Saturday, 2 January 2010

Airport man

I've grown to dislike airports very much. They seem to have become a cross between shopping centres and prisons.

Malaga Airport smells of disinfectant and tastes of overpriced timeshares and package tourism. Passport control is self service.

At Palma De Mallorca Airport, a bus driver who is so relaxed that he is almost a parody of a Spanish stereotype dumps us smack in the middle of the runway between two planes, so we have no idea which we have to get on. After a few minutes a very angry management type comes screeching up in his golf buggy, directs us to our plane and then tries to start a fist fight with the bus driver. The driver will not get involved and instead just shrugs his shoulders as if to say, 'I did my best here. What do you want me to do, drive people to their actual plane? Are you LOCO?!?'

At Gibraltar Airport a road runs through the middle of the runway. When a plane comes in to land traffic is stopped by a level crossing. At the Gibraltar/Spain border we are frisked to make sure we aren't carrying more than our allocated 200 cigarettes and one bottle of spirits, just in case we deny the Spanish government some delicious taxes.

Gibraltar itself is quite bizarre. The population there is very proud to be British. But then I guess that is easy when you don't have to deal with the weather and pay taxes. A quasi British high street is complete with branches of all our favourite British shops. A branch of Norwich and Peterborough Building Society has a palm tree outside. A group of people in full old style military regalia march down the street for no apparent reason. After a couple of hours I'd ran out of things to do.

At Zurich Airport you can buy luxury chocolate, cheese and gold busts of Phil Collins.

Berlin Tegel Airport is circular, perfectly formed and run with supreme German efficiency and officiousness. However, when you go though passport control there are only two places to buy water, both of which charge four euros for a small bottle.

At Birmingham Airport you pay extremely high parking fees in order to combat terrorism. Thanks Osama.

I visited all six of the above airports in 48 hours. I believe this is a record.

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