Ahh, dear readers, another travel day. Heading from Marykirk to Barcelona (from the sub-prime to the surrealist?), and thought I'd risk flying BA. The BA part isn't necessarily the issue - its the BAA (Bleetish Airports Hauchority) airports that I have to use. For instance. Two years ago, Aberdeen airport at 5am would involve wandering up to (one of six open) desks, picking up your boarding pass and dropping any baggage, wandering around to the restaurant and eating a fry up, then spending five minutes in security before going through to the gate. Such was the joy of a small regional airport.
Not anymore. BAA, no doubt to make its passenger experience 'consistent' throughout its airports, has now instigated a 15 minute queue at the 'fast' baggage drop, and a 20 minute queue to get through security. The queue almost stretched out of the door of the airport (some 200m long outside security). Now, I hear you say, there have been new rules put in place last summer, have there not, since the last 'terror outrage'. Yes. And there has been £800k spent on the security area at Aberdeen airport over last summer. What on ? No new machines, for sure. Lots of new queueing barriers but nothing that would actually reduce the queues.
So despite getting to the airport 45 minutes before my flight was due, I spent the whole time in queues. Lovely. Onto the flight, in the most foul of humours, and fell asleep. Woken by a bacon+egg breakfast, and another snooze before hitting the second-worst airport in Europe - Heathrow. (The worst is London Gatwick)
Heathrow. The fastest way to get from Terminal 1 domestic to Terminal 1 International is to actually walk all the way over to Terminal 2, have another security check, and walk all the way back. I'm guessing at least a mile round trip to get to the other side of a wall. And the walk itself was through dark, badly lit or uncarpeted corridors, ceilings removed and bare cabling (power, data, the lot. Hackers paradise) hanging down. Damp spots on the walls. All covered up with signs saying that 'BAA are working to make Heathrow better'. No actual workers mind you. Just signs.
Made the 35 minute yomp to the international departure lounge - nothing more than a large shopping centre for the arithmetically challenged (That is, its cheaper to buy stuff in a UK supermarket. Its even cheaper about 50% cheaper - to buy the stuff in another countries supermarket). And another 10 minute walk through the mess that is Terminal 1 international to 'Gate 30'. Why did I even bother showering this morning? (No doubt the elegant young lady on my right is thinking the very same thing..)
Heathrow. What a sh*thole. Sorry to offend, but even my normal hyperbole doesn't do the state of Heathrow justice. Is this the glamour of international air travel? Is this what I've paid £30 to BAA today in terms of airport taxes for ? A walk around a Spanish building site?
I think we should just level the place, and install a large catapult in its place. Those brave or foolish enough to risk it should have to pay millions for the pleasure of being flung to near certain death. Alternatively they could drive - the whole of south-east England is being paved over in any case, or risk the train service. Or just install Skype and do everything from their living room...
God I hate BAA, and through them, Air-Travel.
Update: Both Heathrow and Gatwick named and shamed in The world's worst airports'