A warm welcome at John Lennon airport? Don’t make me laugh.
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression – someone should tell John Lennon airport!
I’ve just come back from a short break in Mallorca with my daughter. We went from Liverpool John Lennon airport, which I always prefer to Manchester as it’s local, easy to get to and it’s a lovely little compact airport.
Going to Mallorca was no problem. We checked in, bought some duty free perfume, had a coffee and off we flew. All jolly nice and civilised.
But coming back was a different matter altogether. Now, I’ve been through the arrivals section of John Lennon airport dozens of times, but never before have I done it as a Cultural Champion. So as we made our way, bleary-eyed at 4 in the morning, through the arrivals hall, I was looking at it as someone just arriving in the city for the first time. And what a crashing disappointment it is.
We were herded through a maze of metal into the most depressing arrivals hall I can ever remember being in. The ceiling tiles were dirty and damaged, the walls looked like they hadn’t seen a lick of paint for decades and the trolleys, the only ones I’ve come across that are chained up and you have to pay for, were rusty and damaged. The ladies toilets were sad and old looking with rubbish piled high in the waste bins.
We were then subject to a miserable passport inspection by an inspector who treated us as though we were suspects. I’ve had more courteous treatment at passport control when I was turfed off a train bound for East Germany by a guard with a gun back in the 80s.
I was completely depressed at the thought that this is the welcome received by people visiting Liverpool for the first time who arrive via the airport. Last year over 5 million passengers used Liverpool John Lennon airport. How many of these people got the same dispiriting impression I got on arrival?
The airport is in rude health, financially, and has already spent over £10 million on improvements, so surely some new ceiling tiles, a lick of paint, some nice new trolleys, clean modern toilets and a warm welcome from the arrivals staff isn’t asking too much? Let’s start the experience of Liverpool for our visitors as we mean to go on. Let’s show them the warmth that we’re famous for. And maybe a nice clean place for some post-flight nose powdering.
It’s not a lot to ask.