More hassle at airports


Last year, 2006, when I was traveling back from Dussledorf, my flight was “rearranged” on my behalf by the airline.  This meant that I had to spend a few hours hanging around the airport.  After you’ve browsed pretty much every shop available, including those that you would never think of even going into, never mind browse, you have to concede and find a seat.  This is what I did at Dussledorf airport (back in 2006).  I found a seat near a plug, opened the laptop out and started typing.  I found myself sat in front of some over-zealous credit card touts who were going out of their way to try and rope in punters.  And this being Germany, the touts were leggy blondes…


Over a year later, I find myself hanging about Edinburgh airport, for today I have chosen not to fly on the red-eye (first flight of the day at 0600ish).  Instead I chose to fly on the second flight of the day, heading to London on the day when there is a Tube strike, smashing.  Anyway, I digress. 

My arrival at Edinburgh airport took the usual route: park in the multi-story car park then enter the airport on foot.  Entering the airport is fine, however getting upstairs to security/departures and onward to airside is a problem.  The escalator is the primary and most obvious route to departures – it’s protected by a couple of credit card touts, usually ladies. 

Avoiding eye contact is the key, then pretending to be deaf as it can be difficult to ignore “excuse me sir”.  Having props, like a passport and a slip of paper in hand (this could easily be your pre-printed boarding pass) whilst hurriedly looking towards check-in, then sharply running towards the escalators is another trick that works. 

However, I have a trick that is guaranteed to get you past the inconvenience of the credit card touts.  Upon entering Edinburgh airport from the multi-story car park, instead of turning to the right to head up the stairs and into their trap, turn to the left.  Here you will be greeted with access to lost property and a lesser-known set of stairs that takes you upstairs without any hassle at all.

This is all very well and good, and you would think that once you are airside, you are free from touts and their fishing lines. Sadly, the touts have got wise and have also installed themselves airside.  Slap bang in the middle of the primary shopping area of the departure lounge.   Instead of leggy blonds, we are presented with middle-aged balding blokes with glasses.  it just doesn’t work for me.  Of course, once they’ve made that first step towards you, closely followed by “excuse me sir, do you live in the UK?” (to which the answer that seems to work is “no”), eye contact inevitably follows. 

Why should they be here at all?  For most people, being at an airport is a stressful enough time, without them believing that they have to sign up for a[nother, unwanted] credit card as part of the “airport experience”.  Business is business, but when business become invasive, it becomes annoying and puts people off.  Whilst I still use the bank that was rather over-zealous in Germany last year, I can’t see myself using the bank that employed Rowan Atkinson for its advertising campaign.  Over-zealous and invasive marketing  techniques are analogous to shooting yourself in the foot.

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