So some of you may be aware that earlier on in the week we flew out of Manchester Airport for the A4U Expo conference in Munich. The trip didn’t start too well as there was a chance that the returning ash cloud over the UK could have affected our flights, but what actually happened was that Manchester airport was open on Monday when we were due to fly, but had been closed on Sunday.
When you have booked a flight in advance, checked in online and made your seat reservation you’d expect that it would be an easy process to get to the airport, drop your luggage off (couple of minutes) and then go through security and to the gate. Since Manchester airport had been affected by the ash cloud there was obviously more people trying to get a flight, but it seemed like chaos had moved in. At the baggage drop off point there were people delaying the queue trying to rebook a seat on a later plane. Surely there should be a separate desk for this type of thing? Then when we finally got the bags checked in, the queue was out of the security area and was making its way past the check in desks.
Anyone who has been to Manchester airport will know that the security area is always a bit of a nightmare as you enter a big room with lots of weaving lanes to get to a barrier to swipe your boarding card initially. Then it’s onto the security barriers so realistically you enter a new big queue. As we had been held up at baggage drop off, and then was in the security queue for ages, we actually ended up being taken out of the queue to be fast tracked otherwise we’d of missed the flight. You’d have thought that they would have made sure that there were more staff processing the extra people.
Anyway after all that we had a very good flight with Lufthansa to Munich and had a great conference. Now after a conference all you want to do is get home, but typically the only flight on the departure board at Munich to be delayed was ours. The delay apparently was due to the crew being delayed on another flight coming in. By the time everyone was on the plane and we taxied down the runway we were about 50 minutes late leaving Munich. Again the flight was good and I managed to finish off the book I have been reading, “Have a Crap Day” by Jez Rose which is an excellent customer service book. (review coming soon). The pilot had increased his cruising speed so that we picked up a bit of time but for some reason we landed I think somewhere on the edge of Manchester, towards Liverpool, and the plane then had to taxi for about 15 minutes to get to the terminal. I’m sure at that time of night when there are very few flights we could have used the main runway since we were behind schedule – crazy!
Once we got to the Stand and stopped, we all jumped out of our seats and grabbed our bags ready to get off the plane, only to be told there would be a delay in opening the doors as the air bridge wasn’t ready. This is when a bit of claustrophobia sets in when you’re told that it’s going to take 5 – 10 minutes for the bridge to be ready. What, how come, they knew the plane coming in, why wasn’t everything ready for it? So finally off the plane, through passport control and to the baggage hall. This was when the customer service from Manchester airport totally failed. We were the only flight waiting for luggage as everyone else had gone home and we waited at least 25 – 30 minutes for the luggage to start to arrive. During that time, not once did a staff member of Manchester airport come to explain the delay or apologise. We had expected to arrive at Manchester at 10.30pm, and it was not until about 11.55pm before we were actually collecting the luggage and heading to the car.
Oh and Manchester airport have a Twitter account (@manairport), which I was tweeting, but not once was there a response, probably because the person who looks after the account was all tucked up in bed. And they must be off work today as their Twitter feed hasn’t been updated today and as yet I haven’t had any apology for the really bad customer service last night. They had posters around the arrival area saying “Manchester Airport – we know you have a choice”, yep you’re right so next time perhaps its best to use alternative airports to travel anywhere.