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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Southend Airport - first impressions

We took our first flight with Easyjet, from the new terminal at Southend Airport, over the Easter weekend. With one significant caveat, our overall experience was positive.

Arriving an hour and a half before our flight, we bypassed the short queue at the ground floor check in desk as we'd printed off our boarding cards at home, and ascended to the first floor departures area. Clearing security in a couple of minutes we then descended back down to the ground floor departures lounge and that was where we experienced the weak link with the Airport. There wasn't sufficient space for the passengers awaiting to board the three flights due to depart. It seemed that the lounge area was a similar size to a single gate area at Stansted. In fact, it was so crowded that it wasn't worthwhile attempting to buy a coffee or newspaper at the new retail outlets. People had to push and negotiate an exit from the Stobart Duty Free Shop. I appreciate it was Easter weekend and one of the three flights was delayed which added to the volumes of people waiting but, for some, it was quite a claustrophobic and uncomfortable experience. On balance, however, I also have to bear in mind that it was the first week of operation and some of the Easyjet staff were obviously unfamilar with the Airport lay out and procedures. Queuing to board was a little chaotic, but isn't it always with the budget airlines, and I suspect our short departure delay was due to this. I'm sure as the staff become more familiar with their surroundings the situation will improve but it's obvious that there is no capacity for additional flights until, or if, more space is created.

The real bonus was on return. The plane landed and after a short taxi to the stand we were soon disembarking en route to the new passport control area. With 4 Immigration Officers working there were no delays and we were on our short journey home within 5 minutes of leaving the Aircraft. Excellent.

So, overall, generally positive but not, at present, an Airport you can comfortably pass hours if you arrive too early for your flight.