Archives for posts with tag: Airport

Towards the north-west of Ireland is Knock Airport in the county of Mayo. It’s a handy airport for those of us on the western coast of the country, since it flies to a few UK airports and the odd holiday destination too.

It has a slightly amateurish, making-it-up-as-we-go-along feel, which I’m OK with, since it’s small and therefore you can get through to the gate quickly.

The one thing that has always irked though is the ‘development’ fee of €10, payable by everyone 12 and over leaving. It was introduced when the airport opened, and, rather like the Forth Road Bridge toll, is still there. It’s not well advertised, either by the airlines or the airport itself, and catches out a lot of first time travellers. It also leaves a poor taste in the mouth, giving you the impression that both the airport and the country is chancing its arm and fleecing you because it has you over a barrel. My mother has recently taken to presenting a bag of coppers to the counter when paying her fee. It’s about the only statement you can make, since the office staff must have skins of titanium by now.

Anyway, I was talking to some staff the other day and they pointed out that Knock receives less government support than other airports like Shannon, and wouldn’t be able to keep going without it. I didn’t know that. So, in addition to it being not very advertised, it’s not very well explained either.

If the airport worked harder to educate its passengers about the fee, many more would leave feeling more disposed to the place, and more inclined to depart from there again.

The other day I was celebrating a long weekend with my good lady, and we were in the process of using up our last day before an evening departure from the airport to get back home. We went to a cinema to see a film before driving back to the airport, filling up the hire car with fuel, returning it, and getting our flight home.

I realised after buying the tickets that the film was long, half an hour longer than I had planned. We had an hour’s journey back to the airport, in no traffic at normal speeds, except that this was going to be rush hour, in the driving rain, and on the London orbital motorway which is a complete lottery most times of the day. I like to check in for flights in good time. My wife likes to leave things to the last minute, I don’t know why. Hence the ensuing conflict. We got a refund for our tickets and got to the airport with loads of time to spare and no inclination to spend it in airy conversation.

For the record, I don’t think we would have made the flight if we’d stayed for the film. We might have, but it would have been an unpleasant journey for the guts of 2 hours. If we’d missed the flight, our kids would have had to stay another night with different families, and we would have had to take a hotel room and new flights for the following day, which were working days for us both.

Anyway, this is a recurrent marital theme that I don’t mean to bore you with, but out of this conflict emerged the following thought: why don’t airports make themselves a destination even when they’re a departure? Why don’t they market that we make a day of our departure? Why recommend we get there 2 hours before a flight when we could get their 6 hours before, take in a movie at the airport, or some bowling, or a water park, safe in the knowledge we’re already there, the car is jettisoned, the bags are checked, and we can have the holiday experience?

It’s OK to have a few shops at an airport, but surely a cinema or two or a gym wouldn’t hurt.