I rely pretty heavily on Stansted Airport,northeast of London and about a half-hour drive (or train ride) from Cambridge. It has direct (albeit7:00 am Ryanair fights) to Maastricht for 20 gbp each way, and is a nice hub for vacationing. There aren’t any US flights yet, although they are promised in the near future.
In the meantime, though, the process of flying in and out is becoming increasingly difficult, expensive, and irritating.
- Drop-off fees: The airport has a drive-by lane across the front of the building, which was limited, then closed, early this year. Motorists are redirected around to the underground entrance, where a ‘kiss and drop’ loop has been set up. The problem is that they are charging 2 gbp ($3.00) for even a 3-minute traverse of the loop to drop off or pick up a passenger. Short term parking costs 2.50 gbp: this is an absolutely appalling fee to extract from every motorist.
- Advertising Captchas: Ryanair has long had ‘captchas’ on their site, assuring that their pricing is only available to customers and not to aggregators. Recently, they’ve begun to use these for advertising, asking customers to type in the ad copy in order to access the site. I don’t mind verifying that I’m human, but typing in a promotional phrase is really irritating. (Although the 50-questions “No Ryanair Talk, luggage, insurance, shuttle, etc, etc” is also annoying. As is their policy of charging for their Android app.)
- Low-price parking guarantee: It’s not cheap to park at Stansted, but at least the agents at Holiday Extras offer a clean and simple guarantee. So, when I found a lower price on my parking within 24 hours of booking, I called. Although I met the conditions, I also met one of their 14 fine print exceptions, which pretty much cover any conditions where I might actually exercise the guarantee. Customer service said I’d have to write the company, the company replied that they pay hundreds of people each year so, while there really is a guarantee, it doesn’t apply to me.
Thus, I’m excited that Cambridge airport has decided to start Amsterdam flights via Darwin airlines (also to Milan, Paris, and Geneva) on September 2, 2013. It looks pricy at just over 100 gbp one-way, but I’ll watch how things develop