39 comments on “Stereotypes are fun

  1. Just think though what would be free in the UK? Maybe some crisps and nuts? Maybe Turkey wants travellers to think well of them? The UK doesn’t care, just living on its former glories Besides which, aren’t most UK airports owned by the French? What would they care about the impressions that travellers take away?

  2. UK airports are horrendous.

    Last weeknd travelling to Manchester via Munich and back via Zurich, the traveller makes a deeply unfavourable impression of the former compared to the latter two.

    The same goes for Stansted, entry point for millions of tourists – the first impression they will have of our sceptr’d isle is mildewed carpets and Halfwits at immigration yelling at them to get in the right queue.

    Haven’t seen too much of LHR only term 5 and that’s not too bad actually, except they make you go through the same stupid “security” checks in transit as if you weren’t already airside.

    Compare that with the German transit arrangements which basically involve a stroll through a shiny brand new shopping arcade littered with bookshops and attractive looking restaurants and bistrots, the oaccasional smoking area (now that’s civilization even though I no longer smoke). With no unnecessary x-raying patting down or being barked at by fascists.

    I suppose they’ve had their dose of fascism and are a little more careful to avoid more (notwithstanding the EU). Unlike the UK where we are well on the way down a nasty slippery slope of authoritarianism.

  3. UK airports are horrendous.

    The worst aspect of them are the deeply unattractive authoritarians in their hi-viz vests and walkie-talkies who order people around with all the self-importance of somebody coordinating the D-Day landings.

  4. Diogenes said:
    “aren’t most UK airports owned by the French?”

    The Manchester Borough Councils are probably the biggest airport owner – Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth.

    Heathrow was Spanish-owned, think it still is. Isn’t Gatwick owned by an assortment of foreign State pension funds?

    Don’t the French own our railways rather than airports?

  5. LHR is variable.

    Coming into the UK a few weeks back from Greece, I definitely noted the “being shouted at by people in hivis” phenomenon, though.

    The BA business class lounge has croissants, porridge and toast.

    NO BACON ROLLS

  6. Don’t the French own our railways

    No, that’s the Germans (and the Dutch) – the French own London buses, though.

    Back (vaguely) on topic, last time I went through IST (admittedly, this was 23 years ago), I picked up a 200g tin of Beluga for £25.

  7. > Isn’t Gatwick owned by an assortment of foreign State pension funds?

    Gatwick was bought up by Global Investment Partners, a private equity group. No doubt some pension funds are invested in them.

    Incidentally, the entirety of Gatwick – one runway, two terminals, hangars, car parks, monorail, etc. – was sold for £1.5bn. Building a second runway at Gatwick is estimated (by the Airports Commission) to cost £9.3bn.

  8. @JohnSquare – the BA business lounge in T5 does pastries, coffee and bacon rolls of a morning, Plus omelette if you’re that kind of pervert

  9. Richard

    Heathrow is partially owned (25%) by the Spanish company Ferrovial, which I believe also runs Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton.

  10. At Glasgow airport a few years ago, the public address was allegedly in English but was incomprehensible.

  11. “The same goes for Stansted, entry point for millions of tourists – the first impression they will have of our sceptr’d isle is mildewed carpets and Halfwits at immigration yelling at them to get in the right queue.”

    I use Stansted several times a year and I’ve never noticed mildewed carpets or any staff “yelling” at customers.

    “Don’t the French own our railways…”

    No. The tracks, stations etc are owned by Network Rail, which is a nationalised UK company. The service franchises are held by a variety of companies, some of which are foreign.

  12. “I use Stansted several times a year and I’ve never noticed mildewed carpets or any staff “yelling” at customers.”
    Nor I.

  13. I should point out that bad as though British airports are, nothing beats airports in Nigeria. They genuinely must be seen to be believed. The scariest thing is I actually got used to them.

  14. There are many bad things about Stansted but one of the worst is the smell of damp carpets as soon as you get off the plane. It really is quite strong. A strong contender is whoever designed the place so that you have to go up or down a flight of steps every 20 yards?

    If it was Norman Foster, he should be buried in the foundations of Crossrail immediately.

  15. The main problem with British airports is being full beyond capacity. I particularly abhor long zig-zag “cattle gates” at security (on departure) and at passport control (on arrival): that’s a classic sticking-plaster solution.

    I can understand a small airport struggling – e.g. Chambéry on a ski Saturday which receives six flights between 08:50 and 09:25 – but the likes of Stansted or Gatwick should never see long queues forming. Many airports even have the cheek to sell you queue-jump tickets: not only admitting that they have a problem, but profiting from it too.

  16. TN, if Nigerian airports are anything like Lusaka airport I know exactly what you mean.

    As for UK airports, Manchester is the pits. Especially T2. I recently tried to take an alan key back to NL for my bike. The little Hitler on security told me that tools aren’t allowed through the security area. Probably explained why he’s stuck there.

  17. Andrew M, coming into Manchester on a Friday evening is a nightmare. At passport control they have those automated passport gates (10 of them) which have obviously been installed at great expense. However, the muppets in passport have seen fit to only have 5 gates operating at anyone time. Plus the jobsworth at the queue entrance will not let you take the option of going to the manned booths – that’s for non-EU travellers only…apparently. I swear that the main criteria for employment in the Border Agency or whatever it is called this week is to be a complete and utter fuckwit.

  18. Arriving at LGW or LHR usually has me swearing as border control wait for the queue to become monumental before they bring out extra staff who have presumably been sitting on their backsides doing nothing in the staff room.

  19. I suspect the reason UK airports are so bad is because they are so overmanned. You can’t move in Gatwick without bumping into a laminated badge. At St Pancras they are nowhere to be seen.

  20. I can understand a small airport struggling – e.g. Chambéry on a ski Saturday which receives six flights between 08:50 and 09:25

    Unless there is fog, which happens a great deal because they built it RIGHT NEXT TO A FUCKING LAKE. In the mountains.

    So, off to Lyon it is then. Ho hum.

  21. IST was the best business lounge I’ve ever seen – not just kebabs but just about anything else you could think of to eat or drink… And a cinema… It eclipsed the Concorde lounge at JFK.

    Friends that visited recently said it was overcrowded tho…

    Agree on worst airports – Lagos and port Harcourt were the shittiest shitholes I ever flew into – and the service on Nig Air the worst too…

  22. Just flew into and out of Munich for a week’s skiing in Austria. First time in a long time I’ve enjoyed an airport, though we did get very heavily x-rayed. Chambery is shite, ditto Geneva.

  23. It is not a stereotype if they serve the national food. It is a stereotype if you get the sh!ts afterwards and have to spend the next two weeks on the toilet.

    Or they take people who sneak in with an Economy ticket outside to beat them on the soles of their feet and then sodomise them.

  24. Frankfurters in Lufthansa Senator lounge in…. Frankfurt. Wouldn’t know what was in the lounge in Munich as I could never find the bloody thing.

    Best lounge… Qatar business class in Doha. They put their plebeian silver and gold card holders flying economy (i.e. Me!) in another’s lounge altogether. Still nice there though with decent coffee and good staff..

    Worst airport? Anything in the Uk. Long flight and we end up walking f.,,ing miles in a big loop to end up at the passport line next to the non-EU line that had a direct and short route signposted from the gate. Almost as if they were expecting a massive queue and wanted to slow people down.

    Changi…. even if you don’t have a resident pass it never takes more than five minutes to queue. We have passes as my wife works there (hence the status from flying discount economy fares!) and it takes seconds to go through passport control. Why are Uk biometric systems so useles? Changi Airport is great with butterfly enclosure, cinema, and efficient and cheap taxis. Takes less than an hour from landing to home, and that includes a 30 minute taxi journey.

  25. Changi Airport is still pretty amazing, and you stay airside, unlike the likes of Hong Kong and Dubai. Going back through security at Abu Dhabi is particularly bad. You are herded into a narrow corridor and shuffle along with a mass of humanity that doesn’t understand the concept of queuing. You can see the express lane but can’t get to it. We’ll never fly Etihad again as we don’t want to repeat the experience.

    We like the Virgin Atlantic lounge at LHR and always make use of the arrivals lounge, even flying business, it is nice to shower and shave and feel human again before going off to meet the family. Sadly, because they stopped the Sydney flight we don’t use VA so much. We’ll find out what Qatar lounge is like this year.

    Oliver Tambo (née Jan Smuts) is a bloody nightmare. Always understaffed by surly immigration staff who are in no hurry. There is no express lane coming in or going out. Boarding is a shambles and the BA lounge (used by Qantas) is always overcrowded, though the food and drink are usually pretty good.

  26. Changi is an interesting experiment. After all, pretty much the same people, speaking the same language, run Guangzhou airport. Which regularly has eight or nine hour delays. Which is crowded with people who think queuing is an insult. Which is pretty much what you would think hell would be if hell was sitting around with no information, surrounded by a sea of short black heads belonging to angry people moving at random in what resembles a sauna with the power off. And where the only pleasure is watching to see if someone is going to follow up throwing things at the nice girls at the counter with a full on riot.

    At least that is what it has been like the last few times I passed through.

    If development is just a matter of money, as China becomes richer, it should converge with Changi. But if culture is what matters, Changi will decline until it becomes like Guangzhou. Who wants to make a bet about which is more likely? Certainly Changi is a monument to the personality of Lee Kwan-yew.

  27. Guangzhou is an awful airport, I always try to either use Shenzhen or take the high speed train.

    The long delays are a China-wide thing not a GZ thing. The military controls the who sky and allows only narrow corridors for commercial aircraft so if there’s a storm the planes are grounded as they can’t fly around it… or so I’m told. Also the military can just shut down the sky around an airport any time they fancy it if they want to do some drills or whatever.

    If development is just a matter of money, as China becomes richer, it should converge with Changi.

    The newer airports are converging with Changi. Guangzhou is pretty old in China infrastructure terms now. The new Shenzhen and Shanghai HQ terminals are really nice. Government vanity projects to be sure.

  28. SMFS – ah but Singapore culture is very different from Chinese culture even if ethnically they are the same. The Singaporeans look down on mainland Chinese as being, well, not as civilised. Rich yes, but not sophisticated.

    Interested – as did I. It was just that the UK/EU passport sign lead down a long corridor, round a couple of right hand corners, back down a long corridor and then opened out 10-15 yds from where I had started. I understand queue management but why did the non-UK sign point people straight at the queue (sort of, it pointed people through a doorway at a wall. I am not (often) stupid for had I seen the immigration line for non-UK straight away I would have gone that way as the desks are always close together.)?

    Much prefer Singapore and frequent trips just highlight how Heathrow sucks on a bad day.b

  29. Hong Kong is a business airport and works really well, especially if you have one world status to get in the Cathay Pacific lounges. Sydney has installed passport Reading machines in the 200m approach to the actual border gate that issue a ticket to get you through the gate as quick as HK id card does in hk. Gatwick and Heathrow should take a lesson. Agree flying into China is rubbish largely due to PLA coming btrolling the skies.

  30. If it was Norman Foster, he should be buried in the foundations of Crossrail immediately.
    It was Norman Foster, though in fairness, and I don’t like being fair to him, the place has been totally buggered by the deliberate shopping maze you have to negotiate to get anywhere.
    The real beauty of African airports is the crashed aircraft that are not removed but left for the local population to slowly dismantle , saves on knackers yard fees but does little for confidence in the system, the old Nairobi airport had a burnt out crashed aircraft feet from the control tower as a sign of impending doom for a couple of years.

  31. The real beauty of African airports is the crashed aircraft that are not removed but left for the local population to slowly dismantle , saves on knackers yard fees but does little for confidence in the system, the old Nairobi airport had a burnt out crashed aircraft feet from the control tower as a sign of impending doom for a couple of years.

    Lagos harbour is like that. To be fair the airport doesn’t have any crashed planes lying around, but there are similar monuments to African incompetence nearby. My favourite was the multi-story carpark they started to build opposite the terminal entrance, which never got finished. Somebody obviously got embarrassed by the half-built ruin covered in foliage that people see as the first thing when exiting the airport so got them to build a huge metal screen around it. I can only assume this did the job quite well for a while until, inevitably, that fell down as well. Now the first thing a visitor sees on arrival at Lagos is a half-built ruin covered in foliage with a load of twisted around it. Things don’t get much better from there…

  32. Free kebabs in the business lounge and no cats or dogs for miles around the airport, I wonder if there is a connection.

  33. I notice that airports and more especially airlines are making the whole process self-service now, though you have to use the process exactly as designed, and there are the usual variants to confuse. I’ve just been to Norway – Ryanair bag-drop at STN had automated baggage tag production but manual drop into the baggage maw. Norwegian at Tromsø automated both parts, though the baggage maw rejected my wife’s bag & we then had to queue for manual processing. Ryanair at Gardermoen was traditional.

    A couple of years ago we were flying from Sydney to Christchurch, and AirNZ had automated check in at Sydney. So we went through the process & got rejected. The guy who came over to help said it wouldn’t let us proceed as there was no record of us having onward passage from NZ, so NZ combines airline check-in with immigration checks! As we had booked the long-haul aspects of the trip (Air Malaysia) separately from the short-haul, the system wasn’t clever enough to marry the two. He sorted it out eventually when we showed him the departure details from Auckland but that took far longer for us than the old manual process would have.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.