Reply To: Worst Major Airport in Europe?

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I noted with some interest people’s views on Sydney Airport elsewhere in the Forum. However, I just wondered which airport folk would nominate as the worst (major) one in Europe? Brussels would be fairly high on my list.

I’ve just experienced Brussels yet again this morning (SN in Y, BRU-BHX). I’ve now the misfortune to use this route and carrier on a fairly regular basis. The combination of airline and airport is fairly horrendous.

BRU always feels extremely crowded and the lines for security are usually long (25 minutes to clear this morning). Fast Track was closed so even if I’d been in J – which I sometimes am on this route – I’d have experienced no advantage in respect of time to clear security.

The airside cafes seem to frequently operate over capacity, so there is nowhere to sit once one’s purchased the fairly extortionate coffee (having waited in line for 10 minutes to purchase it in the first place). Then, at the last minute there was a gate change which meant a very long walk (or run) at unreasonably short notice.

In fairness, arrival is a lot better in my experience, but distances are long (arriving and departing) due to the length of the piers.

At Birmingham I used the new pier which opened this week. A massive improvement and BHX really seems to be getting its act together. However, it never seems to miss a trick in terms of ripping off the passenger. It was the first (and possibly only) airport in the UK to actually make money out of the terrorist threat – it has introduced a Red Route to prevent stopping anywhere within the airport compound, and then charges a minimum of £1.00 to drop passengers off, which then rises very steeply in 15-minute increments. It is only possible to use this paid-for facility. If one is meeting an arriving passenger, and the flight is subsequently delayed, one can be hit with a significant parking bill.

Not content with this, I found that the airport has now introduced a charge for the use of baggage trolleys. I don’t know of any other UK airport that does this (please correct me if I’m wrong) and it doesn’t send a very welcoming message out to our overseas visitors. There was a Middle Eastern family in the arrivals hall this morning, collecting a lot of checked baggage, and they did not have the required pound or Euro coin for a trolley, and there are no facilities to change or withdraw money in the arrivals hall. Not a nice initial experience of the UK for them, I’m sure.

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