London Gatwick, LGW
21 reviews from the community
Review of "London Gatwick, LGW"
I was in the Royal Marines for 11 yrs. I retired to study geophysics and have been a freelance consultant since 1980. I live with my wife in West Dorset and travel through my work about 6 mths per year. I have worked in over 50 countries worldwide.
Gatwick Airport for me is a must to avoid. I last went through there a year ago and it was a disaster. I note that most of the Ciao reviews were written before the current security measures came into place, when they would have been justifyably more favourable.I hope, but doubt, that it has changed much in the last year, I don't know, because I have taken to using alternative more local airports like Southampton and Bristol, where the staff are more local and people-friendly.
No doubt I could go through Gatwick tomorrow, and if I was lucky to get the time of day right, I could sail through and wonder what all the fuss was about. My last experience put me in such a bad frame of mind from the outset of my holiday, that I won't take the risk if I can possibly avoid it.However, that said,later in 2008 I am taking a flight from Gatwick to La Palma (a new service operated by Thompson Airlines, to one of the smaller Canary Islands started in Nov 2007). I am dreading it but there is no other direct flight to La Palma from the UK at present.
Yes, we have a worldwide security problem and I support all the checks that the airport security staff carry out.But other airports in the UK and Europe (Paris CDG excepted) do it better. Unfortunately Gatwick doesn't seem to be able to cope with peak crises.
When we arrived at Gatwick Airport in the late afternoon, October 2006, there were "snake" queues in total about 500 yards long and going out of the airport. It seemed that there must have been 2000 people there without exaggeration.Whe we did finally arrive at the point where you are ushered through in to the security area, about 90 mins later, (lucky we arrived early)
the Indian gentleman immediately in front of me had a hand bag that didn't quite fit inside a crudely made box to check cabin baggage size. He was told by an abrupt male member of staff that he would have to go back to the check-in desk and check his baggage through as hold baggage. He quietly went away without a murmer, no doubt to come back and queue all over again.
There are staff contantly walking up and down by the snake queues - looking very important in their bright yellow jackets but not doing very much; surely they can check for things like this beforehand so passengers can avoid lengthy queues for nothing?Yes Jo Public can be a pain in the butt too, but these staff should be trained to deal with it, it is their job, stress or no stress.Gatwick just don't seem to be able to cope with stress
Although the time of day does matter, how are you to know in advance if your particular flight is during one of these peak periods?The other famous example of airport chaos is the flight delays, and queues of stranded passengers clogging up the entire airport through no fault of their own.
Flight punctuality does seem to have improved over the past three years, but air traffic controllers in other European countries seem to use their power to disrupt flights without warning and with insufferable inconvenience to thousands of innocent people, particularly those with children and the elderly who can least cope.Well done the British air traffic controllers - when did they last go on a go slow or general strike? I think it was many many years ago and they know they will get little sympathy from the British public unlike our continental cousins who just don't give a damn except to achieve their own selfish objectives by any means possible. The French are real experts at this - they always strike where and when it hurts most
Returning to England causes less problems for passengers unless there is a baggage handlers' strike, which are more frequent. One word of warning - anyone arriving back at around 0700 is likely to be confronted by another one of Gatwick's daily peak crises - the arrival of the trans-Atlantic flights.Being unable to land due to overnight restrictions before about 0630, I think it is, they all descend about the same time, between 0700-0800 and the airport is swarming with North Americans and progress through immigration or just progress in general is painfully slow and disagreeable.
I think that Gatport Airwick's (!) problems stem from staff shortages at peak periods combined with shift changes and also very poor training in Public Relations.I do hope that I see an improvement next year. It makes such a difference to the start of your journey, the difference between a pleasure or a nightmare.I'm sure many readers have their own horror stories to tell about Gatwick, the place is ripe for them.
Product Information : London Gatwick, LGW
Manufacturer's product descriptionAirport
Listed on Ciao since: 25/06/2000