway. If I hadn't been so tired and cold I would've given those guys the URL for this blog. But I didn't.