Monday, September 04, 2006

Belfast International Airport - the parking's worse than the security!

Belfast International Airport ("Aldergrove") recently changed the traffic management of vehicles around the front of the terminal.

I can understand that allowing efficient passenger drop offs in front of the terminal is preferable to allowing people to sit in their cars waiting for friends and relatives off late flights. (And I would particularly understand if the airport police would help by moving on the waiting cars that are now blocking up the airport's outlying roads. The City Airport has similar problems with car park fare dodgers.)

But what is beyond me is the refusal to allow the airport parking firms like McCauslands to let their customers off in front of the terminal. They are regular services, that are constantly stopping and starting, helping the airport's increasing customer base get in and out.

Under the new system, you get dropped off in the open area before the terminal (where the taxis used to queue). But at 7am, there isn't a trolley in sight to put your bags on as no one is keeping the supply topped up. It's amazing what we piled on top of a pram this morning!

And on return we'll get to wait in the rain - no shelter - for the next bus to arrive.

I bet the Q-park customer bus from the "official" long stay car park will get better service ... despite them only "arriving at the party" a long time after McCauslands invested.

The airport depends on all the parking facilities to survive. The new process and policy may be necessary, but it doesn't go out of its way to be customer friendly - no free half hour parking in the short stay - so if you're picking up someone who lands more than 5 minutes late, you'll be paying. And the preferential treatment for their new car park partner is proving a bit too cosy.

The only other rants from this morning's trip would be the out-of-control easyJet check-in queues meandering across the entire check-in hall, and the lack of signs at the normal bmibaby check in desks to point passengers towards their new temporary desks.

The screens above bmibaby's empty desks at 1-4 were saying "All destinations" while they were actually checking folk in much further up beyond the sea of easyJet orange at 28-31. (I know that we're all meant to look at the departure board on the way in, but given the queue of 12 people waiting at the vacant desks, a better redirection notice would have been handy.)

Oh, and while the security folk seemed obsessed with the size of rucksacks - I squeezed one into the wooden box and got away with the other - they completely ignored the two Tippees of water and milk that went through the X-ray machine, and didn't get us to sample them. Though they did X-ray my 20 month old daughter's shoes, frisk her, and check her sock soles for dangerous weapons! She got away with her sharp toenails.

Rant over - for now.


Anonymous said...

I flew into Belfast Intl Last week and the system is really silly. Well I can see what they were trying to do and that there were failings in the old system (although the police actually moving people on in stead of standing there would have helped). However sending everyone into the short stay carpark wasn't the best plan. The 1st problem being that a large queue at the ticket barrier forms and 2nd that the short stay carpark cant cope with that many cars hanging around in it. Also you get the people who are waiting on flights that get delayed beyond the 15mins that are free and don't have any money to get out.

Why oh why haven't the built a train station on the line that passes the airport!

John Self said...

Yes the train situation, or lack of it, is ridiculous. When did you ever land at a capital city's main international airport and find there no train service to take you to the city centre?

Anonymous said...

some hope of ever having a rail link into Aldergrove airport, when a perfectly ngood rail line runs outside George Best Belfast City airport but the station remains a good 1/2 mile away even then you must climb a bridge to arrive at the platforms. this does create a good image of a forward thinking vibrant country. If it takes for ever to get a rail link, how long until we build a sports stadium for ALL. Ferry travel is slower but less hassle. Security is a joke. Aldergrove confiscated spare violin strings from a leading violinist recently,,seems he could have garotted the pilot . tiny brains go with these jobsworths.