It is always good to be back. It's true what they say, there is no place like home. London is brilliant, but home is home.

But yet again sadly the gateway to home, or perhaps more importantly the gateway to the tourist mecca that is this country, was at its full incompetent, back-watery, monopolistic, haphazard display in the early hours of yesterday morning.

If we are to invite millions to this country, if we are to market ourselves worldwide and as a tourism mecca, we really must start getting our act together - and that starts the minute you hit the airfield.

Auckland Airport is an embarrassment, and it has been an embarrassment for years.

It appears to have been under construction or refurbishment for years. It is slow, it is understaffed, it is under-resourced and it is a hopelessly amateurish way to arrive here.

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Our plane, and this has happened to me now several times, didn't get a gate. So we got to walk down stairs, sort of like they did in the 1940s.

The captain asked, rhetorically, given it's the airport authority that allocates the gates and therefore the buses when there are no gates, why the buses weren't there waiting for us. He couldn't surmise, but you could hear the disdain in his voice.

And it's against this backdrop that the airlines who use the facility have grown increasingly tired of the service they get.

Remembering of course that the airlines think they're getting ripped off. And there isn't enough oversight on a monopoly that can charge what it likes and provide crap service for it.

And the Commerce Commission is worried about the amount of profit the airport is making. So not a lot of happy punters.

But back to yesterday morning: we waited for our bags for over an hour. After about 40 minutes they made an announcement as to what was wrong, something wasn't working.

I thought it was the entire airport, but they'd isolated it down to something more specific.
But either way there was a singular announcement, as opposed to the many that a good provider of any level of service would have offered.

The irony is that both LAX and Heathrow, surely two of the most famously chaotic airports on Earth, put Auckland to shame these days with their services and efficiency. Terminal 2 in London is a pleasure to be at.

Even mad, old LAX gets you through in orderly time. But good old Auckland, not a fraction as busy as either of those places, has no gates and no ability to toss a few bags your way in under 60 minutes.

And then you wind your way through the never-ending building site that is Customs with its swinging lights and wires and exposed rafters. Not to mention banging your trolley into the scaffolding.

No wonder the airlines are over it, the airport should be paying them!

And it won't be hard for the Commerce Commission to find out where the money is going, because it's not going into the services.

If I had anything to do with the place I'd be ashamed. Tourism is worth $14 billion to this
country. We host 3.6 million people.

And yet the front door to it all is an aviation version of a long drop.