Thursday, May 05, 2005

Which Airport is Worse?

I use both London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports and after an experience at Heathrow this morning I have decided that it's the London hub that takes the prize. It took 1-1/2 hours to deplane, go through immigration and find the correct bus stop for the off-airport parking bus. And I was fast-tracked through immigration and had only carry on luggage! So what happened?

First the plane had to wait 15 minutes for a free gate ( but that doesn't count toward the time spent at Heathrow as we were, in fact 15 minutes early from Calgary). Then we deplaned to find ourselves blocked by a locked door that, interestingly, had a sign over it saying "Emergency Exit". An Airbus 330-200 carries about 200 passengers so imagine the consequences of being confined by a locked door in a narrow jetway corridor should there be a fire. Eventually a man appears, blaming "them" for not having unlocked the doors earlier.

Next, the walk to immigration. Two escalators, both broken.

Immigration. For me, this was easy, but the queues for economy passengers were horrendous. And all this after a transcontinental flight. Welcome to Britain. Baggage carousels looked hectic but I didn't have to stop to investigate. Travel light whenever you can.

And so to find the correct bus stop for the car park. No pickups at Terminal 3, go to Terminal 2. The signposted route went underground and again one of two escalators was broken. Long tunnels went this way and that, visiting the tube station, the bus station and the chapel before finally emerging at Terminal 2. Which turns out to be situated right next to Terminal 3!

And so to the offf-site airport parking by shuttle bus. Total time from plane to car, 90 minutes. Total time to drive from parking to home (80 miles), 90 minutes.