Chris Moerdyk

The arrogance of airports

2012-08-20 08:42

I completely lost my rag at Cape Town International Airport the other day and I am not in the least bit ashamed.

What is it with those arrogant ACSA people?

First of all, I find it extremely offensive that the cheapest part of my air ticket is the bit where I get into a very expensive aircraft and fly to a far off destination. It is ludicrous that the largest part of an airfare is made up of government taxes and airport fees.


If that isn’t frustrating enough the part that really burns me up is the parking. My oath, talk about rip-off.  In my next life I want nothing more than to own a parking concession at an airport. It must be like printing money.

Just Google "Parking at Cape Town International Airport" and the story you get is that there are these wonderful people who are awaiting your arrival with smiles on their faces and ready to show you to a convenient parking spot in which you car will be wrapped in cotton wool and looked after.

You have all sorts of choices, undercover, shade and last but not least, Long Term.

Look what we are offering they explain with the sound of angels trumpeting the Hallelujah Chorus in the background - you can park for a long time at a far lower price.

So, I drive up to this long term parking paradise only to find that when I try and take a ticket from the machine a little message says: Parking Full - Find Alternative Parking."

Actually the message I thought I read was " Go to hell, you stupid bastard"

So, I mentally prepare myself to sell my house when I return because now I am in for some serious parking charges because I am about to use the dreaded short term parking long term.

Ah, those machines...

I get back a week later and after schlepping my trolley load of suitcase the equivalent of the Olympic marathon distance to my car,  I eventually arrive at the exit where there is a bold sign saying "you can pay for your parking here by credit card by following the instructions. "

It rejects my credit card. I try anther credit card. It rejects that. I try my wife's credit card and it rejects that. I don't have a suitcase full of the required amount of cash and there is a queue gathering behind me.

I hit the help button. Nothing. I keep hitting the help button. Nothing. After a lot of jostling and reversing I manage to drive back and find a parking place by some miracle. I start my Olympic marathon back to the nearest ticket machine. The fact that it was pouring with rain, didn't help either.
It also rejected three credit cards.

I push the help button. Nothing. I lean on the help button. Eventually: "what?"

"Your machine won't accept my credit card."

“You must come to the office in the parkade."  No apology, no "sorry," nothing. Just present yourself at the office in the parkade if you value you life you pathetic little man.

At the office

Office is empty. I lean on the bell once more.

Eventually some guy wearing a "Katanga Parking” uniform arrives and without saying a word just takes my card, swipes and tosses it back to me with such awesome arrogance as to completely take my breath away.

Why is it I wonder, that airport never, ever, ever have enough parking? Why is it I wonder, why airports charge so much more for parking than anyone else?

Why is it I wonder that our airports have to be constructed like five-star holiday resorts and subsequently have to charge a fortune in airport fees to sustain the whole big, fat, white elephant ?

For, heaven's sake all I want to do is park my car, get on an aircraft and go.

I don’t want to have to walk miles through vast shopping malls  and have a choice of 20 restaurants and dozens of shops all selling food and goods at exorbitant prices because the airports people charge them such high rents.

But the real killer at Cape Town International is that when you come out of the international arrivals hall there are some big glass doors you could walk through and go directly into a parkade.

But no, ACSA keeps those doors locked so you are forced to walk the long way round to the parkade which means, incidentally, having to go past a lot of shops.

It is no wonder that Lansaria airport has become so popular. It is simple, uncomplicated and a pleasure. It isn't owned by ACSA. Surprise! 

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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