Advantages Very easy to check in, few delays, nice staff
Disadvantages Looks like a car park!
Barbados airport. Certainly not a lovely introduction to a beautiful island. OK, so it's not terrible, and there are some very enjoyable parts of the airport, but it looks a bit like a multi-storey car park. The kind of thing you'd find in Central Manchester that was built in the 1970sGetting there...
British Airwaws, BWIA(British West Indian Airways), Liat(Caribbean Domestic), and many other small airlines fly to Bridgetown Airport, as it is called. Most of the aircraft parked outside on the ramp are cramped turboprops but Liat and Caribbean Star do have some comfy Bombardier ones.Like most Caribbean islands, it is too small to support a long runway. So, you have to close your eyes during takeoff and prey that you won't hit the five-metre fence at the end of the runway which juts out to sea. Once, I was flying Liat and the plane flew only a metre over the fence.
On Arrival...As you arrive, the first thing you notice, apart from the amazing heat, is the band playing in a corner. They play traditional Caribbean music, and it really does feel great to hear this after you arrive. It sort of wakes you up. And don't forget to give them a tip - make sure you have $$!
You move through the confusing network of corridors, and eventually find immigration, where the woman gives you some evil looks. They look at your passport, but if you don't have it ready then they get amazingly stroppy. So you keep walking after that straight in to baggage reclaim, no walking.All the bags arrive on one of two conveyors, where you will find armed security guards standing, watching your every move. Take your bags, put them on a trolley (which could incidentally be found at Heathrow in the 60s) and make your way off. Go through immigration.
Immigration...Here, they are ademant to at least feel everyone, depending on the guard on duty. Some just sit there, looking dehydrated, but others like to get the women to strip off. And apparently, there's a gay man, who likes to see all the men in the flesh! Not really.
But, I will warn you, they are tight with security, and check that everyone is clean. Barbados, you see, has big problems with drugs and they are worried that bad substances are being brought in from other islands or countries.Leaving the Airport...
There are regular bus services to the airport, but most are the cowboy buses. You feel like you're travelling with assylum seekers, but it's OK, because a) It's cheap and b) It takes you exactly where you want to go. It's kind of a Taxi-Bus really.There are taxis as well, although these cars are often a bit of a mess nad the drivers... worrying. Yes, I know some are fine, but you can never tell. But they are reasonably cheap, but for the same kind of service, I would recommend you a Taxi-Bus.
Feeling Hot...You'll find a drinks area available outside the airport. You can ask for water, which should be free, but be careful - they try and charge you a 25C charge for a cup, which they shouldn't because they get them for free, so tell them you refuse to pay that.
You can get a variety of other drinks, but they often turn out to be quite expensive and not particularly good. Also, make sure you don't get ice in your drinks, as the water in Barbados isn't quite up to scratch. If you must have ice, ask for purified ice.Money...
Yes, you will be needing some money. You'll find exchange kiosks at the airport, offering, as usual, a terrible rate. The best idea is to just change a small amount to get you to your hotel and then exchange some money in one of the banks, or maybe your hotel will have a better rate.You're in Barbados, so enjoy your stay! Why not find out more from my opinion Ahhhhh... on Barbados in general?
Oh dear, your time up, well, better get back to the airport, you don't want to miss your flight.Getting back...
You don't realise how ugly the airport is until you walk through the front entrance. I say entrance, but there is no door. What it is, it's like a concrete parking block, with most floors having walls up to the waist, and little circle windows on the 'complete' walls.There were plans to paint it pink, but they were rejected, as they believed it would make it worse. Thank goodness. If anyone lives in Portsmouth, or has been there, have you seen the Tricorn Shopping Centre? Well, it looks a bit like that.
Check-In...At the nice bright orange desks sit all happy, friendly the staff waiting to check you in. The only desk which stands out is the British Airways one, which, surprisingly, is blue. Maybe the staff decided that the bright orange was blinding them.
The staff are not miserable here, though, and the check-in area is a bit like a shopping arcade - you have all the different airlines' logos sticking out of the wall like little signs - it really is extremely hilarious!After that...
After you get your boarding pass, you may feel slightly peckish. So make your way up the stairs, and why not go in to the restaurant? Here, they serve a typical meal at a reasonable price, and it's not that bad. You can also get a drink, but only if you're flying.Or you may want to sit down on the 'nice-and-comfy' concrete banches which are positioned nicely throughout the airport. I suggest you take a cushion if you want to remain comfortable. Ever sat on rock? That's exactly what it feels like.
Delays...The flights from Barbados Airport are rarely delayed - the airport is not very busy and they always have lovely weather, so there's nothing to cause problems apart from things like overbooking. So keep your eyes on that huge departure board.
Duty Free...Yes, there are some shops there, all selling little souveneirs which are very nice. There are t-shirts and all sorts of other things you'd expect. You'll find tradition wooden carvings and also a masssive selection of postcards to send last-minute.
Airport Tax...Yes, you do need to leave a little money to pay for the maininance of the airport (or perhaps some pink paint!). If you don't pay the tax, then you aren't going nowhere. So make sure you have the money with you, in cash, ready to pay and get your passport stamped.
Boarding...As you say your final goodbyes, they will be drifting across the ramp towards your aircraft which you will board via stairs. Your passport and passes will be checked and after watching the safety demonstration, you will take off.
Disabled people...The airport is adapting slowly to the new rules about disabled people, but it is taking time. A few ramps have appeared and there is a lift somewhere, but apart from that, that's about it for people in wheelchairs. You do, however, get a porter to yourself!
Cleanliness and toilets...The airport is clean, and there are always cleaners around. The toilets are clean and fine. You'll tind a few toilets round the airport, but you won't see as many as you see at Heathrow, as they are worried about crimes and things in toilets.
In Flight Entertainment...Why not get out your laptop, and have a look through some of my opinions. You may want to find out about Eurosport television, or Monopoly, the board game, or perhaps you'll need some groceries when you get home? The read up my opinion on Waitrose! Or wait for me to write about BWIA!
You should enjoy your stay in Barbados and the airport looks pretty horriffic, but the service you get is OK, so there's no complaints from me on that front. If you've got any details you'd like to add, then don't hesitate to leave me a comment.
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