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! 

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  • jack.kukard - 2012-08-20 08:57

    I agree Lanseria is far better than all the other airports , all they do is rip us off...

      alan.jerrold - 2012-08-20 11:19

      Totally agree. ACSA is an absolutely typical ANC ripoff. Horrendous parking prices and rotten service. Lanseria is a far better airport to fly from, and its parking fees are reasonable.

  • herman.bester.58 - 2012-08-20 09:21

    Yesterday afternoon I had to pay R12 for a 500ml coke at OR Tambo. So add the shops to your list of rip offs

      mike.bundy.73 - 2012-08-20 14:01

      Don't even ask how much for a microwaved pie that is still frozen in the centre, like a cornish pasty ice cream.

      jacowium - 2012-08-22 16:35

      I'm with you but as Chris mentioned, the shops have to pay viciously high rental fees, hence the prices will be marked up. It's still the consumer that gets ripped off though.

  • jan.vanderwesthuizen.370 - 2012-08-20 09:25

    The poor staff is probably worse of than you are since they are probably also ripped of and cannot escape.

  • yaschoeman - 2012-08-20 10:03

    Over work and under paid is two words that come to mind Top cats eating fat while in the ground people just don’t care about service. the attitudes is it’s your problem. not all of them are like that but it’s getting there. It’s sad. Don’t border writing letter it’s going to go nowhere. being there done that.

  • flysouth - 2012-08-20 10:36

    ACSA is a 100% government owned corporation - 'nuff said!

  • Bergie - 2012-08-20 11:11

    May I suggest the new bus service that runs from town? Very efficient and only costs R50. You can even catch the train into town and hop on the bus if not too much luggage. But yes, what a rip off.

      stan.finley.92 - 2012-08-20 14:52

      The MyCiti bus is the only way to go if your are able. We did it from Bloubergstrand last year and this year will do again as our flight times, leaving and coming back, coincide with the current bus schedules. The parking is a huge rip-off and the pay parking machines never, ever work and no one seems to care at CPT.

  • clivelang1 - 2012-08-20 11:24

    Had a similar problem just recently. Landed at OR Tambo, after the recent long weekend, having left King Shaka Int a short while ago. Put our parking ticket into the machine. The machine freezes. Press HELP. Nothing. Press HELP repeatedly for over half an hour. Nothing. Al the while a "security" guard trying to be helpful was using his two way radio to get someone to assist us. Eventually that method worked and we were on our way....45 minutes later than we should have been. Went on to the ACSA website to complain about the lack of service. Sent a complaint via their website. My complaint was acknowledged and guess what......since the acknowledgement-NOTHING. I sent them a snotty reply mail this morning, guess what, still NOTHING. Why should they worry, after where else are you going to park your car when you need to fly away.....seriously, our service in this country doesn't even come close to 4th world.....time to park my car at a dealership, catch a taxi to the airport and fly away never to return!!!

  • danie.hanekom - 2012-08-20 12:30

    Well said Chris. Its madness.

  • judith.taylor.56 - 2012-08-20 12:31

    R15 for parking at OR Tambo just to collect someone who is coming in too late to take the Gautrain. Then there's that person's time and petrol on top. Rip off doesn't describe it

  • peter.gugelmin - 2012-08-20 13:11

    I had a skelm scheme going at ORT. When I had to pick up people, I used to tell them after arriving go up to departures and just go out onto the drop off zone, I'll pick them up there. Never any hassles, no parking fees. But now Metro cops caught onto the idea and turned that into a cash cow too. They are now locking the wheels of the unattended vehicles there too.

  • noelle14 - 2012-08-20 13:56

    You could not have said it better - the other day I almost choked when I had to pay R72 just to pick someone up, PICK SOMEONE UP! And then when I asked about it they were like you parked in the wrong place, fair enough but do you honestly have to charge that much...

  • hardy.esterhuizen - 2012-08-20 17:52

    The very long term shade parking (Parkade 5) at CTIA is very small and pretty much always has a message saying it's full. I discovered that if you park in the more expensive slightly shorter term shade parking adjacent (Parkade 4), and then take your ticket to the Katanga (Contanga??) counter (a bit of a walk) and tell them that you could see empty spots in Parkade 5 but the booms are blocked with parking full signs, they'll re-code your ticket as if it was in the slightly less of a rip off long term Parkade 5.

  • binarycape - 2012-08-21 09:49

    I so agree with what you say. Cape Town Airport used to be a lovely little provincial style airport with so much charm and friendliness. You felt you could have tied up your horse there and hopped on a plane with your bag and someone would have looked after your horse - and then the place had to be upgraded to 'satisfy the USA' and then, heaven help us, it had to be upgraded yet again for no apparent reason other than the fact that we were hosting the World Cup!

  • colin.windell - 2012-08-22 15:59

    I'm with you all the way.

  • stoffel.hessell - 2012-08-22 22:43

    On top of everything..when you park at the pick up area and a plain arrive an hour or two late, you have to pay this ridiculous amount for parking because the flight was delayed which was not your fault, nor was it your passenger's was the airport's fault but we have to pay for it!! Stoffel

  • WigzellRM - 2012-08-24 23:52

    Over the years ACSA have become a bunch of self important puffed up toads. Ever since "Public Servants" became "Government Officials". But that is mainly because the sheeple accept their ineptitude, basically individual apathy. If everyone stood together and confronted them things might change.

      Klaus - 2012-08-26 19:26

      5% of 50 Million or thereabout , we count for nothing - except they need our money - badly

  • stephen.redford.16 - 2012-08-28 21:23

    Any chance competition commission can step in ? Or maybe we could organize to park taxis to block the entrances ?

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