Thursday, December 11, 2003

Caracas Airport - Maiquetia

Caracas is located up a mountain - I've not been there yet, but I am told it's "up there" at the end of a freeway with tunnels through three mountain chains. The airport is at sea level in a place called Maiquetia. This post is about Maiquetia. As the main gateway to modern Venezuela, the airport looks much like any other large airport. Lots of unfinished concrete and tiles, uncomfortable chairs, taxi touts and petty crime.

The other day I met a man who had lost his luggage while standing in line at the check-in counter. A team of two worked him over, one distracting while the other walked off with a carry on bag containing passport, wallet, laptop, etc. Welcome to international travel, it's oh so glamorous (or so those who don't travel think!)

Then there's the situation where a man offers to take you through a back passage in order to avoid security. I had this offered to me at the domestic terminal but a colleague reported the same activity at the international terminal.

Airports could do so much to improve security, particularly for strangers. Deciding to become better informed, I asked a fellow passenger what I should do if the car sent to meet me wasn't there. Simple, he said, avoid the taxi touts and look for an official black taxi in the form of an SUV. So why doesn't the airline and the airport make this information readily available? I can't believe the taxi touts have the backing of a powerful union.