Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Italy Good, RyanAir Good, Stanstead Bad

Italy was wonderful, but the UK is feeling increasingly like a badly-run prison.

We used London's third airport (Stanstead) for the first time and found it grim. On a low traffic day with no alerts, clearing security took 35 minutes - poor signage and work flow, and 2 separate checkpoints. The second forced all passengers to remove their shoes for x-ray, causing mothers with kids a lot of hassle. In spite of this rigor, I noted three serious security vulnerabilities.

We flew Ryan Air for the first time. It's an excellent low cost airline with well trained staff that flies modern planes nicely adapted for short haul (I don't own their stock).

Italy was foggy, giving amazing views from the mountains of fog lakes, fog rivers, and fog falls. And we found a nice plot of land and - in a triumph of hope over experience - embarked on our third Italian real estate transaction (the last two aborted for highly Italian reasons).

Arriving back in Stanstead, we had to go through two passport checks - one on exit from the plane and one at immigration. Apparently illegal immigrants destroy their passports in flight, then refuse to tell immigration which plane they flew in on so they can't be deported back. That tells us Stanstead doesn't have CCTV on its gates.

Then the train link to London was down. Sigh.