Okie dokie, let’s get this week’s news round-up going as we’ve got a lot to get through! Our tour will bring you to Singapore, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Moscow and London. It’s obviously been a news week from around the world!
Another busy aviation related airport week has passed and with that news about missing cats, stranded passengers a new runway, the world’s worst airports and a frequent renaming of a US airport nicely filled our inbox. Let’s start chronologically:
For once this week’s round up of airport related news is focusing entirely on one country on the island of Great Britain. With Qantas’ ongoing strike woes continuing in Australia and Spain’s decision in delaying its airport privatization, to just name two examples, other regions certainly weren’t absent from news headlines around the world, yet it was England that caught our full attention this week.
This week’s news has it all: two celebrities – one in a controversial fight with a European lobby, the other on a literature adventure (can you say it 10 times?) – and then two rival airports that finally start competing properly. Now if that’s not proper headline stuff, we rest our pencils.
It’s been another busy week for airports around the world. And once again we have seen the full spectrum of news articles coming in: everything from small animals delaying flights at one of the busiest airports in the world to an “animal-named” airline being grounded due to safety concerns. Oh and then there’s the one with new bathrooms too. But let’s start at the beginning:
It seems as this week was mostly about Delta Airlines and Minneapolis St Paul International Airport (IATA: MSP). The news started on the good side when Delta Airlines announced new dining options and Apple iPads to rent at the airport as published by the Pioneer Press on Tuesday. The article read that the changes are part of a $2 billion investment to improve the overall travel experience for customers after similar upgrades at New York-area airports. Then, just when it was all happy days, on Saturday, local time, the news came from the same airport that Delta had to cancel 250 flights due to a power outage at the airport. According to a CNN report, the cause of the extended outage has not been pinpointed yet.
With Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding only days away, we thought it’s timely to look closer at Britain’s capital airports in order to find out whether these London airports are actually living up to the (new) royal standards. Plus, is there even such a thing as a royal airport? The answer to the latter question is yes and no. Actually more no than yes. A ‘yes’, because for shorter flights the Queen and the rest of the British Royal Family use RAF Northolt (IATA: NHT), a Royal Air Force station approximately 10 km north of London Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR). From there they use BAe 146 or HS125 aircraft from ‘No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron’ when available according to the Monarchy’s official website. More no, because in order to save costs the British Royal Family is encouraged to use commercially scheduled flights. This they do mostly out of Heathrow as their royal travel grant-in-aid documents reveal (see for yourself here).
I’ve been to London’s Gatwick airport (IATA: LGW) a few times now but so far all my flights departed from the South Terminal from where there isn’t much to report from. It’s actually probably one of the most boring terminals on this planet. Yes, there are a few shops and eateries, but there’s nothing really exciting there. Mind you, there are still things you can do at the airport in such a situation, check out some of my more creative suggestions here, here and here.
But now, let’s rather focus on the North Terminal. First of all, getting there was a bit of a hassle on this April’s fool’s day as the connecting shuttle that normally runs between the two terminals wasn’t working because they are currently upgrading it. A new shuttle should be ready by this summer. I therefore had to cue up and board a bus. Once in the North Terminal, however, it’s actually quite a pleasant experience. This building seems to be the quieter and more airy terminal. This is simply about the ratio of space to people one would accept for an airport.
Then, once through security, you’ll get to a large open space with shops all around you. There are 2 levels, the ground floor containing mostly shops such as Harrods, Dixons Travel, Accessorize, WH Smith or Boots among the more general ones. Upstairs you’ll find mainly restaurants and bars, however luckily there wasn’t as single McDonalds or Burger King in sight, sadly no Starbucks either.
So here are a few suggestions of what to do:
- Get your last minute flip flops from the well stocked “The Shoe Studio” on the ground floor
- Stock up your miniature travel essentials from Boots
- Check out the English old school, but fairly well stocked toy store “Hamley’s”
- Treat yourself to a few innovative cosmetic solutions from “Rituals…”
- If you’re hungry, go upstairs and check out Café Rouge which offers a nice seating area both facing inside and outside the terminal. Or grab a bite to eat at my favourite “sandwich franchise”, Eat. If you’re a bit more adventurous, go to the Lloyds bar and try one of their Bitters with a great view towards the runways. And finally, if you’re the milk shake & hot dog kind of person, then checking out “Shake-a-Hula” is a must. They serve, you guessed it, milk shakes and hot dogs. But don’t worry; you don’t have to have them in one go necessarily.
|Airport Name||London Gatwick Airport, North Terminal|
|£32.99 (incl. Ice Jacket)|
[Picture from Flickr – some rights reserved]