Cruising with J9: The inconvenience of OR Tambo

2010-09-02 13:37

If there’s one place that should be pure bliss because of its convenience, it’s the airport. With the recent upgrades many airports around the country have improved – except for the parking at the biggest one of them all: OR Tambo.

Three years ago, parking at the cheap long-term parking would cost you 10 bucks a day. Now it’s R35 a day and if you’re running late, don’t even bother parking in that section. Even though there is a shuttle bus every few minutes, you still have to make the 4km trip back to the airport and pray there is no traffic.

It’s still the best parking option, though. Except when you return from your destination and you’re in a hurry to get home on a Friday night. Having to walk to the shuttle pick-up and taking the bus back could be an even longer trek.

Lately I have been parking at the cheapest carports at the airport – just on the other side of the InterContinental Hotel. The walk isn’t too far and the rate is R60 a day. I still think it’s a bit steep considering you have to scout for an available bay even though the electronic board en route to the carports indicates there are 38 bays open.

Then, while you take the long walk to the exit you have to pinch your nose so as not to inhale the odours of a non-existent public toilet.

Parking at the hourly-rate parkades will cost you about R200 a day. Insanely pricey, but very convenient.

So I parked at the R60 a day car port the other day and the flight I was on landed a few minutes early. I was in a relatively good mood considering I had been up since 3am to catch a very early flight that same morning.

As a I arrive at the pay station with my money and ticket in hand, I see there is a queue, a security guard and two pay station “assistants”. A R100 note was jammed in both machines!

I started getting agitated because no one was explaining the problem and if it was going to be fixed. Only after I started shouting and the rest of the queue backed me up, the assistants had no choice but ask for the booms to be opened so everyone could get out – for free.

Great? Not at all. For some reason the people in the main office seemed either spiteful or just plain incompetent. The attendants do not have any remote controls for the spiked-booms to be opened and it is done from the head office.

They closed the boom after each car had left and did not re-open it, even though they were told there was a long string of cars that needed to be assisted.

After landing at 6pm, I got home at nearly 9pm on a Friday night. So much for delightful convenience.

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