Just recently, a few Posts have been put up about the concerns of missing a connecting flight at various UK airports. Having read various replies - and experienced both good, but mostly bad service when I've missed connections, I was wondering what experienced travellers have to say about it. It seems from various websites I've looked at, that many airlines do their best to make excuses, or quote the rulebook, to get out of assisting passengers with missed connections.
It would also be interesting to know what people think of service at different airports too. I have had good and bad at pretty much all of them. There are only a very few international UK airports that I haven't used - and the level of service difference has been extremely varied.
I've flown from Birmingham, Coventry (no longer used for scheduled flights), Luton, Heathrow (to NZ) and Gatwick (to Canada twice). Of the five, Gatwick is the only one I am definitely averse to as the queues were horrendously long. Birmingham has excellent public transport connections and Coventry I liked because it was (is) small, so you could arrive no more than an hour before take off, the airport being a small provincial airfield with two rooms, check-in/security and waiting.
I found your comment about Birmingham interesting. I missed my transport connection for 3 hours, while I was questioned there. The only UK airport that has held me on suspicion of an offence. The little numpty who pulled me over - convinced himself that I was carrying illegal drugs. Never have - never will. Nevertheless, not one bit of me went unsearched and he must have asked me 100 useless questions time and time again. In the end I refused to co-operate any further until I saw his boss. Eventually, after he got fed up with me and my vow of silence, his boss arrived - told the little shrimp to let me go and off I went. Pointless waste of taxpayers money all round. Never flown from Birmingham again - and won't, regardless of what bargains they've got.
I'll say that the one thing I don't like about Birmingham Airport is the slowness of the queue at immigration upon arrival. What I do like about it is that it's never taken me more than 15 mins thereafter to get my luggage and it's only a minute's walk out the front to the bus stop for local services to Coventry, which is all of 12 miles away, hence making the business case for Coventry to have its own airport somewhat redundant.
If you need to get connecting flights, you will probably have to go through Heathrow. But it is so huge and overcrowded it is truly horrible. If you are able to use Stanstead as a london airport, it is much smaller and so gets far less delays.
BA does seem to get priority at both Heathrow and Gatwick - no surprise!
Thanks Post #5#.... janesgarde. I've done all 5 London airports countless times - and out of all of them, LHR is the most shameful. The world's busiest (and dare I say it) and most inefficient international airport. Frankfurt, Schiphol and Lester Pearson put it down to the lowest form of shame.
[ Edit: Edited on 08-May-2009, at 10:23 by Redpaddy ]
I missed a connection to Manchester at Heathrow a couple of years ago because the queues for the bus to get from one terminal to another were horrendous. BA did put us on the next flight, 4 hours later, for no extra charge.
I've flown to/from Manchester airport numerous times and have experienced long queues at security going out, and at immigration coming in.
I've only had experience with Newcastle and Heathrow. Can't say much for Newcastle as it was a domestic flight in and everything was easy-peasy, the whole experience was quick and simple.
I've officially labelled Heathrow as a pain in the arse. Though I must say that I don't think much of many airports around the world as I'm too spoilt by my own.
Let's take my experience last month for example. I had a AMS-LHR-NCL flight. I flew into Terminal 5 and didn't have an immigration card as I wasn't given one on board. The staff member at the airport who was supposed to be giving info didn't know where to get them, and there was a whole bunch of us on connecting flights to Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh (bunch of Scots in kilts were in Holland for the World Cup qualifier) in 45min. I had to
1) queue to have my boarding pass checked
2) queue to have my boarding pass scanned
3) queue to have my passport stamped and to be "interrogated" by the very stone-faced customs officer
4) queue to have my photo taken (and while queueing I saw another queue forming to go up the escalator which nearly gave me a heart attack)
5) queue for a very very long time in a very very messy hall to have my hand baggage scanned. After which I had to run to my gate
6) queue to board the flight. Had to go through one station where my boarding pass was checked and photo-matched, then another one metre away where my boarding pass was scanned.
Why can't things be streamlined? It was also the same when I departed from Heathrow, there were two separate scanners for bags and shoes which I did not think saved time at all. And I was surprised how small Terminal 3 was for an international terminal, there certainly weren't enough seats for people around and many were lying on the floor.
To add to my first post I should say that I have also flown to/from Edinburgh and both Belfast airports from/to Birmingham as day trips with bmibaby or flybe. No problems at all with any of the flights or airports.
I have to say, the two airports (little between them) that I enjoy travelling out of and into the most - in the UK, are London City and Manchester.