AIRPORTS – WORST AND BEST

November 12th, 2009 by Ravi Matah | Posted in News   1 Comment »
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An online survey had been conducted by sleepinginairports.com and Delhi has been voted as the worst airport in Asia. A worldwide survey conducted by another agency, Priority Pass, says London’s Heathrow Airport is the worst airport in the world. Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris) has been voted as second worst, followed by Los Angeles, Frankfurt airport and Miami airports. Apart from infrastructure issues, proneness to accident is the main parameter on which these airports are ranked.

I had the opportunity to visit a few of the airports and the facts are brought out here for the benefit of travellers.

DELHI AIRPORT

Delhi’s I.G.I. Airport has been in headlines for various reasons, such as airlines strike, flight delays, tyre bursts, engine catching fire and a host of other such amazing incidents. In June last year, a Ukrainian national was crushed by a bus as he was unloading his luggage at Delhi Airport. After the accident, a spokesperson for Delhi Airport said that infrastructure at the domestic terminal does not support the facility for aerobridges. Why?

In a more recent mishap, strong winds and a heavy rainfall blew off part of the Delhi airport’s Terminal 1D’s roof.

In another mishap, an employee of Delhi airport was injured when his hand got stuck in the conveyor belt due to malfunctioning of the electrical system.

As a result of the another malfunction, the aerobridge moved in a direction opposite to which it should have moved, damaging door of the plane in the process. The outbound flight from Delhi had to be cancelled after the incident. 

In yet another incident a couple of months ago, two firemen were killed and three others injured when the fire tender veered off its route and ran into a drain.

A year ago, a 12 year old girl was crushed to death in the escalator due to it’s malfunction.

On 25th Dec.2008, one Mr. Varun Bhatnagar, his wife and son Varunabh, arrived at Delhi airport from Botswana to stay for a month. They were walking down the steps from the plane when their 9 year old son, who was one step behind, fell down from the aircraft onto the tarmac as there was a gap in the staircase and the aircraft. The child,  later succumbed to his injuries.

At the ‘arrivals’ counter, the immigration staff are so sleepy that it takes them 5 minutes to compare your face with the picture on the passport.

The IGI Airport has been recently renovated with expenditure running into millions of rupees.

FRANKFURT AIRPORT

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FRANKFURT AIRPORT

At Frankfurt airport the lifts are over crowded. The airport itself is many miles long corridor with very few shops visible which makes it totally dull. On our onward journey from Delhi-Frankfurt-Seattle (Flight LH 761) we got down at Frankfurt early morning (0710).

We asked a uniformed staff as to where terminal A-53 was. He waved his hand to the left. I asked a lady official how far is Gate A 53 – she said – ‘I am standing here since morning and I am tired to tell this to everyone’. Everyone appears to be complaining about the length of the airport – QED.

After security check we were taken by a bus and dropped on the tarmac near the plane. Why are there no aerobridges for passengers boarding International flights?
 
On the return journey Seatttle-Frankfurt (LH-491), I asked a uniformed person as to where Gate B-25 was, she just waved her left hand.  Then we requested another uniformed lady to take us to Gate B 25 in the small motorised car (four seater) and she helped us. Thanks to her. Overcrowded security areas, unclear signage, slow immigration and packed lifts are some of the complaints lodged by frequent fliers at Frankfurt Airport. Toiletteries and smoking zones (bad habit areas) are hard to find.

Frequent fliers between Europe and the U.S, always complain about Frankfurt airport – rainbow tunnel and unfriendly attitude. It seems miles long and is punctuated by mountainous staircases at either end. There are two very slow elevators. The place is really annoying and has a depressing environment. The entire airport requires redesigning, re-construction and proper utilisation of vacant spaces to make it more lively.

LUFTHANSA AIRLINES

I had paid Rs. 118,142 as return fare for two tickets Delhi-Frankfurt-Seattle, which amounts to approx $ 2362.  At Seattle, we desired to postpone our return journey by a week. I was asked  to pay $ 874/- more for change to the required date by the Lufthansa Airlines office at Seattle Tacoma airport. How preposterous? Why on  earth do they  have to charge so  much more for change of date as we had already paid for the return journey?

Upon further enquiry I was told that  it was an upgradation charge. Upgrade to what? I asked – was this the extra charge for the travel in Executive class? No – it was the upgradation charge to travel on a different date by the same “cattle class” only.

Our flight (Frankfurt-Delhi) LH 760  had to depart at 1330 hrs. All the passengers had boarded the plane. Then came the announcement from the captain that the take-off is after 20 minutes. The plane actually took off after one hour – precisely at 1430 hrs – after accommodating 3-4 passengers who were loitering at the airport and landed at Delhi at 0158 am instead of at  0115.

We had requested for Indian- veg-food for the onward as well as the return journey and it did not smell good.  You will enjoy that smell for three days consecutively in the morning when you p***. If you are fortunate enough to travel Lufthansa – please get veg sandwiches for yourself and your better half made at home. Orange juice and red wine will supplement your appetite  to sustain the 20 hours flying time.

AMSTERDAM AIRPORT

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AMSTERDAM AIRPORT

On our journey from Delhi to Seattle a few years ago we had travelled by KLM-Northwest combine and landed at Amsterdam Schipol airport. The electronic sign boards at Amsterdam were sufficient to guide us to Gate E-8 and we did not have to ask directions. The people  are friendly and it is a very well laid out airport with requisite facilities and well decorated shops. There are conveyor belts on the floor (similar to escalators) which take you from one end of the airport to the other, just by standing/walking on them. The veg-food on flights was good and the airline staff courteous. The entire three miles (approx) stretch is spic and span clean, with beautiful shops and eateries all along. A very well designed and constructed airport – perhaps the best in the world.

So, choose your Airline and the airport according to your destination and wishes and – ‘happy landings’.
Ravi Matah

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One Response to “AIRPORTS – WORST AND BEST”

  1. meghana Says:

    Amsterdam airport I guess you are mentioning the schipol airport.When I was there no doubt i also have a very good experience of the airport and the dutch people.

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