Just returned from a European fling....
I dislike this school of thought, that just because it's 'European', it's better than America.
Heathrow handles something like 60 million passengers annually, to me it seemed like 600 million. After a splendid Atlantic crossing on Virgin Atlantic, Heathrow was a disappointment, and aggravation. I am fully aware of the inherent dynamics of Heathrow, but that doesn't make the experience more enjoyable.
London-Luton, I was hoping would be a better experience, but again disappointment ruled the day. This is the most confusing airport I have ever encountered, and I have been to many! Imagine checking in for your flight, turning around and going back in the same direction you just came from! Right back through the crowds of people, shops, eateries and such.
Airlines such as Volare, which I flew, must have an arrangement with Luton to use the first available gate, rather than one pre-set location. The gate was not announced until the incoming flight had landed. This meant for me, sitting in an area I guessed (incorrectly) was the gate, only to choke on cigarette smoke. No One, and I mean no one, could tell me which gate it might arrive at. So, myself, along with the other 188 persons (all on an A320) wandered around for 120 minutes before the flight.
London-Luton is great to read about in Aviation magazines, as it does posses a lot of character (like LHR
), but character does not make the airport what I would call user-friendly.
I also flew into CAG
-Cagliari Elmas, beautiful airport! But it was just re-built in 2002. Volare boards/exits through both ends. From the time we landed, to the time I went through baggage claim, customs, to my taxi, was, 17 minutes. It was a mere 3 minutes from the time we arrived at the stand, to the time I was on the shuttle bus to the terminal. By far the quickest international exit ever. Compare to the 68 minutes at Heathrow and 35 at SFO
!!!! (I time these things, SFO
has REALLY improved)
I can't really comment on Berlin-Schonefeld, since I was mainly there for the airshow, but it seems fairly ordinary.
The international terminal at SFO
is at fault for this whole dissertation, as it was amazing. Much better than the old international terminal (now slated for renovation) at SFO
. It set my expectations way too high.
Next stop Asia....Now that's a discussion, the masterpieces that have been built there over the last decade or so, are definitely something American airports could take a lesson or two from.