Travelling regularly again between Brussels and Yorkshire has enabled me to renew my acquaintance with Leeds Bradford airport. The changes over the last five years are striking — though not all to the good!
For a start, it’s now impossible to drop someone off by car, or pick them up, without paying a parking charge — even if you aren’t parking! The only option is to park some 15 minutes away and walk (or wait for a shuttle bus) — not ideal in Yorkshire weather, or for disabled people. It would be nice to think that this is to encourage people to use public transport. But the nature of air travel, with its many early morning and late night arrivals and frequent delays, not to mention the variety of the area Leeds Bradford serves, means that this is unlikely. Instead, it smacks of trying to make a quick buck, or maybe even a cosy deal with the taxi company that has been given pride of place between the terminal and the car park (and bus stop) area. Another reason to suspect an ulterior motive is that a convenient lay-by close to the airport, where it would otherwise be feasible to drop someone off, is blocked by cones!
Inside, the airport is unrecognisable from a few years ago. The better-designed security check area is a welcome development, but after that, there is no direct route to the boarding gates. Rather, as in many airports these days, passengers have to wind their way, in carefully designed meanders, through a vast shopping area to get to the gates. Woe betide anyone in a hurry, or who can only walk slowly, let alone those who find it difficult to resist the temptations on offer.
It also reminded me of why I was right, over ten years ago, to take the arguments of the duty-free lobby with a pinch of salt. They claimed that the right of businessmen and other frequent travellers to a regular tax break on alcohol, perfume and tobacco was essential if small regional airports were to survive. Well, they seem to be doing very well thank you without an extra gift from the government!