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Jim Eagles: Heathrow, LAX top airport hate lists

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Queuing at airports is the most frustrating part of the travel experience for many people. Photo / Bloomberg News
Queuing at airports is the most frustrating part of the travel experience for many people. Photo / Bloomberg News

London Heathrow, with its long queues, surly staff and clapped-out amenities, is the airport our readers most like to avoid. Not far behind on the hate list is Los Angeles with its clumsy security procedures, more grumpy staff and more long queues.

My article a couple of weeks ago on the misery of coming off a long flight only to find yourself queuing for an hour to get through immigration turned out to be very timely.

A few days later reports started coming in from London of passengers waiting up to two hours in immigration queues and, on some occasions, even storming past officials without showing their documents.

Certainly the Herald received dozens of emails and dozens more online comments as readers shared their frustration that all airports aren't as efficient as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Steve G reckons that though those two are the best, Asian airports in general - "even in India" - are either very good or fast improving.

"The worst [airports] for rudeness and jerks are found in Australia, the UK and the USA for some reason. Customs [officials] in these countries are ignorant, self-important idiots."

As if to back up that view several Australian airports - most notably Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - did cop some criticism. But Heathrow and LA were far and away the most unpopular places to end a flight.

Ethan, for instance, said his "worst experience ever ... would have to be Heathrow. Not only was the three-hour process horrible for myself and pregnant partner but it caused us to miss our connecting flight and also caused our luggage to be lost for three weeks. Imagine what the Olympics are going to be like".

In fact Heathrow is so unpopular with travellers that Observer suggested flying Lufthansa to Frankfurt so as to enter Britain from Europe.

"Yes, a bit longer, but you can have a coffee in Frankfurt and then walk straight through Customs at Heathrow through the Non-EU residents' gate."

Views on LA were almost as vehement with quite a few people indicating it was a reason to avoid travelling via the US.

Martin, for instance, said "LAX certainly takes the Oscar for the worst immigration arrivals. Notwithstanding the visa obtained online before arrival, now they fingerprint all arrivals, one finger at a time. They seem to have little concept of PR in welcoming folk to their little 'ol US of A and I will now always avoid flying into or via the US if I can possibly do so".

I'm about to head for Europe myself but, happily, I've been able to avoid both LA and Heathrow.

- NZ Herald

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