Sunday 4 December 2016

Terminal frustration

Gemma O'Doherty

Published 30/04/2011 | 05:00

'Last month, on a short hop to
France, there were moments when
it felt like an airfield in rural
Kazakhstan — and that was before
we even reached the terminal
building.'
'Last month, on a short hop to France, there were moments when it felt like an airfield in rural Kazakhstan — and that was before we even reached the terminal building.'

Now that Dublin Airport has its glossy new terminal, everything should be running nice and smoothly, right?

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After all, we, the bankrupt taxpayer, forked out a fortune to fund what turned into the biggest building project in the state with a price tag of €600m.

But no, despite all that gleaming glass and state-of-the-art architecture, a trip to the capital's airport is still enough to leave you a hand-wringing, head-shaking wreck who never thought they'd see the inside of a Ryanair plane quick enough.

And heaven help you if you end up in dowdy old Terminal 1.

Last month, on a short hop to France, there were moments when it felt like an airfield in rural Kazakhstan -- and that was before we even reached the terminal building.

In fairness, the Eastern European chap driving the bus from the long-stay car park was engrossed in a heated conversation with two friends in his mother tongue as we meandered our way to the terminal.

But when we got to our first stop, which some first-time passengers may have thought was T1 when it was T2, it would have been helpful to hear the location in English.

Instead he took to the intercom in his native tongue and we were left none the wiser.

As I got off, I suggested gently to him he should really give the location of his bus in English too, but he didn't seem that bothered.

Pity, when it's people like him who are often the first to welcome tourists on to Irish soil.

Inside T1, Sky News was blaring from a TV on the ceiling, frazzling the brains of confused travellers searching for their check-in desk.

It had the feel of a noisy sports pub on a cup-final day, not a modern airport focused on the needs of its passengers.

You could barely hear yourself think, not to mind find out where your plane might be taking off from.

We traipsed off towards security only to be told by a brusque member of staff that the line was closing and we would have to queue at another security line on the other side of the terminal.

This second entrance comprised one small door, nothing more, wholly inadequate on a busy Friday morning, but there was nobody around to explain why.

To be fair, even the most experienced travellers feel addled at the airport.

Did I pack the teabags? Is the dog sitting on the driveway instead of the kennels? Shoes on or off at security, and will my favourite tweezers make it through the X-ray?

These are the questions that torment our minds as we're herded from A to B like sheep.

We should not have to deal with extraneous ones such as what's the Polish/Slovak/Czech for Terminal 2, where is the volume button for Kay Burley's mouth and why oh why has security suddenly shut up shop for the morning?

With all this sort of carry-on to contend with, it's little wonder Dublin Airport performed abysmally in a new passenger satisfaction survey ranking the world's major airports.

Coming in at a disgraceful 98th place, just ahead of Calcutta, it ranked one place above Heathrow and came lower than Athens, Humberside and Malta.

It's a far cry from San Francisco airport's new terminal, which seems to have been built with the passenger in mind. Mood lighting is used at check-in to help passengers relax, and there are 'recompose' areas just after security to get them over the ordeal of being frisked, and losing their favourite tweezers.

There are also fountains (pictured) which provide chilled water, and the food comes from local markets, so it's fresh and healthy, not like the tasteless rubbish doled out at our main airport.

Still, at least we have a lovely glass monument to remind us of that old moggy who used to stalk the land.

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