/ Travel & Leisure

What’s your biggest airport bugbear?

Airport queue

What’s your biggest gripe when you’re at an airport? We surveyed more than 1,000 Which? members to tell us what frustrates them most before they fly off for their holidays…

If we can ignore late or delayed flights, there isn’t much that gets me down at airports.

But it would be good if airports could provide more space to get dressed again after passing through security.

At busy times it’s obvious that there will be a bottleneck of holiday makers putting on belts and shoes and re-packing bags but the space to do this never seems to be adequate.

It reminds me of the supermarket checkout experience; you’ve paid for your shopping, but still packing your bags and the checkout assistant starts putting through the next customer’s shopping – causing unnecessary stress at a time you really don’t need it.

What we’re asked to unpack, pack or remove at airport security has changed over recent years and there are good reasons for this, but the space to do it in feels like it’s just the same.

Endless airport security queues

We asked Which? members what their biggest airport frustrations are. Top of the list is the endless queue to get through security, followed by paying to drop-off and pick-up passengers. And completing the top three is the price of airport parking.

But some people simply aren’t bothered by the stresses of finding a parking space or queuing for security – 10% said they didn’t find anything frustrating at all about UK airports.

Top airport frustrations survey results

• Queuing for security (49%)
• Paying to drop off/pick up passengers (47%)
• Price of airport car parking (46%)
• Lack of seating, such as too few seats or uncomfortable seating (43%)
• Queuing at passport control (43%)
• Queuing at check-in (41%)
• Price of food at outlets (39%)
• Waiting at baggage reclaim (37%)
• Lack of space to dress after security (37%)
• Having to walk long distances between terminals (35%)

What’s your biggest frustration when you go to the airport?

Comments
Profile photo of alfa
Member

The endless queues.

Member
Catherine says:
28 June 2014

Lack of cold water taps or water fountains to refill water bottles, when you can’t bring liquids through security.

Profile photo of Esther
Member

I strongly agree – drinking water taps should be widely available in all airports, in fact it should be obligatory for airports to provide these. I was overjoyed to find one in Dubai Airport, where I had no local currency to buy a drink. So I don’t understand why UK airports don’t have them. Flying can be very dehydrating.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

I can understand why they don’t have water fountains: it’s so they can rip you off. EVERYTHING in UK airports is extortionately overpriced. Water is just the start!

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Too right; your point is proven by the refusal of the airside shops to sell water in small bottles. There are sometimes drinking water fountains available but you have to have an empty bottle available to make use of it . . . and you got rid of that [together with half its contents!] before going into the security zone. It’s another one of those “There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza” scenarios.

Profile photo of richjenn13
Member

I’ve started to carry an empty bottle, so I can refill it if I find a fountain. Never been stopped.

Best. Richard

Member
Jane says:
4 July 2014

I used to carry empty bottles and fill them in the Ladies … but now the taps aren’t labelled as to whether the water is OK to drink, and they’ve started using the automatic taps which are pre-set to provide warm water – no good for drinking at all!!

Member
judith lacey says:
4 July 2014

They do have them, but they are usually quite well hidden! Often situated near cloakrooms.

Member
Maccbmw says:
5 July 2014

In Manchester there is a water fountain on the left in the wide corridor just as you leave the security area and move towards the first shopping area. At Zurich there is a chilled water dispenser just inside the pharmacy. I carry a small empty bottle and refill it once I am through security checks.

Member
Maccbmw says:
5 July 2014

Oops – forgot to say Terminal Two at Manchester and Section D at Zurich in previous comment.

Member
Mac bmw says:
6 July 2014

Went through Liverpool airport today with my empty bottle and no drinking fountain anywhere…….told to use the tap in the ladies! No customer services desk either to make a complaint.

Member
J N says:
28 June 2014

Trying to buy a pair of headphones or a packet of crisps and being told that I have to let them scan my boarding pass to do so. Nonsense. I’ve never agreed to it.

Member
david says:
4 July 2014

Even had to show boarding pass to buy a 0.60 newspaper at WH Smiths and silly self service tills that never work. In future will buy newspaper before airport

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Member

Would somebody please explain why they make us do this.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

I think it’s to do with charging you the correct amount of VAT and duty depending on whether you are flying within the EU VAT area or outside it. Even if they charge you the same price irrespective of destination, it still makes a difference as to how much money they pass on to HMRC. I’m also guessing that the airport wants to record this data for statistical purposes.

Member
Stephen Murchie says:
29 June 2014

Security !

I am 100% for better security, but why can’t we have a level playing field? Some airports its practically down to the underpants, others even in Europe they hardly look at you. More so if I’m wearing a suit I can’t even remember the last time I was stopped.
However, after a trip from Wimbledon with my 11 year old son we had a great time, got to Luton went straight to departures got to the security area for x ray and was told that we had to deflate the big tennis ball my son had got at the event or risk loosing it (that’s including all the signatures of famous players he managed to get). I enquired as to why there weren’t any signs or obvious indications in boarding passes to tell people? I also informed them I was a frequent flyer so where had this new ruling come from? My son by this time was in floods of tears and the security people seemed to find this quite hilarious. One of the guards who actually had a conscience, presented a solution that if I went into the departure lounge there was a sports shop there that sold footballs and I could possibly buy or borrow a valve to let the air out. I went through border control got through and the very kind lady assist me by giving me use of the shops own valve. We got the ball deflated and then had to endure yet more probing as my sons rucksack was then taken apart bringing out his under wear almost waving it about and all his personal items. I don’t think I have ever been so humiliated and my son now never wants to fly again!!
PS – The JD Sports Shop had footballs that were fully blown up, when I asked how they get them in, the assistant told me we bring them through security. I asked, blown up? The reply, yes !!
One rule for one another for everyone else, I totally get it, tell people or take them out the way so that 400 people are not watching an upset 11 year old?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Yes! The winner is : Security!

With a nod to Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times”, I sometimes wonder it wouldn’t be better if I just jumped on the conveyor belt and went through the scanning machine fully dressed with all my important articles remaining in their correct places. Not only do I wish there was consistency in requirements for the departure security procedures, Stephen, but that there would be a clear notice at the start of each line or channel saying what needed to be taken off and put through the scanner. Sometimes it’s shoes off but not the belt, at other places you can keep your shoes on but must remove the belt; it would make the process more comfortable if the airport-specific details were made known at the outset rather than just before reaching the conveyor belt by a loud shout from an impatient operative. The whole experience is characterised by total rudeness and implacability from the bored and uninterested staff and a lack of decent arrangements for conducting a necessary process with a modicum of consideration for the people involved [who ultimately are keeping the airports in business]. Some of the mechanical apparatus used in the security zone strikes me as being poorly designed with roller conveyors that don’t roll until there is a log-jam of containers backing-up and twenty people hopping about trying to get their shoes back on. A gentle gradient would keep the whole thing rolling along nicely to the re-dressing area where there should chairs and tables and enough space in which to make sure you’re back in the state in which you entered the zone. I should be interested to know howpessengers’ blood pressure readings might change during the airport security process; even the officials seem to be hyper.

Since having

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

The lack of free water, room for screening carried out away from the curious, etc are just symptoms of panic response to the 9/11 attacks without anyone being interested in trying to make it a less traumatic or simply a trying experience.

Obviously passengers have gripes but the airlines and the airport operators have no commercial incentive in changing what is happening given the huge number of people who continue to fly.

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

Quiet comfortable seating air-side and the ability to “check-in” sorry “drop off luggage ” more than 2 hours before flight.
Would encourage people to arrive early.
I have never had a long delay in going through security and am always impressed by how jolly and light hearted the security staff are.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I don’t like the term “bag drop”. I know it’s just a trendy name for the check-in desk, but even when you have done the auto-check-in process in the departures hall at a computer terminal that scans your passport and isues a boarding card, you still have to take your luggage to a desk where an official checks it in, weighs it and attaches the labels. We have luggage consisting of suitcases, not bags, and we don’t want them dropped.

Member
Gordon says:
1 July 2014

If you check on most airport websites there’s usually information as to how to prepare for security.

Member
Stephen says:
4 July 2014

…but some airports are better than others. Manchester does security well, friendly attentive staff, doing their job, but offering assistance where necessary. Both big London airport have disinterested staff, and are amongst the worst in the world outside the USA. This is down to the staff (or perhaps the way staff are hired or treated) not the passengers.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

The things that annoy me most are:
– Queues for security (anything more than 30 seconds is unacceptable). Madrid usually has no queues, so why can’t Heathrow do the same?
– Charging for plastic bags at security (a uniquely British scam?)
– Charging for baggage trolleys (increasingly common globally)
– Lounges are airside instead of landside (e.g. Verona) or before security (e.g. Prague)
– Even worse, no lounge at all (e.g. London City except when flying to JFK)
– Long distances to walk around the airport (e.g. Hong Kong)
– Lots of unnecessary stairs, unsuitable for wheeled baggage (e.g. Moscow Domodedovo)
– No train station (e.g. Barcelona T1)

Profile photo of NFH
Member

My above comment should have read “Lounges are landside instead of airside (e.g. Verona) or before security (e.g. Prague)

Member
Rainbow says:
1 July 2014

Queues at security, lack of seating in certain areas & prices for refreshments !!!

Member
Stephen says:
2 July 2014

Security staff chatting to one another and not paying attention to keeping the queue moving, or making the airport secure. This is a particularly a problem at London airports, for some reason.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Actually what’s even more annoying is when they don’t open all the security lanes, often only half, even when passengers are queuing. A queue is indicative of a problem, and this problem is that many London airports neglect to open sufficient security lanes to meet demand.

Profile photo of ShaunR
Member

Special assistance for disabled at Gatwick has been awful at times. I still don’t understand why, unlike airports in other countries, that you can’t be left alone with a wheelchair. I could very happily have pushed my wife around from the moment our bags were dropped. Instead we had to wait for wheelchair/wheelchair pusher at terminal entrance (25mins), then get dropped at pre-security reception and wait another 20mins for another wheelchair/wheelchair pusher to take us through security and drop us in another reception area. Add in the long wait in security line (because special assistance lane now includes families with children), and you’re talking close to 90mins to go about 300 feet from airport entrance to duty free.

Member
Christopher says:
4 July 2014

I find that airports are almost invariably too warm… much too warm… both winter and summer. I was at Terminal 5 Heathrow yesterday, and yes, once again the cooling system was not powerful enough /
/ turned up/down enough, to deal with the hundreds of bodies milling around…. I finally went into a shop that was cooler than the areas for passengers to sit down in.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Just veering ever-so- slightly away from the topic for a second, I have always wondered in what circumstances in a busy airport terminal the armed police would discharge their automatic weapons. It occurs to me that terrorists and other threatening people probably realise that the police will probably not use their machine guns deliberately and mow down innocent passengers and airport staff. If deterrence is the objective, then a small but powerful side-arm in the hands of a well-trained officer would probably achieve the desired effect of stopping and disarming a suspect. And a good dog is worth an armoury of weapons.

Profile photo of tovah
Member

The ONLY people who really understand the security issues are ElAl Israel Airlines. They question the people first – with a very carefully arranged set of questions – and then decide if it’s necessary to check baggage, shoes, etc. The most ridiculous security is in USA where they have decided that profiling is discriminatory and possibly racist! Well of course it is! That’s the point…..

Member
Derrick says:
4 July 2014

I am 100% behind the comments relating to security and the attitude of the staff G4S in most cases I believe.
It’s just as bad at Southampton cruise terminals. My wife was wearing a small pair of shoes and I had heavy walking boots because I had just completed a 2 mile walk around the Hilton hotel.

My 75 year old wife was made to remove her shoes which was not easy standing up because she suffers from arthritis. I then started to unlace my boots and told by the man at the belt. “No need to take those of sir, they are fine”. Does anyone know why, as small pair of elderly ladies shoes are a threat to Queen Mary 2 and my heavy boots are fine. Just trying to imagine what kind of explosives could be hidden my my wife’s shoe which could blow a hole in the side of a 150,000 ton cruise liner

Profile photo of richjenn13
Member

Having to wander up and down artificial “lanes” with all your bags at check in/baggage drop/security, even though there’s only a few people – would only take a moment to open the fabric barriers, but I reckon it’s all part of the process of humiliating and de-moralising passengers. Exeter Airport definitely the worst offender at this I’ve encountered [in addition to casual rudeness generally].

Recent flights through Schipol reveal how it CAN be done – EVERY airport manager should be forced to undergo an Internship there to see what an airport experience can be like.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

And to add insult to injury, many airports charge for the use of the trolleys to make it easier to manage the mazes which lead to the various check-points. This is a direct penalty against the less physically capable. Then there are no trolleys to be had at any price after security – obviously, remaining “hand luggage” should be personally portable but it can still be heavy and awkward to manouevre and you often have to walk with it for miles to the departure gate.

Member
Jane says:
4 July 2014

The lack of 24-hour transport to some airports. We quite often travel out of Stansted early in the morning and are forced to drive (ourselves, or in a taxi depending on what the exorbitant parking fees will be!), because the Stansted Express doesn’t run between midnight and 5am, or thereabouts. Even if we’re going from Gatwick and use the train (which does run all night, albeit less frequently), we have the problem of getting to/from Victoria during “unsocial” hours.

Member
Mr Eric Stewart says:
4 July 2014

Two main moans for me are,
1. Duty Free prices are ofter more expensive than prices in the ordinary shops on any high street?
2. Standing in a queue waiting to board a plane after passing through the gate, especially EasyJet ( SleazyJet) flights where I find myself standing for up to an hour before we are allowed to board the damned plane??? Why can’t they let us sit in the gate seating areas until the flight is ready?

Member
Jolyon Kay says:
5 July 2014

ryanair ditto

Member
steve says:
7 July 2014

Nobody makes you stand in the queue. I sit down until the aircraft has 95% loaded and then stand up and virtually walk straight on. Now there are allocated seats there is no scrum for any particular seat, so why queue to get on early and sit there while everybody else sorts themselves out?

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

I used to do that until I had problems finding room for my hand luggage !
I wish they would board from the middle out ( 2 entrances) a few rows at a time.

Member
EddieS says:
4 July 2014

People who insist on taking too much hand baggage on to the plane. On a recent flight there was one lady who had a baby in push chair and seven items of hand baggage. She got very nasty with the boarding crew when they told her that four of them would have to go in the hold. Why do the airlines not screen this problem out at the check in?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Good point Eddie. I have often wondered why there are all these instructions about luggage having to fit within certain dimensions and then the check-in desk doesn’t even inspect the hand baggage to make sure it is compliant. The consequence is that those passengers sitting in the more forward rows, who are called last to board, find the overhead lockers lready full of massive and multiple cases and bags. As well as testing the luggage in the three-dimensional frame at check-in, each passenger should be required to hold it above their head for twenty seconds to make sure they are capable of physically stowing it on-board safely without dropping it on another passenger’s head. I have seen many an accident in the making upon arrrival as people struggle to get their cases etc down from the lockers.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

EddieS – How can an airline “screen this problem out at the check in” when check-in is done at home online or or a mobile device?

Member
JohnN says:
4 July 2014

My biggest bugbear is being prevented from boarding a flight to Mexico transiting via Atlanta because the airline decided to treat Mexico as the 51st state. It would be nice if they told you you needed a visa when you are simply transiting. Anybody else had this problem?

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Member

It isn’t the airline, it’s the US authorities. The US doesn’t understand transit. It’s the same going to Canada, you’ll get grief from US immigration. Best to fly direct.

Member

Biggest bugbear? From arrival at the car park to taking off. Everything else is just dandy.

Profile photo of DrDickMorris
Member

Apart from most of the above, would just like to add one “thing I hate most about flying” – Frankfurt Airport. Vast, impersonal, no maps, hardly any staff and those who are present don’t seem to know what is going on. Then add in the over-priced, lousy food airside and you have a recipe for a thoroughly unpleasant way to spend several hours.
Finally, to add insult to injury, if you are travelling from Aberdeen and changing flights there, although you have not been out of airside, you have to go through security again to get to your flight. Yet coming from other European airports, they don’t seem to require this. What is Aberdeen doing wrong?

Member
Mark says:
4 July 2014

The UK has not joined the group of countries in the “Schengen Zone”, which allow travel without border controls, so a passport check is required when moving from the “outside Schengen” area to the “inside Schengen” area (or vice versa) of any airport in the Schengen Zone.

Member
Richard Cammack says:
4 July 2014

Don’t be tempted to buy duty-free spirits on the airport, if the journey will involve a change of planes. e.g. on a flight to Brazil via Lisbon, we decided to buy a choice bottle as a gift to our hosts. Then when passing through security for the second flight, guess what, the booze was confiscated! At the shop, they might have known this would happen, as we had to show boarding passes, but they didn’t warn us. Why isn’t there a warning?

Member
Mark says:
4 July 2014

In future, you should ask at the check out for the bottle to be sealed in a plastic bag, with the receipt inside (and then keep the bag sealed at least until you’re through the last security check of your trip).

Member
TB says:
4 July 2014

A few points:

Airports are there to make money. Manchester (certainly T1) is one of the biggest offenders in my view. To get to the gates from security, you are channelled through the ‘retail opportunities’ in the most indirect and indistinct route. When I’m travelling, I’m travelling, not shopping. Especially at inflated prices. At least give us a clear path past the stacks of perfumes, booze, cigarettes and tat!

At Manchester T1 you are also forced through another shopping experience on arrival (which I have never seen anyone actually use) when all you want to do is get back to the car and go home (or drive straight into the M6 Thelwall carpark).

I agree with the comment above about hand luggage. Everywhere at most airports I’ve used there are signs limiting the amount and size of hand luggage allowed on board, but this isn’t enforced at check-in, on rare occasions it might be at the gate, and I’ve once or twice seen checks at the airstairs, but only on small aircraft. On the contrary, many times I’ve seen cabin crew struggling with massive bags, trying to be helpful and find somewhere for it. On business flights one is rarely charged for hold baggage so why bother? By the time you get from the flight, through immigration and down endless corridors the bags are waiting.

Talking of endless corridors, and back to Manchester, why is T1 so grubby with all the money they make from the shopping.

Gate allocation: so the odd flight gets held up, but most happen to a known schedule, day in, day out. Yet at Manchester passengers have to ‘wait in lounge’ until the gate is displayed, then there’s a mad rush. At Zurich the gate is printed on the boarding card as soon at check in.

By the way, Zurich airport doesn’t charge for plastic bags.

I’ve always wondered, too…most airports have shops selling luggage AFTER check in. What do you do with it?

And at Zurich there’s a shop selling Swiss army knives, AFTER security!

Why do I have to show my boarding pass to buy a packet of Polo mints?

I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

Member
Stephen says:
4 July 2014

There is a quick route through the retail hell at Manchester T1. Notice the ‘staff only’ route at the RHS. Stick close to that wall, ignore the designated route, and you will be through in 30 seconds.

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The general seizing of every single opportunity to fleece passengers while they are passing through and therefore ‘captive’. Lots of examples already in the posts above. Norwich airport’s ‘airport development fee’ is probably the most blatant example – I suppose they should, in a way, be praised for their openness in not pretending it’s anything other than an attempt to screw even more out of us than they’re already doing, although they might have gone the whole hog and just called it the ‘ANLETY’ (A Nice Little Earner, Thank You) surcharge?

Profile photo of John Ward
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After dismounting from a plane about a hundred yards away on the apron and queueing in the rain, in the dark, waiting to get into the barn that is the so-called “arrivals hall” at Norwich’s “International Aerodrome” I can appreciate the need for an airport development levy [£10 per adult passenger outward only] but with the impoverished range of destinations served and the limited number of flights available I think it’s going to take them a long time to save up enough tenners to make any significant improvements unfortunately. Having said that, it’s a friendly and pleasant place to travel from with fewer of the bugbears experienced at major airports so for shorter holidays we look for flights from Norwich which is close enough to be convenient at any time of day.

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Well, it’s each to their own John. Friendly enough place I agree but we switched to Luton, where they are no less friendly, passenger facilities (including the parking) are very competitively priced, they have a much wider choice of destinations, and above all try to improve their service without the ‘Ryanair-style’ approach of extracting an extra fee of £10/person – which, for a large family, amounts to a sizeable sum – over and above the price we already pay for a trip.

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Yes, we have just booked a holiday from Luton because the right combination of destination, flight times/dates, and operator became available. Always been happy with Stansted, however, which is only an hour away from home and seems to run more smoothly than most [with some long walks available for those who like an active holiday].

Profile photo of Rickenbacker_Al
Member

Yes, we have also used Stansted in the past and been fairly happy with it, although (since the subject of these exchanges is airport bugbears) I think they have recently succumbed to another irritating current money-making ploy – of preventing passengers being dropped off at the entrance by anything other than official buses? They certainly do this at Edinburgh, where a work colleague kindly gave me a lift to the terminal only to discover that the only way of doing this is via a lane in which you get charged for ‘parking’ even if all you do is wait five seconds with the engine running while someone jumps out of the passenger seat and says “Thanks, Goodbye”.

Member
The nun says:
4 July 2014

The joy of being “the chosen one” for security checks. I was asked was it alright for me to be searched, so I asked what happens if I say no the “guard” just shrugged. After the search she asked what I’d got in my trouser pocket, IT WAS MY BOARDING PASS! Hardly a danger, but then shouldn’t I have been asked to empty my pockets before she started???
I must look like a terrorist because I get chosen most times but I am a white and female and no I’m not the White Widow……………

Member
curts says:
4 July 2014

I bought a quickscan backpack to make it easier to get my electronics through security, but all the EU airports I have visited with it thus far have made me remove the laptop and tablet anyway.

Another bugbear is completely emptying your pockets for the full body imaging scanners in the USA.

Member
Nick says:
4 July 2014

I have no problem with security – all for it – but why can’t they be civil. I hate being herded like sheep by faceless autocrats, being made to feel a criminal. Why can’t they do it with a smile. We pay their wages. We support the work they have to do. Why do they have to be so officious. rant over

Profile photo of NFH
Member

This problem is a lot less in countries that use well-known government agencies (e.g. police or customs) for security (e.g. France and Italy). I find that police and customs officers treat passengers much more professionally and courteously (and vice-versa) than private security firms. This was also evident at the London 2012 Olympics, where British armed forces stood in for G4S and performed the service with extreme friendliness towards the public, even cracking jokes that would be frowned upon in an airport.

Member
Peter Brewer says:
5 July 2014

The price of food and drink are the same as London streets once you are airside in the tax free area. The profit for a captive market must be huge.
The long walks to the gates should have more moving walkways.

Member
Steve L says:
5 July 2014

Bristol Airport. The ‘improved’ terminal facilities mean they can avoid busing you to the planes.
Now you have a 10 to 15 minute walk to the gate instead. No moving walkways, no escalators. Once there, you are kept standing in the cattle pen until the sick/disabled and premier passengers have been boarded. Then, despite numbered seats there is a mad rush for the plane to ensure you can get your hand luggage in the overhead locker whilst there is still space.

Security anywhere. As an unfortunate with 2 replaced hips and 2 replaced knees I am forced to arrive at security with no watch, no wallet, no tissues, no shoes, no belt and trousers with no zips. I then set off the buzzers and go through the body search charade. Oh the joy of flying.

Member
Don Forder says:
5 July 2014

Once when you went to an airport, you were treated like royalty. Now they treat passengers like the worst form of criminal. I don’t think I have got through security at at an airport in the last 20 years without setting off the bleepers. My partner and I avoid flying whenever possible. Train is the best way, although Eurostar is getting more like flying now. My favourite way of travelling is to take a ferry and either train or self drive. Although I can see that this is not an option for some.

Member

Boarding.
I’ve yet to find an airline that has this sorted. Why not number the seats in the departure lounge and ask folk to come forward in reverse order of their seat numbers. If this still causes congestion in the aisles, than take every 2nd row and go through the seat order twice.

Member
Anthony says:
5 July 2014

My pet hate is the length of time required between check-in and departure time. I know they will blame security requirements, but airlines and airports should be competing to reduce it, not trying to force people to waste time and browse the shops. Regulators will still make sure they perform whatever tasks are deemed essential.

Profile photo of sanagmi
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My biggest gripe, above all others is the lack of courtesy by some staff at airports. I think the US is by far the worst here, but they are by no means alone.
Security guys, completely untrained, and going through the motions as they were instructed, rather than using common sense, who order the removal of clothing as if one is in prison (and why be discourteous there either?), with no consideration of the older and less agile, who pay for the privilege! Immigration staff are also past masters at this language of “stand here”, “go there”, with out a “please” or a “thank you”: after all the travelling public keeps these people in a job and yes, I am multi-lingual and I know it is not easily expressed in some languages, such as French, but it is in English. We can understand that there will be queues, the baggage rules have tightened up, but sometimes applied to the level of the ridiculous – nail clippers more dangerous than a steel fountain pen? etc. etc.
Do we have to put up with all of this? It is of course something which can easily be changed, so those in a position to change it, get a move on, please!

Member
Will says:
5 July 2014

I think the US is really variable from place to place, and day to day. In Miami we have both breezed through quickly with super-friendly and super-chatty immigration staff; another time we waited in a queue for well over an hour. New York we found to be a bit tough sometimes but then Vegas was pretty good. In Canada (Toronto) last year I got the absolute third degree. Going home to Australia is always tough, even though I am from there. If you can use the automatic gates a Gatwick then that is a breeze. But the place that is absolutely crazy is Ben Gurion Tel Aviv – you nee to allow a good couple of hours when leaving. So I thin it just varies.

Member
Will says:
5 July 2014

I used to dread Gatwick’s security area but since they upgraded South Terminal it is amazing – quick efficient, clear, and they seem to have training in being friendly. Lets hope they replicate this at other UK airports – We flew from Luton last year and their security was appalling.

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Leeds Bradford airport forces cars to be driven through the car park even if collecting or dropping off passengers; and charges for the inconvenience. I wonder if those who came up with this appalling money making scheme would be happy if supermarkets they use did this to them as customers. Pay up even if just delivering or collecting their customers.

Member
FMSawyer says:
5 July 2014

As a passenger needing mobility assistance, the worst place I have ever been (twice) is T3 @ Heathrow. I have been abandoned for lengthy periods alone on buggies, treated like an animal in the Special Needs holding area and seldom met an English speaking worker. I hate to think that many older/disabled passengers first experience of Britain is in Terminal 3 at Heathrow The contrast with the OSC run assistance at Gatwick is total. Their care for passengers like me is superb.

Member
MamaLal says:
5 July 2014

T5 at Heathrow is just as bad. We were kept there for ages and nearly missed our connection. Needless to say there is no chance for a coffee or a paper as in “Special Needs” you are stuck in an empty corridor underneath the escalators. By the time my wheelchair arrived I was stressed out at the thought of missing the plane but the staff manning the computer just shrugged. Edinburgh Airport assistance is so much better.

Member
MRE says:
5 July 2014

The single worst thing is the lack of clear signage about which security procedures are in force today – and even worse, different procedures at adjacent check points! Laptops in or out of bags? Other electronic devices in or out? Shoes on or off? Belts on or off? Pockets empty or just metal things removed? All this made worse at most airports by there only being a few seconds to prepare for the checks rather than (as at a few airports) a long conveyor for the trays so you have a minute or more to divest yourself of a potentially harmful pack of tissues.

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Manchester airport has automated passport readers for “faster” arrivals. I have seen them working once and they could not read my new passport. On one occasion I was told by immigration staff “we don’t operate those” There were several expensive-looking machines idle while queues stretched way back. Beware at Manchester if 2 large planes arrive at same time and staff are scheduled for tea/lunch/dinner break – then tough luck for arrivals. What a shambles – particularly after long flight.