Earlier on in the year, I had to travel from East Midlands Airport on business. It wasn’t the greatest experience and I recorded my observations on that journey here. Reading back through that post, I’m amazed I decided to fly from there again, but last Friday I did as I needed to get to Edinburgh. On reflection, the train would have been a better choice for the trip, but it would have meant an overnight stay. I’m not sure why I decided that was a bad thing, given that Edinburgh is truly lovely at this time of year. In fact, it’s lovely at most times of the year, especially if you avoid driving there!
Well, East Midlands Airport hasn’t improved. It’s got far, far worse than even a few months ago, so much so that I even motivated myself to track down a customer comment card and fill it in before my flight. I’m looking forward to the response of Penny Coates, the airport MD.
I complained about four specific things. Firstly, the price of car parking. Booked a few days in advance in car park 1 (a ‘mid stay’ car park), the cost was £17.99 plus a £1.50 credit card fee. A total of £19.49 for around 15 hours of parking time and a wet and wild walk of a few minutes to the terminal as there are no longer any buses from that car park to the terminal to ‘help reduce their carbon footprint’. You would have therefore thought with the money they’ve saved on buses and fuel they would have reduced the price. But no. And if I’d been unwise enough to just turn up, it would have been an eye watering £24.70 for the same service. Readers of a nervous disposition should stop reading now. The short stay car park in front of the terminal would have been £37.50 (including the credit card charge) for a stay of between 12 and 24 hours. The same carpark that was somewhere between £5 and £7 for a day just a decade or so ago. That’s some rate of inflation.
Just by way of comparison, Derby Station car park is £11 for the day (but free for me as the office is next to the station anyway); Edinburgh airport is £7.10 in the equivalent car park booked in advance and a bargain £19 for the short stay next to the terminal (with covered walkways and a free pass for two people to go through the priority queue at security) and Birmingham (their nearest airport competitor) is £10.50 in long stay and £18 in the short stay car park. Neither Edinburgh or Birmingham feel it necessary to further penalise their customers with an additional credit card charge. At these prices EMA might as well have attempted to rename the airport London East Midlands – which would have been about as sensible as their attempt to rename it Nottingham East Midlands a few years ago. (The airport is in Leicestershire and the nearest city is Derby. Grrrr.)
Then there’s airport security. If I’d needed a plastic bag to put hand-baggage liquids into, it would have cost £1 from a vending machine for two bags. Not 50p for one (which would have been bad enough.) I wonder how running superfluous electrically powered vending machines impacts their carbon footprint. At Edinburgh airport, needless to say, they’re still freely available.
Then there’s the price of food. Just under £5.60 for a mediocre bacon roll and a lukewarm cup of coffee from the Soho Coffee Company before my flight. And worst of all, they believe that the £3.49 they charge for the roll is such exceptional value, they boast about it on advertising boards inside the terminal. I guess compared to the Great British Breakfast it is – but then, that was amazingly poor value too.
Finally, they’ve built the duty free shop over the walkway between gates 1-5 and all the other gates. It makes it almost impossible to get through at anything like a decent pace and means you are constantly bombarded by well meaning sales assistants trying to get you to try a splash of man-perfume while you’re concentrating on finding your aeroplane. And please, please don’t get me started again on the exhortations of the departure boards to ‘relax and shop‘.
I thought that was it – but then I noticed that on their feedback form that you have to tick the box to *stop* them from sending you junk mail. Any organisation that asks you to opt out of such nonsense (rather than opting in) is just asking for a kicking in my book.
When I get a formal response from EMA, I’ll publish it here. After all, I feel that they should have the right of reply to these points. And if Penny Coates, MD of East Midlands Airport happens to read this blog entry, then I’d be happy to publish her response on here directly.