Belfast International Airport: Ever get the feeling we’re being fleeced?
It used to be a bittersweet experience, with hugs, handshakes, kisses and occasional tears.
Now it’s merely a bitter one, laced with anger and a nagging feeling that you’ve been fleeced.
Airport visitors have had a tough time for years. You can’t park at Belfast International unless it’s on their terms — and at their rates. You can’t enjoy food or drink unless it’s at their cafes and restaurants — and the duty free shops are no longer the bargain-fests they once were. Now you have to cough up £1 just for stopping to let someone off.
Not only that, but there’s also talk that you’ll soon be charged for using the luggage trolleys.
Now merely being there can cost £1. Not a huge amount of money, of course, and how often will most of us have to pay it; half a dozen times a year?
But for those arriving at the airport formerly known as Aldergrove, that’s not the point.
For years airlines have striven to find novel ways of squeezing that little bit extra out of long-suffering passengers.
Now the airports themselves are following suit — to such an extent that even those who aren’t actually using it are paying for the privilege of merely travelling within its environs...
Even if, like me, that means driving from the drop off zone into the wrong car park, then up a one-way road, before, at last, making my escape.