|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 20/04/2008 : 17:08:06
When we arrived at the airport to go home we instantly knew we would never get lost in there. The check-in area was, to say the least, cramped. Queues for the low-cost desks spilled outside the main doors onto the concourse, and shouts of ‘ooh’ and ‘ouch’ resounded as queue bound travellers’ ankles were caught by the trolley case wheels of others who were trying to squeeze between them.
As usual we had arrived much earlier than was really required, but that’s us, we’d rather ‘be there’, and of course we were quite eager to get home after our seven day disaster so we thought we may as well make the first move as soon as breakfast was over.
In the way of entertainment, there was a big fat nothing whatsoever. There was ONE, yes ONE shop and it wasn’t open yet. It wasn’t that early – 9.30 to be precise. I could see yesterday’s papers in there, as well as a few standard gift items like pencil cases and notebooks adorned with pictures of fluffy kittens.
There was a cafeteria, but it appeared the staff who manned it were yet to arrive, and the rubbish leftover from the day before was yet to be cleared. So we gave it a miss.
We waited for what seemed like a day and a half but was actually an hour, from time to time wandering over to the shop which was now open but still without today’s papers, and watching the queues grow even further away from the other desks. Anyone turning up at the front doors would have to get their cab driver to turn round and give them a lift to the end of their line. Boy we were bored.
At last our desk opened and we found ourselves effortlessly breezing through security, eager to get to the other side where we were convinced there would be something more substantial to amuse ourselves. Some food perhaps. Maybe somewhere to buy a newspaper and a handbag.
‘Is this it?’ we both said in unison. Surely not. There must be more to it than this.
But you’ve guessed it, this was it. A mere room with a view ... of a runway.
It was simply a hall with some doors out onto the tarmac.
There was an exceedingly small canteen run by one woman. She manned the till, refilled the shelves, cleaned the tables – and managed to fix the coffee machine by shouting at it in a really frightening way.
What else? A perfumeria; a tiny souvenir ‘shop’ that could only accommodate two children or one adult at a time, and a place that sold handbags and scarves. Handbags and scarves that weren’t to my taste. By this time Kevin was getting desperate for his daily read of The Sun. But try as I might, I couldn’t find a paper vendor in this ridiculously tiny place. I even checked all two hundred and fifty vending machines, but nothing.
We were called to ‘door 2’ when our plane was ready to welcome us on board. Door 2 was literally squeezed in between door 1 and yet another vending machine. Our boarding passes were checked and we followed a pointing finger out into the wind, where we were literally on the tarmac with not a fluorescent jacket-clad guide in site. All 100-or so of us looked around, wondering if we were supposed to be making our own way to the plane – which was a good ten minute walk away - or whether we should be waiting for someone to lead us there. After shuffling about for five minutes, our question was answered. ‘Come!’ cried the walkie talkie man in an impatient tone. So we did, and boy did it take some keeping up with him, especially in my heels.
The flight home left bang on time and was going well. We were very comfortable indeed spread out over three seats on this far from full plane.
Putting our watches forward we commented on the fact that we would be home earlier than expected and talked about how we were looking forward to not being wind beaten every day.
Until we got to Gatwick. We’re up there, going round and round and round. Having had a couple of glasses of vino, this wasn’t doing us much good at all. Everyone knows that going round and round over your airport means something’s up. What a surprise. So what was it to be? Too much wind to land?
‘This is your captain speaking. I’m afraid there’s a bit of a problem’.
Great. And? ‘The plane ahead of us landed with no hydraulics which meant it couldn’t turn round, so it had to be escorted off the runway.’ Oh well, not so bad. Then he continued, ‘Unfortunately the runway is covered in hydraulic fluid and it’s too dangerous to land.’ Dear oh dear.
Then he hit us with something that really topped it all off. ‘Due to having been circling for some time, we will shortly be running low on fuel, and may have to land at Luton.’
Wonderful. We've been to hell and back and now we're being ejected into the epitome of crappy London airports. Our cab driver is sitting at Gatwick happily awaiting our return. How the hell do we get home from Luton?
After 10 minutes of expletives and finally cracking and taking it all out on the back of the seat in front , the captain told us all was now well and we're landing at Gatwick after all. Cheers for that, suppose he thought it was funny.
Our cab driver asked us if we’d had a lovely time. ‘Where do we start?’ we growled. I don’t think he’ll bother asking in future.
|4 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 30/04/2008 : 15:49:55
Same here June, flying to Tossa and Alicante or anywhere within a couple of hours is just enough for me.
||Posted - 29/04/2008 : 10:32:30
We'll not be going there then, as I hate flying and only do it to get to Tossa quickly!
||Posted - 29/04/2008 : 10:16:03
Sorry-been away to Istanbul for a long weekend-great time, superb sights,good food and wine.
Put it on your wish list.
Smallest airport we have flown into was at Ngapali on the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar (Burma)
We caught a Air Mandalay ATR72 from Rangoon for the 45 min flight. You come in over the mountains and jungle and fly out to sea before turning for your approach over the surf through a gap in the palm trees.
The strip was built by the British in WW2 and is a single narrow piece of tarmac with sea at one end and the jungle at the other.
As soon as the wheels touch the engines are rammed into reverse and the brakes are applied as the runway lenth is VERY short!
There is no ATC - just a guy in a tiny tower(the size of a container on end) with a radio,binoculars and a large triangle which he strikes when the plane approaches , this is to warn locals and cattle to clear the runway.
Arrivals/Departures is a single storey prefab with no facilities other than a row of Burmese to check your hand luggage a few seats and , a metal detector gate you walk through - but it is not plugged in!
Luggage handling is by push cart to the entrance and a tip is expected ,normally 500 chats , about 20p.
Everything is manual - hand written tickets , luggage tags and all is written down in triplicate in large excercise books.
But we love it - great experience , lovely people and country (but awful politics)
BUT as Margaret Thatcher said " If you didn't agree with the politics of a Country , you would probably not even cross the Channel"
Will sent photos.
I am sure there are smaller landing strips but this was the smallest we have flown into.
||Posted - 28/04/2008 : 20:06:05
So come on Geoff & Val, what's your take on the smallest airport in the world?