Monday, 18 November 2013

UK Immigration fast tracking? Another rip off for travellers.

It seems the Home Office is about to approve a paid for fast track service at UK airport immigration points and for what it's worth this kind of nonsense makes me shudder. What are they thinking of. As if we are not already subjected to ridiculous amounts of red tape at airports, now we are faced with the added insult of smug looks on the faces of people who can breeze through immigration lines just because they can afford to do so.
I have long campaigned about all the unnecessary hoops we all have to jump through at airports, from the long lines at security to the morbidly morose faces we meet at passport control. Now, don't think for one second I am expecting our security measures to be relaxed, unfortunately we live in an age when we are all potential terrorist targets so we deal with this inconvenience as part of the airport experience.
My beef is the way certain airports try to make money out of this inconvenience, and the way we get treated by security staff.
Luton Airport is a prime example. Not only does the airport charge you to simply come in and drop someone off, it positively advertises a 'security fast track lane' where you can 'beat the queues' if you fancy stumping up a fee, unless of course you are travelling in any class above economy. This is just plain greed in my opinion.
For a start, we didn't bring in security lines, the airport did, and what happens when the so called 'fast track lane' is empty? Do the staff in this lane offer to take traffic from other overflowing lanes or do they just stand around talking about the latest episode of I'm a celebrity or TOWIE?
Then there is the inconsistency. Do I remove my shoes and belt or not. Take all coins out or not. Some say yes, others say no.
Passport control is the same problem. If you are unlucky to arrive at the same time as a number of other flights then you can bet on a long line. To have to pay for the benefit of making this inconvenience shorter is simply scandalous. After all, scrapping the IRIS system of retina scans which cost million to implement was a complete waste of money, the new e-passport system is slower than Ryan Air check in, and the staff  we see here, people who let's face it are the first face a visitor to this country sees, are often miserable and aggressive.
 Instead of creating a revenue stream through by-passing  a decrepit system imposed on us in the first place, airports need to focus on improving their existing staff and processes so we can all benefit and not just the smug passengers who can afford it.
Airports have to learn, at the end of the day it their passengers who are more important than anything else.
End of rant..