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Luton - 3rd World Airport

Old 14th Sep 2009, 21:16
  #1 (permalink)  
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Luton - 3rd World Airport

Having managed to avoid Luton for 20++ years, I had to come back though it earlier today.

I've been very rude, justifiably in my view, about LHR T4 and LGW, both of which herd their unfortunate customers into a badly designed, badly lit and badly run waiting area before struggling through the "UK Borders" channels. (For balance, I've also been complimentary about T5).

But, the 30+ minutes it took in the queue from the arrival pier to the Immigration desk at LTN gave me ample opportunity to reflect on an airport management so bad that it apparently thinks that this kind of dreadful facility is acceptable. Dear God, it makes even the BAA look professional.

I have been to over 200 airports in my career, spanning 30 years, mostly in the Middle East, Africa and various ex-USSR Republics, and I've never seen anything quite so bad; a kind of jerry-built tunnel with, today at least, some 600 - 700 people crowded into it, then the usual stupid maze to walk though, presided over by something that really frightens me, semi-trained coppers toting sub-machine guns and trying to look tough. (What in hell's name do they think they would do with those weapons in that situation? Start a fire-fight? God help us all.)

The comments from all around were in many languages, but the general astonishment that such a place could exist in the UK, a country many of its visitors still admire, was evident. The comparison with some of the worst in the world isn't mine alone. I heard many people make it to others in their groups, speaking French, Polish, German, even Arabic.

If I were in charge at Luton I would resign in shame that I preside over such a disgraceful shambles.

There's no necessity, if anyone were prepared to spend some of the profits. Even if the whole shambolic edifice cannot be torn down, there's enough space between the present UK Borders comb and the baggage reclaim to double, even treble the through-put rate and reduce the queues dramatically.

The management that couldn't give a toss about this situation is of course the same management that tries to charge £1 to use a trolley; luckily an employee pushing some of these through the hall saw the sense in allowing people who had disembarked some 50 minutes earlier to grab one without the £1. It's not the £1 that matters, it's the fact that few visitors land with £1 in their pocket. Ah yes, there's a convenient money exchange bureau right there; anyone ever check their x-rates?

Did I say 50 minutes? Wasn't the delay to UK Borders 30 minutes? Right, but the baggage carousel broke down, didn't it. What else would you expect in this 3rd world, badly-run, rip-off shambles of an airport?

And for God's sake lose the armed police; if they were to get over-excited it would be bloody carnage.
Capot is offline  
Old 14th Sep 2009, 21:31
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I've never flown from Luton, but i know that armed police are present in most airports in the country.
As for the comments about immigration, shouldn't your complaints be directed to the UK Border Agency, who provide the staff. Not the airports.
I'm sure it would just mean another thing they could tax us for!
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 21:42
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Armed police terrify me in any airport, or indeed in any crowded situation...for the same reason. If they actually use their weapons they'll cause a massacre of the innocents, not just one Brazilian.

The only time I have seen an armed attack on an aircraft at an airport (in the Middle East) the numerous armed police slowly and carefully put their weapons down, thus saving the lives of several hundred people. Would the UK Police do the same? I wonder.

All the UK Border desks at LTN were manned today at the time the problems I described happened; there simply are far too few of them. That's the airport's fault, not UKBA's.
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 22:55
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Calm Down Dear

Luton could do with investment in its infrastructure, but so could every uk airport. It won't happen soon.
It could have more desks for immigration, they would probably not be staffed.
As for queues at immigration have you been to Bangkok?

This is the UK today. We don't like it but nothing's going to change soon if ever

As for the armed police, I would much prefer that they stay and if I die in a hail of bullets, so be it.

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Old 15th Sep 2009, 03:39
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It won't happen soon.
What will happen soon, if it has not already, is the UK's slide into second world status.

I say this with no joy, as an expat with no plans to return.

It is becoming a disgusting country in many respects and the passive acceptance by the population is surprising - where has the self respect gone?
Old 15th Sep 2009, 06:35
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Today 05:39 Final 3 Greens
What will happen soon, if it has not already, is the UK's slide into second world status.
I doubt that, as the first and second worlds in the original quote (by a French journalist, apparently) were the Western and Eastern blocs.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 07:05
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As for queues at immigration have you been to Bangkok?

Try Manila
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 07:46
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It Won“t Happen Soon

Entirely agree with you three greens, as an ex pat myself having to return to the UK only occassionally fortunately now it is an absolute disgrace. A total rip-off, hardly anybody speaks English with an English accent. Not the place I grew up and spent many happy years working and bringing up a family. No more though, the place is an absolute shambles (i.e street in York where I grew up!). When you travel through Europe without hardly any hassle and freedom of travel (no borders) then get to the UK BORDER - what Europeans think I cannot imagine.
Unfortunately this UK BORDER thing was introduced far too late to try and keep the illegals out and why they want to go there defeats me - talk about shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 08:04
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C3B....absolutely correct.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 09:56
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Luton - 3rd World Airport

capot, a major rant there but I don't see how it is justified. I've flown via LTN many times, albeit on holiday, and never had a problem.

The last time I flew to/from Luton was to Larnaca in May and was surprised how quick the check in and immigration was on our return.

As for the armed police, that's a sign of the times and I would rather have trained armed officers walking around opposed to some terrorist with a back pack.

Far worse airports out there, trust me
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 10:31
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ericlday Today, 10:04 #9
C3B....absolutely correct.
Sure about that Eric?
Surely the UK needs immigrants to replace the folk that have left to become immigrants in, say, the South of Spain?
BTW, I didn't notice many English accents in Glasgow last time I was there. I expect Belfast and Cardiff might be the same.

Probably getting a bit OT from the original post about Luton airport.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 11:27
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Luton 3rd World Airport

That is why Flying Frisbee a lot of people have left because there is just to many people in the UK for such a small geographic country.
Anyway back to the original point I certainly do not think Luton is a 3rd world airport been in much worse. Try Sharm El Sheik and Gibraltar for starters. As for immigration try Miami - you need the patience of Jobe there!
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 12:17
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Ummm...what is wrong with Gib airport - considering the pax that pass through? GFor me average time from check in to aircraft baording is under 30 minutes and that includes a cup of coffee or a beer in the terrace looking over the apron....with a duty free shop (yes albeit small) that is actually duty free!

What I hate about all UK airports is that they are shopping malls and when I come back into the UK the q's for immigration are far too long and despite being a UK passport holder you are required to Q for ages and it seems to me that it takes longer getting into "your country" than ever before. What would be wrong with a separate UK passport holder only Q? The other half always laughs - being an Aussie passport holder. She has in the past picked up our bags as she scoots through immigration before I have handed over my passport for the "once over".

Back on topic - yes Luton is in need of a make over.

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Old 15th Sep 2009, 13:03
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I didn't notice many English accents in Glasgow last time I was there.
What with it being in Scotland, I'd expect more Scottish accents than English anyway.

I expect Belfast and Cardiff might be the same
As would I...
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 13:27
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Mercifully, I have never been to Luton, nor its airport, and what you describe is simply awful. Let's spare a sympathetic thought for the poor souls who have to work there, day in day out.

Neptunus Rex is offline  
Old 15th Sep 2009, 13:38
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Semi trained coppers??

Having undergone AFO training in a previous life, you are doing the lads (and lasses) a disservice.

The training is no picnic and also requires requalification every quarter. And this for something we hope never to use.

How often do we resit a driving test, despite variations in our own bodies and attitudes?

For the rest, not been through LTN in a few years, but will be doing the LGW bit in a few weeks - can't possibly be as bad as Liverpool, or can it.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 14:42
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Capot - Time of day?

I ask because for the last two years I have returned from Alicante and arrived at Luton on a Saturday night/Sunday morning (midnight ish). At the same time, there are flights from Dalaman, Tenerife, somewhere else and mine from Alicante.

Everyone seems to arrive at immigration at the same time and it takes an age to clear. I think something could be done to sort this out, what it is should be apparent to the staff at the airport. It can't just happen to me when I fly, it must be a regular occurence throughout the summer. It must also be similar on other days/times too.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 15:34
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c3b I have been twice to Sharm el Shiekh in the last year and certainly would prefer it any time to Luton.

Unfortunately the B&Q style of architecture predominates too much nowadays at our airports in the UK
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 15:39
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With these large queues, there is not much that can be done if a host of aircraft all land at similar times due to some flight delays. You can't really ask pax to stay on the aircraft at the gates until the immigration queue is short enough that people won't be offended.
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Old 15th Sep 2009, 17:20
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First world vs third world

This thread implies that 1st world is better than 3rd world.

Recently I flew into and out of VNX (Vilankulos, Mozambique). My departure experience was as follows:

Due it being an international flight (to JNB) we arrived at the airport 90 minutes before departure only to be told that the check-in counter wasn't open yet. They told us we could go to the "restuarant/bar" on the roof and they would call us to check-in. We duly went upstairs and had curried prawns (fresh!) and cold beers. About 30 minutes before departure we were approached at our table and told that we could go and check in. When we reached for our drinks to finish them we were immediately told that check-in would take less than 5 minutes and we could return to our table.

Actual check in took about 1 min, then you had to go behind the counter where a large policeman asked you to open your checked & hand luggage. He then proceeded to thoroughly, but quickly (less than 2 mins) search the luggage. We then closed our own luggage and it was placed on two piles (checked & hand) behind the policeman. Passport control then took a minute and true to what we were told we were back at our table within 5 minutes. 10 minutes before departure we were again called downstairs, went through a security check, picked up our hand luggage, walked to our plane and were seated 5 minutes before departure.

Now what is better 1st world vs 3rd world!
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