I’m in SXF, Schoenfeld airport, Berlin.
It has so far not been a pleasent trip.
I bought budget tickets because the company I’m flying to see paid for them – you don’t spend other people’s money.
Ryanair charge 45 euros to print a board pass, so it’s important to get that done yourself; I remembered this yesterday evening, after gym. I don’t have a printer, the flight is on a Sunday, so I went to the airport via work to print there. It’d be nice if the airport had a printing service, but this (bloody obvious) idea seems to be a bridge too far, even after all these years, in every airport I’ve been in.
Most of the metro route to work is still out of action – it’s down for 45 days and there’s a bus service instead. I actually got the dates mixed up – I thought it was back in action the end of *this* month, but in fact there’s another month to go.
So I got that done – used up some of my buffer time – and then hopped on the metro to get to SXF.
Turns out there’s also a chunk of the S-Bahn line to SXF which is out of action and being replaced by a bus service (in fact, it comes back into action *tomorrow*).
So I read this, swear, because it’s getting a bit late, and I head out to get the bus.
Problem is, where’s the bus stop? I mean, *AT ALL*? there are no signs, no directions, there’s no information except in the station where it says “you can get the bus from bus stop 140”. No maps – and the bus stops are not marked, so you don’t know which stop is “140” anyway.
I’m standing outside the metro, looking at two bus stops and Lord knows if they have anything to do with the replacement bus service. They look just like normal stops. I’m at the crossing of a couple of major roads, and there’s probably bus stops dotted around all over the place. These are probably just two random stops.
So at this point in fact it is impossible for me to continue my journey. BVG completely fucked it up. “There’s a bus service!” “Great, where!” “We’ve hidden it! you’ll have to find it!!!”
I look at the metro map – I can retrace my metro route, then take a different metro route, which gets me close to the airport, bus then I need a bus to finish the trip.
I’m pretty sure there isn’t time for that, not now I’ve spent another 10 minutes trying to figure out what the fuck with the bus service.
So I hail a taxi and get to the airpot that way. 35 euro. The useless BVG ticket for the day was another 8 euro.
So now I’m in the aiport. I begin to think there’s some kind of systemtic weakness in German culture when it comes to signage. I can’t tell how to get from arrivals to departures. I have to *ask* someone.
THE TWO PLACES EVERYONE WILL NEED TO GET TO.
It reminds me of the absence of testing in software. Just writng the code nad then never thinking to check if it works. Build an airport, then never check if people can find out where they need to go.
(I later was looking for a bathroom. I found a sign – it was probably installed in the wrong airport – and I followed it. Eventually I found the bathrooms. “Staff only!” “Your bathrooms are up on the first floor!” “good luck finding them!”)
So I head over to security, do the thing, now I’m waiting for flight info.
I’ve been looking around at the shops.
It’s actual extortion, in the true and literal sense of the word, as opposed to me exaggerating.
See, we’re not allowed to bring water in. Then when you come to a shop on the inside where you can buy water, it costs quite literally more than twice as much as the same water outside the airport.
Now, extortion is where you force people to give you money.
You force people to surrender their water when they come in, and then you control the prices in the airpot, and you charge 100% more than outside the airport.
In fact, everything throughout the airport has the same price; there’s no competition, and that price is about 100% more than outside the airport. I presume the airport is controlling the prices, or they’ve issued a monopoly to a retailer here. A bar of ritter sport for example is 1.05 euro in the supermarket, but it’s 2.30 here. The Burger King here is I believe charging about 100% more than outside. I see the same price differential on all the chocolate I know the prices for.
A bunch of these shops have large signs reading “DUTY FREE”.
Extortion with deception. If you’ve got the former going on, the presence of the latter as well should not come as a surprise.
You tell people they’re not paying duty (IS there any duty on good produced within the EU anyway?) and then you charge them 100% more.
I *hate* this, with a deep, viscerial and undying passion.
People are here to make a trip. They will want to drink, eat, relax, get some choccie maybe for the trip, maybe something for a friend.
What’s being done is that the people here are being fucked over, *knowingly, specifically and deliberately*. They are being ripped off – *and the airport is totally down with this*. It has *chosen* this.
That… that choice, that deliberate decision, it’s repellent. It turns my stomach over. *How can you think and behave like that?* you also go out and kick dogs? do you *have* soeone in your life who loves you, or whom you love? how do you have that when your mind is like this? got kids? how do you treat them?
I remember seeing something even more like this back in Newark, in New Jersey. It’s a bad airport, I mean, the security is so physically rough you can call it mistreatment, there’s almost no shops, and little seating. It along with Gatwick are both on my personal no-fly list. I thought I’d get a plug converter for the flight, just in case they had US style sockets.
There’s *one* electronics shop. They want *thirty-five dollars* for a converter that sells for one dollar fifty on Amazon. Okkkay. I mean, there’s overcharging, and then there’s obscene gratitous deliberate abuse of customers. Do they really think they make more money selling one converter in a blue moon at an obscene price, than selling dozens at a reasonable price? it’s not just unethical, it’s nasty, stupid, short-sighted and unprofitable. Hey though – if you are nasty and stupid and you’re one of the guys doing all this, it’s no surprise you’re unethical too.
Coming back to SXF, honourable mention also must be given to the almost complete absence of power sockets, too. I ended up sitting in a stairwell, next to a plug socket there. I had to walk around for 20 minutes to find it.
My view is that airports don’t care about passengers. They deliberately and knowingly fuck them over. I *don’t* want to feel like I’ve just voluntarily gone along with extortion. It’s *not* a good feeling, thanks. Better experiences to spend my life having, you know, that having you fuck me over. It *does* spoil the trip, yes. So I can buy nothing here. It’s bad for me – my trip is less pleasent, no choccie, no water – and it’s bad for the airport, because they get nothing from me at all, and I will avoid SXF in the future.
This of course brings us back to the lack of competition in airports. This occurs because of the staggeringly profound regulation and State involvement in their construction.
The only safety people like you and me have is in *choice*. Whatever attacks choice attacks us, and makes us helpless, and then we get what we have here today.