Joining The Norwich International Brigade

I genuinely don’t like travelling on aeroplanes, and I really hate going from Norwich Airport. Most people I speak to feel the same…so let’s start with a stab at a top 5 peeves:

1. Norwich Airport charges £5 a pop…to use the airport. That’s in order to go through security into the departure lounge. Does any other airport do this? Actually yes, the massive commercial enterprises that are Knock, Waterford and Newquay airports. Now, only a cynic would say that these charges are simply there to attract ‘cheap’ flights.

2. Every time, and I mean every time, I go through security I get searched. Not quite as dramatically as last year in Schipol airport where I was, quite frankly, cupped, but still an early morning frisking I’d rather not have. And, while I’m on the subject, if I’m going to carry anything metallic onto a plane that’s a security risk, am I really going to put it through a metal detector?

3. I don’t use the car park, so I don’t really have a beef there, but don’t you think it’s a bit odd that airports are built on the outskirts of cities, yet the cost of parking is more than most inner city car parks? How does that get justified, other than because it can happen? And how does that make it right? And if you book a taxi, they have to wait outside the airport for you to call them, as they only get 5 minutes inside before they start getting stung as well.

4. The fact you can’t make your way into departures without going through the Eastern European style gift shop. Which is unmanned. And whilst well stocked with exorbitantly priced travel sweets and hilarious ‘bluffer’s guides’ books, does nothing for me about my life, as Morrissey might not say.

5. Cup of tea – £1.80. The fact you have to make it yourself – priceless.

But that’s far too easy, no? What would be harder/more fun would be a list of things to like about Norwich Airport?

1. Looking at the perspex box where confiscated items go to die. I enjoy this at any airport, and particularly enjoyed the box at Dublin earlier this year where there was a 5 foot long firework displayed. Again, hard to believe that anyone thought this would really work as hand luggage, but nowt so queer as folk and all that. Speaking of which, last summer, I noticed at Norwich, just before the weekly flight to Malaga, two confiscated tins of salmon. Which makes you wonder a) what sort of person considers tinned salmon as essential hand luggage and b) what sort of threat was actually posed to security…

2. Watching people shell out £5 for the airport development fee for the first time – hilarious!

3. There’s a ratio of around 1 staff per passenger. You may be ignored, but it’s not a bad ratio should you want a chat. As long as it’s not about the airport development fee. They don’t like talking about that.

4. There’s pretty much always somewhere to sit. The development fee has shelled out for a rather large lounge compared to the size of planes that go in and out of Norwich.

5. Norwich International. Words that go together like Polanski and childcare. The whole point of Norwich is that it is desperately non-international, so it’s all delightfully ironic to see the airport trying to be a hub of inter-continental travel, whilst all around is so incredibly domestic. More of this another time, but just be happy for now, that you can be in the car park of NIA and still not be able to see the terminal behind the smoking hut.


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