Friday, February 17, 2006

Fear of flying

A new terminal opened at Madrid's Barajas airport on February 5. Architecturally, it's supposed to be quite spectacular--it was designed by Richard Rogers, the same guy who did the Pompidou Center in Paris. But I've been avoiding it--flying through it, that is--because I already find airports and check ins and security searches trying enough, and I fear this new terminal will make them more so. In the first week after it opened, the nightly news ran a regular segment on the delays, the lost baggage, the construction remains still in plain view, but those, I imagine, are just opening jitters. The real problem is accessibility--to get to the terminal on public transportation you have to get off the metro and onto a bus (from our apartment this comes after 2 changes and an hour long underground ride), and then on to another bus if your flight happens to leave from terminal TS4 rather than T4. Someday, there will be a metro stop directly at the new wing, but last I heard, the municipal and national governments were arguing about who should pay for it.

And speaking of airports, on a flight from Barcelona today, I was reminded of the rule of Spanish flying: the later in the day you fly, the more delayed your flight will be. Instead of getting some flights off on time, both Iberia and Spanair seem to let the little delays of the day pile up for all their flights. So by the time you get to a 5pm departure, like mine today, you can pretty much count on a half hour retraso. And if you happen to take the last flight of the day, as Geoff did last night, you can count on having the airport to yourself by the time you arrive.

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