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Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

Oct 29th, 2006, 03:39 AM
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Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

I reckon its got to be!
Arrived at terminal 4 around 7am yesterday morning.We had left Auckland on Friday at 2.15pm for Sydney, then onto Singapore for a 1 hour stop, back on the plane to London where we had to change to terminal 1 for an internal flight.
What were we met with? Some woman shouting at us telling us to get in line. It was like we were prisoners!!! Then followed a long queue for a bus to change terminals, a very full bus that we struggled to keep our balance as the driver whizzed round the corners and shoved on the brakes. Then it was into a sweating hot building again and the glaring customs people,followed by the dreaded security. The queue wasnt too bad at that time of morning, but the security people were bad tempered and growled at us to get our shoes off. We had forgotten about the shoes off business as we had been in quite a few airports since leaving the UK over a month ago and were never asked to take shoes off anywhere else.
Every other airport we passed through, we were impressed with the friendly staff and nice environment.
Welcome to Britain? Huh!!! What must our visitors think!
carylspall is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:39 AM
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Your visitors think pretty much the same way that you do! After the long overninght flight it is always a rude awakening to disembark at Heathrow. The employees are just downright nasty! I understand that with all of the currnet security issues they must present a picture of firm unity against terror--but would a little common courtesy be out of order?Whenever possible we try to fly into Gatwick, they just seem a little friendlier there.
Poconolady is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:59 AM
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Sorry, I disagree. Arrived at Heathrow late September and other than the rather LONG walk to Immigration where I found the officials to be very pleasant and the much shorter than expected wait for luggage to come off this has to have been one of the least stressful arrivals I've ever experienced.
Dukey is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 05:17 AM
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we flew into heathrow about 6 months ago and my 10 year old son became sick on the plane,..proably motion sickness but carried his vomit bag with him.... and used it as we waited in two hour lines for this and that...
Most of the staff there were very nice and helpful. But, we encountered a few of the most rudest people i have ever seen ever,...ie - As we went through Customs I was interrogated endlessly, rudely of Why I was visiting. I was asked in 10 different ways as if doing this would "trip me up"..
The customs lady looked about 20 years old and was so rude to my son carrying his vomit bag. She just did not understand. I asked if she wanted to confiscate it from him and we would just have to take a chance..We had a people behind me shakig thier heads in disbelief!
But, there were staff who were so helpful and kind as well,.. especially those guiding the herds of people not knowing what bus to go to or what terminal to catch their connection etc..
When we arrived in Edinburgh airport though I felt a sense of calm there. All my luggage was lost in London and the staff at Edinburgh's airport were extremely kind and helpful.

Heathrow - it is what it is!!!!
annesherrod is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 06:01 AM
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Sorry to disapoint you ;-) but Heathrow is playing un the junior league when it comes to unpleasant airports, just try Cheremetyevo (not to mention JFK where the 1st thing you ave to do is to be greeted by the photo flash in the eyes and having to give your firgerprints)
norween is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 06:28 AM
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It's very different when you are the alien.
JFK is appalling. Nobody minds security, but do they have to talk to you as though you are a dog?
Josser is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 10:49 AM
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Anyone who's ever tried to use Tashkent, or arrive at Saigon from an overseas flight, will know what unfriendly airports really feel like.

But, even in the civilised world, there are lots of airports - all of them, by definition, far less busy than Heathrow - that make LHR, even at its worst, feel like one huge VIP lounge.

America's entire airport network for example. Fingerprints and photographs mandatory for practically all foreigners. And airside international connections now completely impossible.

If carylspall had taken the shortest routs from Auckland to LHR on Air NZ he or she would have experienced at LAX what real dedication to pissing off passengers is all about.

And in what must now be getting on for around a thousand arrivals at British ports, I've never, ever, seen "glaring Customs people". In fact, I can count the number of times I've seen a Customs officer at all on the fingers of little more than my and Mrs F's hands.

However, I can't remember a single occasion either when, after a two-stopper from NZ, I was anything other than fit to bust. After a 30-hour flight (especially when it'd only have been 23 hours on Air NZ), any airport gets you crotchety.

Memo for the future: Singapore onestop from Auckland to Amsterdam, then whoever to your provincial airport.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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I think Heathrow does have a few rudeness points (if there is a competition) over the fine folks at Sheremetyevo... As I speak Russian and English, I can make a fair comparison. At Sheremetyevo, they can be brisk, but I've never seen rude... Heathrow is a much nicer airport, building-wise. The employees could use some work!

katya_NY is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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Well Flanner, if you don't like American airports (or anything else American as far as I can tell) there are plenty of other countries to visit.

Personally, I haven't found LHR to have rude employees but I haven't been through there since the latest security scare.
Carrybean is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 01:57 PM
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I wouldn't enjoy being fingerprinted and photographed when I travel to Paris, where I like to go. I've been through Heathrow and had a less than pleasant experience, but I think the worst experience I've had has been in Chicago.
opaldog is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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To me LHR is no better and no worse than any other airport in the world in terms of friendliness. My only complaint is that LHR is so big and it takes forever to change terminals. So if there's a choice, I usually go for LGW. If there's not a choice, then I don't lose sleep over having to use LHR.
P_M is online now  
Oct 29th, 2006, 03:02 PM
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Saigon rude? Not when we flew in - brisk and poker-faced, but no worse than that.

And maybe we just chose the right US entry point a few weeks ago, but despite our forebodings we found formalities at SFO matter-of-fact and polite. We answered a few questions, werefingerprinted and photographed (not a particularly intrusive process), breezed through Customs and were on our way.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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I felt the rudest I'd experienced was at Newark but Boston has easily eclipsed that now, whereas Newark were much friendlier the last time I went through. In other words it depends on the staff, their ego and demeanour which will change from day to day and airport to airport.
henneth is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:19 PM
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You have obvoiusly never been to St Pet.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Don't confuse Homeland Security (how's that for an oxymoron) and their governmental ilk in other countries with airport employees.

BAA is a scandal, top to bottom, and have taken LHR from a place I used to enjoy to one that I will spend extra funds and time to avoid.

I'm not alone. Read some of the comments from some BA frequent flyers (mainly homers) here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=608204

Of course others may have different opinions.
Gardyloo is online now  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:26 PM
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The rudest I've ever experienced was last March at DFW. I know all the Texan fodorites will find this hard to believe - but the security staff at Dallas were awful and "out-ruded" LHR by a mile. Surprised me for sure . . . .
janisj is online now  
Oct 29th, 2006, 04:30 PM
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janisj, as a Texas Fodorite I can believe that customs agents anywhere can be rude, even at DFW. Of course, the next time you come through TX, you might have a completely different experience.
P_M is online now  
Oct 30th, 2006, 05:28 AM
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Yes, Flanner (as usual) and Norween-Gardyloo is absolutely right- DON'T CONFUSE OR CHANGE THE SUBJECT -, measures to keep YOU safe, i.e., the fingerprinting of visitors which takes all of two seconds, involves no personnel, and has NOTHING to do with airport personnel acting in a nasty gestapo like fashion such as one encounters regularly at Heathrow (absolutely the case, Carylspall, and as usual, shows the British knack for lack of organization and efficiency at its very best-the chaos in British airports when they instituted their ill-advised, and soon amended, airline security policy back in August (and, btw, announced today that those UK airport security policies are being amended again "to bring them in line with the United States") made them not only the laughing stock of the world, but far more seriously, they created a huge security risk, with the chaos and crowds at English airports, which could have been easily exploited by those wishing to exploit this dangerous situation -and incredibly, a 12 year old boy was allowed to pass through ALL security checks during this time and board an aircraft without ANY papers, nothing on him-unbelieveable!

And no, BAA is a quasi-governmental agency, just like the UK Customs folks are employees of her Majesty-yes, they ARE government personnel.

But then, if you read the latest survey on world's rudest cities, you see London did not fare well at all,-landed at number 25 or so, with Paris. The world's politest city? why New York of course, (should come as no surprise to anyone- New Yorkers are both helpful AND friendly) and JFK personnel are in fact a model to the world when dealing with aviation. security policy.
Girlspytravel is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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Oh, definitely TTT on this one
Dukey is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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And no, BAA is a quasi-governmental agency, just like the UK Customs folks are employees of her Majesty-yes, they ARE government personnel.>>>>>>>

I've got shares in BAA. How do I get shares in the Royal Mint or Inland Revenue. I seem to have missed a tricke here.
audere_est_facere is offline  

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