I woke up 36 hours ago a few thousand miles away from my house in Madrid, where I just arrived. I should go to sleep, but I have to write this rant.
In the past hours I flew from Boston to Barcelona via Philadelphia, and a couple hours ago from Barcelona to Madrid. The reason for that itinerary is that I had to do some business in Barcelona, so I decided to fly there from Phily instead of coming directly to Madrid. And this odd journey has made me seen the huge differences between American and Spanish airports. I had thought on writing this post some time ago, but only today, quite pissed off, I finally do it.
Firstly I must say that I travel a lot. In the last twelve months I’ve been to the US 8 or 9 times and flown around Spain and Europe a few dozen times, so I think I know what I’m talking about. I understand that all airports have a P&L account and their owners are free to manage them as they feel more adequate. But in Spain I lately find that the way the owners choose is always terrible for the traveler. And this is completely incomprehensible for me considering that in Spain all the big airports are publicly owned, and tourism is Spain’s biggest industry. We should be taking care of travelers, not making their journey miserable. I think that the problem is that they are public and not used to compete, but I’ll limit to describe the experiences and leave further analysis for another day.
Yesterday I did a stop in Philadelphia for a couple of hours, and the experience, as in previous occasions, was as good as you can expect in an airport. I had a good and reasonably priced dinner: a huge plate full of shrimp in an spicy sauce, fries (I know, weird combination, I can’t defend myself) and a drink which was refilled several times. All for around $17 (around 13€). After that I sat in a rocking chair (yes, a rocking chair, how cool is that?) near an electric plug and charged my laptop while I worked for a while. This time I didn’t connect to the internet, but in many occasions I’ve done so, and most of them I could enjoy it for free.
About 20 hours later, in Barcelona, my experience has been completely different. I wanted to have dinner, but I didn’t have much time, so I bought a small yogurt and a tiny blueberry juice… and I was charged 9.40€ (more than $12)… for a yogurt and a juice! The prices were there in a small card, but I didn’t look before opening them, my fault. Then I’ve gone to the boarding gate and searched for and electric plug. There were some available, but all them were carefully situated away from any place where I could sit. So I had to sit in the floor, as others were doing, to be able to recharge my laptop for a few minutes. Finally, I tried to connect to the internet, but the prices were ridiculous and I decided to wait until getting home: 4€ (more than $5) for 30 minutes… there was also an option for 15 minutes for free, but they requested so much information that I preferred not to use it (name, email, mobile telephone number, date of birth…). And I know that in Madrid, the airport that I use most, things are similar. Several times I’ve paid high prices for bad food, sit on the floor or been ripped off with the wifi prices.
Oh, I almost forgot, when we arrived to Madrid, almost an hour late, they didn’t park the plane in a gate, they left us away from the terminal and moved us there in a bus. And they put the luggage in the wrong belt.
Who understands its customer better? Guess where I will prefer to make a stop if I have to choose?