- If AVSEC can't expand to cater for the number of passengers needing to be processed due to the building space provided and available to them, then I call that an AIAL issue.
Don't think AVSEC screening space is currently the issue at AKL domestic - it more seems to be a staffing issue - e.g. I've been though at some busy times with an only 3 screening lines in operation while the reset of the equipment is sitting idle and staff less.
While there do sometimes seem to be times where lanes seem empty, I feel confident in saying the amount of space is an issue too.
AVSEC, how much space do they need, what equipment will they use, will body scanners play a part, will it be auto tray return or manual (This affects space quite dramatically) will it be 100% screening for domestic flights or still the 90 seat threshold, if the latter no doubt space will have to be incorporated for the possibility of 100%.
I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, but I think we can safely bank on screening being extended to more flights - maybe not all domestic flights, but maybe all flights operating under part 121, or all flights on multi-engine turbine aircraft, or all flights on aircraft 18 seats and up. I can’t imagine them extending security to cover operations like Barrier Air or Fly My Sky, but I could imagine other regional operators (Air Nelson, Mt Cook, Eastern Australia, Air Chathams) being brought into it. That’s going to make for some interesting decisions in terms of where to locate security check-points. I imagine all the projects for the domestic terminal have been getting a through review in the past 5 weeks.
Personally I have little issue with the current set up at the domestic terminal, yes it looks a tad tired and could do with more seats but at the end of the day its simple to navigate, has clean bathrooms and is fast to move through which for a domestic terminal is adequate. I'd like to see more emphasis regarding queues put back on the passengers and in some cases their poor time management. If you're standing in a security queue for 10-15 minutes then there is no excuse to not be prepared by the time you get to the front, the same goes for the boarding queue for those using a mobile device.
I don’t know how regularly you use it, or which part of it you use mostly, but my experience has been different:
- Easy to navigate? People looking lost along the walkways to gates 34-50 is an everyday occurrence, as are people looking lost trying to find specific airlines or the arrivals area for specific flights.
- Clean bathrooms? The ones by the Air New Zealand baggage carousel are pleasant enough, but the ones by the Air New Zealand regional check-in are frequently dingy.
- Add to those points, there is simply not enough space to move around, particularly on busier days when trolleys begin stacking up across walkways, and queues stretch from the Air New Zealand and Air Chathams counters across the building with no crowd control measures in place. The walkway to gates 34-50 is cold, dingy, damp, and worst of all appallingly loud with an aircraft running alongside it. The equivalent structures in Christchurch and Wellington are a country mile better.
It is unfortunate that Auckland Airport seem intent on squeezing every last bit of life out of this terminal which has really past its best before date.
I regularly use both core sections, regional the majority of the time but increasingly the national / jet section as of late. At the end of the day it's ultimately a very subjective topic and experiences will always differ based on personal habits and travel styles, I'm a more cautious traveller in the sense that I allow plenty of time, use the way finding if necessary (most people don't tbh), have expectations that I feel appropriate to the type of sector I'm travelling on. I don't expect the airport to amuse me.
Ultimately working in the industry also greatly changes the way you think about airports and the process in general and you become increasingly aware of everything that is involved that is generally overlooked by the media and everyday travellers.
I may not have made it clear in my post, but my observations are from working there. I think there is a general understanding that the major issue is the regional gates. The place creaks under the load of passengers on a busy day. Within the last week I have seen:
- Uncollected trolleys almost blocking access past KrispyKreme
- Passengers walking out towards Gate 50 looking for the international terminal (because thy are told to follow the green line, and unfortunately the evacuation line in the regional gates is... green)
- Passengers at completely the wrong end of the the regional gates looking for their flights (with no nearby signage to be able to direct them to - the only flight list boards are at the doors, at the split by gate 47, and next to gate 46. Looking for a a gate and get yourself down to 50? You’re out of luck.
- Passengers queuing up at the regional gates for flights that aren’t boarding yet, because to someone not familiar with it the whole set up is confusing. The phrase “when can I go through to wait” is probably uttered on an hourly basis to the staff who man those gates.
It hasn’t happened in the last week that I’ve seen, but there have been more than a few instances I have been aware of of people getting onto wrong aircraft altogether.
I feel sorry for people walking along the walkway as an aircraft starts up - the noise exposure is pretty intense, worse than what I have noticed at the same type of walkway in Christchurch. At least airport staff usually have hearing protection with them.
The Auckland Airport staff responsible for the day to day operation of the place do their level best and in my experience have been very responsive where it is possible, but they are working with a hand tied behind their back thanks to the physical infrastructure they have to work with.
While I agree with you that navigating the terminal is fine with a bit of preparation or familiarity, the number of people who seem to struggle with it suggests to me that too high a level of preparation or familiarity is required.
Are the media stories labelling it “third world” (whatever the heck that is supposed to mean) or comparing it with Jewel Changi (seriously‽) over the top and a beat up? Certainly. Is there nonetheless a great deal of room for improvement to the terminal? Without a doubt.
It will be very interesting to see whether changes required for any security changes will be used as an opportunity to address some of the other issues around usability.