Let’s put it on the table now – the airport it going through an upgrade – therefore until complete the airport will have limitations. How poorly these limitations are, regardless of any ongoing works reflects badly on Melbourne as a budding international city of almost 4 million inhabitants.
At present Melbourne International Airport could be considered poor if it were titled Mildura International Airport. At least in Mildura there is likely to be a shop selling fresh orange juice.
Having spent most of the past 6 years living internationally, I have only ever passed through Melbourne Airport on infrequent trips back home. The problem with infrequent travel is that your forget some of the details that are important of the place you visited just a little too long ago to recall whether there is anything more than a crappy sandwich bar once you have passed through the gates.
As Bids pointed out on The Banter – the domestic terminal is brilliant in terms of the culinary options available and this is partly due to the fact that you are generally free to roam around right up until your flight is ready for boarding.
The international side of things is very much different. One you pass through the gates, there is no going back. We all know this as a standard rule; however some extra signage wouldn’t go astray. A simple warning sign alerting the traveller to the fact that if you wanted to eat before boarding your 23 hour flight it’s probably best to do so now. Eat before having your expensive bottle of eau du cologne taken from your possession for being 20ml the wrong side of 100. Eat before being x-rayed to see what is on your person yet still have a random person feel you up. And eat before finally having a random explosives test carried out on you.
All this just for the privilege of sitting in a seat for the next 23 hours that for anyone standing over 6 feet at best could be described as tight and at worst require and appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon to talk about the knee replacement you will require after your flight.
How can Melbourne International Airport offer one solitary cafe in its departure lounge with poor choices at expensive prices?
However the biggest joke is the claims of Melbourne Airport that it is a world-class shopping destination.
On our return to Melbourne, nothing improved. The constant queuing that is required to leave the airport is a real welcome to any international guests coming to Australia for a visit. It’s embarrassing.
If you feel inclined you to buy duty-free you will queue. There is a card to complete for all passengers to distract you from the passport queue. Then having had this card checked 100 meters behind at passport control another person checks it to enter a tiny claustrophobic baggage hall, the result another queue forms. You are then directed through a thin passage – forming a queue – to reach the baggage carousel. After collecting your bags another queue is needed to be shuffled to the correct customs gate. At this point I overheard a British passenger say “This is the worst airport in the world”, its hard not to agree. If you have items to declare you will queue again.
Is there any chance of a rail line to the airport Premier? Not likely. If you are getting a taxi you will queue, if you have friends of family meeting you, there is a queue at the car park auto-pay station. A 23 hour journey has just become 25 and you have been in the country for 2 hours.
So remember treat Melbourne Airport as if you have never been to another airport in the world and you will probably be surprised at all its comforts and orderly nature. Just close your eyes and don’t look at the clock when you get to your destination as you might realise that perhaps Australia isn’t the best at everything.