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Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

Oct 30th, 2006, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The rudest airport staff I have ever come across were at Houston. When I was 23 I had the misfortune of being delayed there, alone, for 24 hours and the staff were all so mean and unpleasant that I ended up in tears!

Haven't found the staff at Heathrow particularly rude or unfriendly - no worse than any other major airport. In fact I was surprised, last time I passed through (in early September), at how jovial and polite the security staff were, given the huge lines and grumpy passengers that they were having to deal with (lots of people complaining loudly about having to give up their liquids, check extra carry on bags, etc.).
hanl is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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I'm surprised that no one has commented on the fact that at Heathrow at least the staff (mostly) speak English. At CDG many do not, and trying to figure out what you're being told becomes interesting. However, most of the staff we encountered were polite.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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While i only mentionned the facts that may seem acceptable from an US ppoint of view about JFK, i was just trying to keep it polite and moderate.
To me it's absolutely unbelivable and not acceptable to treat citizens of a country with wich you have a visa waiving agreement like the USA do : Would you accept to have your figerprints taken at CDG like a criminal ? (and with suche nice greetings like (faster ! you stupid french nigger !)
norween is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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I've flown in and out of LHR more times than I can be bothered to count and never experienced rudeness ... just lucky I guess!? I have turned up there without my passport (I won't elaborate on my temporary insanity but a friend on a motorbike delivered it in time for me to catch my flight!) and was treated with understanding and sympathy.

The worst airport in my experience is JFK, very unfriendly and my worst experience here was when I was pregnant.
The runner up is Bogata, Colombia but this was based on just one visit and was largely due to the many machine gun toting military presence.
highflyer is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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I had this one price of a customs agent who accused me of having an attitude and threatened to send me back.

After an 11-hour flight, apparently I wasn't showing enough deference and gratitude to this little clerk.

I don't know what set him off exactly.
scrb is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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I had a bad experience in Amsterdam.I had a notebook which was an address book and a place where I would also write down favourite shops..I felt like a drug dealer as they pored over every page..I did not know as to whether I could complain or not...What they were looking for I don't know..I assume that they thought I would have some "known" addresses .....
carioca4ed is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Atlanta HJ takes first place with rude and inept employees--it is absolutely the worst airport to fly into on an international flight.
nini is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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Have you looked at your local TSA agents? Rude generally does not BEGIN to describe them. (Words that do cannot be used on a public message board)

Every week I am YELLED at and watch the IDIOTS abuse passengers. (Here's a hint, the woman in the wheelchair did not give up walking by choice, YELLING at her will not enable her to walk!)

Welcome to America, home of the inept and rude!
CarolA is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 03:47 PM
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I am surprised no one has mentioned LAX. About a year ago when coming home after 18 months in Europe, I was fortunate to be greeted by a TSA agent screaming at people on the ramp after leaving the plane to have your passports out. It was the most horrible shrill sound. Welcome to America...I was ready to turn around and get back on the plane.
I used to get grilled at Heathrow when I was a student - I was once asked if I knew any middle eastern people (not long after Lockerbie).
fnn is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 05:45 PM
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I've just had a similar experience to Flanner's on arrival at Montreal. I think one's perceptions are influenced by the stresses of travel tiself (which one mightn't be aware of) - we'd just had a particularly windy landing, and it didn't help the mood to be find one's way barred by a couple of grim-faced women who appeared, shall we say, to prefer to be in trousers, who barked about having to have one's passport out - a good fifty or sixty yards before we even got anywhere near the immigration booths. But not all airport jobs are about customer service - or rather, the customer isn't always the passenger.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 05:46 PM
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Saorry, fnn's experience (it's the jetlag you know)
PatrickLondon is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 07:45 AM
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PatrickLondon - you are right the stress of travel does seem to make mountains out of molehills! I found it embarrassing to come home to this woman yelling - what must someone think when they are arrving for the first time.

But, if listening to this woman yell for a few moments is the worst I have to deal with when I travel then I am lucky.
fnn is offline  
Oct 31st, 2006, 08:25 AM
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No. BAA is not a quasi-government entity. It WAS a private, for-profit (didn't you figure that out from that shopping malls at LHR?) UK entity until it recently got acquired by a spanish construction company.

And back to previous comments? Customs personnel at LHR being rude? I rarely see a live human being manning the customs. At immigration/passport control, yes. (Then again, I opt for IRIS gates skipping the queues...)
W9London is offline  
Nov 4th, 2006, 04:05 PM
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I agree with W9London that the comments about LHR rudeness probably refer to Immigration Department personnel. While I have met some pleasant ones, I have also met a number of rude bullies who abuse their position, probably because they hate their job and resent people who are able to travel.

I lucked upon a particularly nasty one in February 2005 when I returned to London from a Ramblers Holidays tour of Cuba. This young woman looked through my passport slowly, stopping and studying my Romanian visa from my 2002 trip for a longish time. She then asked several times why I was stopping 2 nights in London on the way to Paris. I said "holiday". If I was honest I would have told her it was only because London was the easiest way for me to get to continental Europe, or I would not bother to go to London at all.

She then started to ask what I why I was going to Paris ("holiday") and wanted to know if I would spend the full 5 days in Paris, or would be travelling out of Paris for any part of it. I asked why that was relevant to her and she said "Madam, I am a British Immigration Department officer and I can ask you anything I want to know about what you are doing in the European Union."

She then gave me the third degree about the way I had written my address in London (a friend's flat - I had written it in the style "2/75 street name, London, postcode", as when addressing a letter). This nasty little piece of work then said "what is that? A hotel?" and I said "No, I am staying with a friend". She pointed to the "2/75" and said "What does that mean" and I said it meant flat 2 No 75 X street and then she started giving me the third degreee why I had not written "flat 2, 75 X St". When she finally signalled to me that I could leave, I said "I hope you come to Australia one day and I'll greet YOU".

I dont know if it is more common at LHR overall, or whether I have just been unlucky, but immigration officers in other countries have never given me the impression that they were being malicious in their rudeness. I have had that impression of British Immigration officers more than one occasion at LHR (but never at Gatwick or when going on the Eurostar). One factor might be that most of my flights to LHR tend to arrive at 5.30 am and they might be annoyed about having to be up so early - this trip I arrived at about 8 am and the immigration officer was quite nice.
Faux is offline  
Nov 4th, 2006, 04:40 PM
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faux: OK - she may have bugged you. But I fail to see anything nasty in any of her questions. The only even remotely, semi-nasty thing I read is your " . . I asked why that was relevant to her"

Unless you left a lot of "nasty" details out of your report, it sorta does look like that she was simply being thorough and observant
janisj is online now  
Nov 4th, 2006, 07:42 PM
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Janisj, I guess I didn't convey her unpleasant manner when asking these questions. It was not unlike your unpleasant manner in your post.
Faux is offline  
Nov 4th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Show me one (ONE) nasty word in my post . . . .

I did say - Unless you left a lot of nasty details out of your report. But just what you reported didn't sound nasty or out of line. If you want to give us all the gory details now, maybe we'll see how awful she was.
janisj is online now  
Nov 4th, 2006, 08:25 PM
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I must have been on another planet, then. Arriving at Heathrow at 6 am, it seems as if everyone was greated warmly. After getting my bag, it took me 10-15 minutes to get through customs and I was off.

A lady just inside the airport tube station noticed my puzzled look and asked if she could help.

On my return trip, the flight from Edinburgh was late. I missed my connecting flight to Chicago (even though there was 90 mins between flights). The lady at the American Airlines counter said that since British Airways was the cause of me missing the flight, they'd have to book me another. I thought I was screwed. The Birtish Airways people were great. I now had enough time to go to the VAT counter with the receipts for all my goodies. Those people were very friendly. It took 20 minutes to get through the security checkpoint. My backpack was taken aside to be searched (who knows why), but the lady doing it was very nice.

The people working in the duty free area were great. I wandered around there for about an hour and after being asked if I neede any help, I explained why I was milling about, they left me alone. The bartender in the Chili's (I think that was the restaurant) was freindly, too.

As I said, I must have been on another planet.
Blacknight is offline  
Nov 4th, 2006, 08:35 PM
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I feel that if you have not gone through what Faux has experienced you really should not discount her experience. The agent Faux described sounds rude and just used her authority to harass. Her questions were answered by Faux but she kept up the unnecessary interrogation. Did she not understand what the word 'holiday' meant?
francophile03 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 02:03 AM
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In my over 15 years of going through Heathrow I've never been given the 3rd degree the way Faux was. That agent sounds like a typical petty bureaucrat impressed with her power.
Carrybean is offline  

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