Of airports and airlines.

I fly a lot – into, out of and around the UK. My favourite airport by a country mile is Cork which is friendly and efficient. I enjoy departures from there (this evening I am off to Newcastle) and above all I look forward to returning home, unfortunately not until late next Monday evening.

My least favourite airports in the UK are Edinburgh, badly designed, unfriendly and uncomfortable, Manchester where the leaky walkways, and the miserly limit of 60 minutes free wi-fi (increased from 30!!), speak volumes but it is Stansted which for dedication to giving travellers a hard time leaves everywhere else in their slipstream.

The last time I was there (Saturday June 2nd) I was amazed to find that they have not only found a way to make the queues for security even longer and more unpleasant but are actually boasting that they are #5TimesFaster – a hashtag that is surely an invitation to tweet about how poor the experience was.

The shock of being shouted at by a hoarse, bleached blonde because you had the temerity to put your toiletries in a plastic bag (clearly sealed and the correct size) that was not Stansted standard issue was overwhelming to a couple of non-English speakers. The old trick of shouting even louder to get your point across didn’t seem to help.

When a couple of people remonstrated with an overseer that the man who was organising their belongings for the security scans had been downright rude were reassured with, “that’s just his way, he’s got a heart of gold really”.

There has clearly been a lot of money spent on developing Essex’s gateway to the world, unfortunately taking the Ikea aisle approach means a meandering shopping centre where speed of transit is governed by the slowest plodder. What they haven’t done is to increase the numbers or comfort of seating, the only empty seat I could find was just outside the lavatories. Yet again on Saturday there was no wifi either in the airport “lounges” nor in Starbucks where I finally sat myself.

The doubly whammy of Saturday was the fact that I was flying with Ryan Air – I won’t go on at length they’re too easy a target. They have now introduced another innovation – putting your bags in the hold. Unless of course you pay a premium and then can take two bags on to the flight. This replaces the old system of only letting the first 90(?) people on with their cases which led to long queues, anxiety and aggression. None of these ranks anywhere close to their past policies of “first come, first served” for seating where my wife was told that if she and our three year old son were seated 20 rows apart that was just tough.

One of the problems with putting so much baggage in the hold was they had failed to factor in the ground staff. We boarded on time, were welcomed on board then were told that we were third in line to have the baggage loaded. After 40 minutes on a very hot and uncomfortable evening they told us that the bags were now all on but we had missed our “push” so the 20.35 took off at 22.00 the time that it had been scheduled to land.

Bloomberg has published the best and worst airlines and airports of 2018. In the bottom 10 airports come Edinburgh (134) and Manchester (136) but the penultimate in the list at 140, just above Kuwait International, comes Stansted.

Carriers are headed by Quatar, Lufthansa and Etihad, in 67 from 72 comes Ryan Air, Michael O’Leary you clearly have more work to do there are still 6 below you!

How to protect yourself from unwanted customer feedback….

There is a PS to this story which I’ll put here. Expedia did make contact with me after my comments and were sympathetic and understanding about the problems that were caused by American Airlines. (Just saying, “I am so sorry to hear what you went through was a great start”). I am now attempting to get American Airlines to listen to my feedback.

I described the problems of my  journey from Phoenix to Dublin with a couple of travelog postings on Facebook. I am fully aware that stuff happens, what makes the difference is how the provider of a service deals with problems. American Airlines were poor, it felt like they didn’t care about their customers. British Airways picked up the discarded baton and it felt like they did care.

Expedia sent me an email yesterday at 00:53 which I received when I was eventually on the ground with another flight to come – this time unplanned.

Here’s the email:

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Here’s what happens when you click the red face.

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Smart deduction guys…but how do I leave feedback?

No policy for cancellation except no refund.

I needed to cancel a couple of flights with RyanAir – I knew that I wouldn’t get any refund but I thought I would let them know – as you would, wouldn’t you? Thankfully they have a chat facility on the internet with which it is difficult to get cross, but they do their best to provoke….

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Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.23.52…and here’s a gratuitous picture of RyanAir CEO Michael O’Leary…just for the sake of it.

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