Another Horrible Airport

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Recently I attempted to make a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.  This is mostly complete but I was surprised by how few travel related items there are.  When I was younger travelling was the thing I longed to do.  And I know, that compared to many, I travel a lot but in many ways it has lost both its fun and mystery.

This morning I was in Schiphol airport in Holland.  I arrived in a mess of people all trying to get boarding cards in an area where they were checking in flights for 12 airlines.  When I finally got a machine it couldn’t find my reservation.  So, I went and queued for a desk only to be told it was the wrong desk.  I could go on but that would nearly be as boring as the hour I spent sorting everything out.

I finally arrived at the gate where they carry out a security check.  I wanted to take off my boots – as they make the machine beep – but they didn’t want me to do this.  After I beeped they wanted to do a body check.  This was really unpleasant.  They girl actually ran her hands all over my chest and then checked under the wire of my bra!  No-one has ever done that before.  And to make it even more uncomfortable the people sitting waiting to board were watching her do this.

It’s gotten to the stage where I really dislike airports.  I have started to dread going to them.  Not surprisingly this is putting me off travelling.

Travel Planning

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

It’s nearly 2009 and I’m starting to plan my conference travel.  I need to find a balance between conferences I want to go to and realistic amounts of travel.  I am tempted to attend Frozen Perl at the start of February.  I’ve read the schedule, looked at hotels, the city, and even checked the price of flights.  But I will be travelling in January and the conference is much too close to my return to Tokyo.  It would exhaust me to go.

I really like living in Japan but it’s so far away from most of the conferences I want to attend.  I have actually fallen asleep at conferences because I was suffering from jet-lag.  I didn’t expect it to be so difficult for me to travel when I moved here but I am going to try to be realistic in my future travel plans.

I will attend YAPC::NA and YAPC::Europe.  I will probably attend YAPC::Asia but at the minute I’m not sure when it will be or if it will be in Tokyo this year.

Yet Another Annoying Airport Experience

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

I am sitting in the Aviance lounge in Birmingham airport as I am flying to Belfast today to visit family.  My day started badly with a mix up over time zones and meeting times which meant I had to rush to get to the airport at Copenhagen on time.  The flight out of Copenhagen was uneventful and I arrived in Birmingham at around 10am.

At that time I tried to check in for my afternoon flight.  I was told this wasn’t possible as my flight wasn’t departing until just after 3pm and they had nowhere to hold my luggage.  I was disappointed by this as I had paid for lounge access as I knew that I would be in the airport for hours.  As I couldn’t get to the lounge without checking in I went and found a seat and finished a book. (That description really doesn’t highlight how difficult it was to find a seat).

Just after 12 I went to check-in again.  As I was walking down to the check-in desk I realised that the airport was really full of people and that the queue for security stretched right back to the food court.  I hadn’t seen the airport that busy since the beginning of the “flying with explosive liquids” scare.  Things didn’t improve when I got downstairs.  It was really hard to even see the check-in desks with the number of people standing around the airport.  I finally managed to get across the terminal to the desks and joined a queue that was more than three times the length of the one I had queued in earlier.  It took more than 30 minutes for me to make it to the desk but thankfully this time I could check in.

I then had to go and queue to get my lounge access and priority track security pass stamped.  I have to admit that I am really pleased that I had the pass to get through security quickly.  I only had to wait about twenty minutes to clear security whilst I am sure that some people had to queue for around an hour and a half.  These additional services cost me 17.50 GBP and it may have been worth that for the priority security alone – which is just as well really as it really isn’t worth it for the lounge.

The lounge isn’t very big and isn’t very impressive.  It does have free drinks and maybe if I drank alcohol it would be better value for money.  There are cheese and onion crisps and biscuits to eat but these don’t appeal.  At the minute there is only me in the room but it’s not overly peaceful because the airport announcements can still be heard but at an annoying volume where you can hear them but not make out a lot of details.  There is a TV showing the Olympics and a phone on the desk of the receptionist that seems to ring every five minutes.  (I think the phone is annoying me partly because I’m tired and don’t cope well with background noise and also because the receptionist sounds like he is having a lot of fun chatting to his mates. Actually he is now sitting with a can of coke on a soft chair in front on the T.V. and is channel surfing…)

It has wifi as I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting to pay for this.  It costs 6 GBP per hour.  The other thing I wasn’t expecting was that I can only stay in the lounge for a maximum of two hours!  If my flight it delayed I will have to leave the lounge and go and wait in the main terminal.

None of the things that have gone wrong are that bad and my experience through the airport has certainly been better that the experience of the passengers waiting in the horribly long security queue.  But all the small things combined have made me feel irritable and grouchy.  Here’s hoping the flight isn’t delayed.

Narita – My Favourite Airport?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Flying from the North Wing of Terminal 1 in Narita airport can be incredibly hassle free. Today I managed to get off the train, check in, and go through security and immigration in under half an hour. The airport is clean, spacious and air conditioned. Sitting at the gate is so comfortable that I haven’t bothered to try and find the airport lounge I can use. If only all airports could be like this.

Website Woes

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

I tried to make an online payment to my UK pay-as-you-go phone. As I haven’t used this in a while and my credit card had expired. I followed the link to amend payment, put in the new details are was told that something had gone wrong, they didn’t know what, but maybe I could try again in a few days!

I then tried to check my seat assignment with Virgin Atlantic as I occurred to me that Marty and I may not have seats together. But I can only do this up to 24 hours before the flight. I can’t actually think of a good reason why I can’t still update my seat but at least they could have shown me what seat I have been assigned.

I then thought I would have a quick look at the website for the Portuguese Perl Workshop but this wouldn’t load for me. I would find it hard to live without the Internet but sometimes it drives me mad.

(I’m only blogging because the sink has blocked up and I can’t finish washing the dishes. I had thought that using the computer for a bit would help me feel less stressed. It hasn’t worked.)