5 hours south of Newcastle and I arrive at Stansted Airport for a 7am flight to Jerez, Spain.
Since I get tired driving late and in the dark, I figured, drive in the evening and arrive at airport around 2 am since you’ll save money on a hotel and you can just take a seat somewhere.
The drive was fine, I put all of my Nashville albums on shuffle and sang my heart out pretty much the entire way, it helped me stay wide awake for the drive and to be honest, was a lot of friggin’ fun.
No one on the road which made it a very smooth drive, arrived at the airport parking and took a shuttle to the terminal. Lovely.
Terminal is a whole other story.
My last over night stay in an airport was in Japan. Osaka I believe – I’d do it all over again!! The staff were so friendly and gave everyone blankets, some shops were still open and beer was available so I had a couple of cans, the smoking areas were small glass ventilated rooms (at the time I was a smoker) and lots of seats to choose from (and comfortable ones at that).
Whereas Stansted… well, not only do they block off 90% of seats but you also can’t lie down in certain areas. It looked like a homeless shelter as I walked through the doors at 2:30am. People just lying down one after the other and in a very concentrated area. I really dislike being close to strangers so I walked and searched for a corner spot… no luck. But I did find an isolated place outside the women’s toilets. So I plonked myself there.
Yes, there was a smell and yes the hand dryer was loud as crap but at least I had some sort of personal space. Not for long.
Some angry man with an accent loudly told me ‘you cannot stay here. You must move’ and walked off. Fine.
Very quickly it seemed like everyone was being told to get up, I quickly noticed more noise and movement about. Yes!! We can check in!! So I shuffled to a screen where I would await my check in zone. But standing around when tired and ill (oh yeah – woke up with flu symptoms this morning – obviously) I found a place to sit next to the Ryanair check in desks.
People started showing up and looking confused and moody. Think they’d been told to stand next to these check-ins, probably carelessly by another moody person. Yes it’s 3:30am but we’re all in this together people!!!
I found people queuing for my airplane company so joined them, until I heard a voice over saying if you have only hand luggage you won’t need to queue and just go straight to security. YES!! That would be me.
So long moody suckers.
But oh my, the security. I felt like I was an extra on Orange is the New Black. We’re all being shuffled through electric gates, told to stand in lines and being (moodily) reminded to take off shoes, no liquids over 100ml and do we have laptops. Pffft.
Never felt less human with rights.
Everyone was getting moodier.
And through to the departure lounge I went feeling pretty down-trodden.
Thinking ‘I am NEVER flying from Stansted again’.
Mind you, I’ve just gotten through to the departures bit and low and behold – it’s a bloody mall!! Disco music blasting from all the different high street shops (it’s only 4am!) high street food places are open and getting busy, souvenir shops are everywhere and even a good old Whetherspoons pub!
So Stansted has made a better impression on me once you go through passed security.
And I know that comparing anything to Japanese standards isn’t fair… but the moody employees and lack of care in the main entrance was my worst experience yet. And I’ve been around.
So I may fly from Stansted again, but if I can avoid it, I ain’t arriving before I can check in.