arbitrary stuff that comes to mind: whenever I feel like thinking aloud

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Airports: here's what I hate about them, and especially Cape Town Airport.


The time
If ever there was a place where time is important, it's at an airport. So naturally there are no big clocks at airports. Instead, there are zillions of screens stuck in high places. The time? It's somewhere at the top right in the smallest letters possible.

So to see the time you get off your seat, walk up to the screen and peer. Leaving all your valuables behind. Ah, I see you thinking: "You've got a watch haven't you? You've got a cell phone haven't you?".

Blah blah blah. Getting at that stuff isn't always that easy at an airport. Sometimes it's downright impossible. And sometimes your battery is running low, so you switch the thing off. And sometimes the battery life is completely gone - and that's that.

The walk: Cape Town Airport.
Now, if there's one thing that you do a lot of at an airport, its walk. And boy oh boy, hasn't Cape Town Airport raised walking to a new art!

Especially if you have just dropped off a hire car.
Never mind that you drive through the middle of all the cars dropping off passengers, or taking on passengers, and of course the cars coming out of the parking garages:  nor the fact that the rental agencies are put as far as possible from the departure lounges (so you have to walk the full length of the airport with all of your luggage through the departing passengers, and through the parking garages). Forget about all of those for the moment, and go upstairs to the departure lounge.

Once you have collected your ticket, you walk to the center of the departure area, where they have thoughtfully put both the international and local queues right bang next to each other. Think about that for a moment. Everyone saying goodbye, everyone leaving, ALL packed into a tiny area not more than 20 m long.

Great planning there, airport authorities.

The coffee
And what do you see when you get to the other side? Well now: the refreshment area is placed at the furthest distance from where you enter the final departure lounge. Want a cup of coffee? Walk the full length of the departure area, and then all the way back to your departure exit.

Great planning there, airport authorities.

But wait, there's more.

The laptops.
The rule is, the laptop must go through the scanner separately.
That's fine, except you have to get the damn thing out of your luggage, and put into a tray along with all of the stuff in your pockets: cellphones, wallets, coins, anything that is made of metal.
There is no easy way to do this.
Getting it into the trays is easy compared to putting it all back together again.
After you've been through the scanner the tray arrives with all your stuff in it, and all the passengers behind you with their stuff piling up too. And the tiniest of tiny little areas where this lot piles up.
So you stand there stuffing your laptop back, desperately putting all the bits and pieces back into your pockets, while the queue keeps spewing more and more people and the machine spews more and more luggage.

Great planning there, airport authorities.

The elderly, the disabled, the pregnant ladies, and those with kids ...
who, of course have to walk the walk.
Cape Town International had done their level best to make their lives as difficult as they possibly can. Because all of that stuff up there, it's 1000 times worse for them

Yes, congratulations. Airport of the year?
Not in my book, they ain't

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