Thursday, 19 July 2012

First flight from Modlin

After seeing the airport on its open day, time to return to use it in earnest. Nowhere near as convenient as Okecie; it's 55km from our house. After the horror stories in the media about Modlin's opening day (especially about the 12 people not let on the Luton flight because of the slowness of security), we arrived 20 minutes before check-in opened. Others had the same idea - there were over 50 people in the queue for the flight to Luton in front of us. Check-in opened five minutes late, and the first people (a family of three) took a full 20 minutes to proceed to security. At this pace, there would be a return of what happened on Monday... The authorities took action. Suddenly, another three check-in desks were opened, and half an hour later we were air-side. At present, there is nothing air-side. It reminds me of Terminal Etiuda - the worst cattle-shed in the history of air travel, especially when your flight is delayed by seven hours and you are with two small children and its just before Christmas. No restaurants, no cafés, no newsagents, no bars, no duty-free shops - just a few over-priced vending machines. And worst of all - not enough seats at the gate for all the passengers due to board the flight.

Despite everything, Eddie and I boarded the flight on time (above), which departed on time, and landed at 'London' Luton on time. We got through passport control briskly, thanks to our use of the special lane for UK citizens with biometric passports. As it transpired, the machine didn't work, either for Eddie or for me or for the other bloke using the biometric passport lane, but it was so much faster than the other queues.

Time then to find our hire car. WizzAir passes its customers onto a website called CarTrawler, which gets good deals on car rental. I get a Hyundai i10 for ten days for £197 from EasyRent. (And a further £130 for zero-excess insurance cover - car hire companies claw back the low hire charges with extortionate fees for tiny scratches they insist were not on the car before you drove off in it.)  A bus takes us to a distant village where there's an airport car park and EasyRent's HQ. It's not just raining - the deluge is so intense that I can't hear what the woman at EasyRent is saying to me. "It's been like this since Easter," she explains, apologetically. A guy rushes us to the car under a large umbrella; while he's explaining how all the controls work, the driver's seat is sodden. There's no chance of inspecting the car for scratches or minor dings in this weather. We drive off towards London through a biblical downpour, the poor wipers barely able to keep up with the volumes of rain being deposited on the windscreen.

Eddie observes that England is visually richer than Poland, both the greenness of the landscape and the wealth of the houses, many of which are over a hundred years old.

We pass lots of bedraggled schoolchildren labouring home in the rain and realise that while Eddie's been on holiday these last four weeks, it's been term time in British schools, which continue to function until the end of this week. Shouldn't Polish schools have longer teaching terms? I blame Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, PiS premier whose only legacy was extending Polish school summer holidays from nine weeks to ten (and yes, he was a school teacher before becoming a politician). At a stroke, he cut the amount of tuition a Polish child receives by 2%.

And so to London, traffic so bad that I have cramp in my right shin from operating the clutch pedal. Finally we arrive at my parents' house; it's half past five UK time (half past six in Warsaw), seven and half hours after leaving home.


Anonymous said...

Hi Michael - nice post. Ewa and I were talking yesterday about the move to Modlin (which I shudder about every time I think about the trek).

I wonder what the big picture economically means. Let's see, Chopin was getting XXXPLN from these airlines per annum. Rather than lowering fees (they say they need higher fees than Modlin so they are as profitable as possible), they lost all of that revenue to a competing airport.

So, where does that leave Chopin in terms of lost revenue?

Also, Modlin should not have been allowed to open until there was a seamless method to get there - Metro to Train to airport. Concur with how you compare it to the pig sty called Etudia. Another balagan that would have been avoided.


AndrzejK said...

Hang on. Marcinkiewocz's main achievement was providing a smoke screen for Jaroslaw Kaczynski which he did admirably by doing absolutely nothing. School reform was of course down to Giertych. I am surprised that Giertych did not remove Pan Tadeusz from the school curriculum given that Mickiewicz's father was Lithuanian and his mother a Chasid. Then again Giertych is not a Polisg surname. What a strange world the pseudo narodowcy created.

We will see how PiS and Radio MaRyja will react to the signing of the joint declaration by the Polish Catholic Church and the Patriarch of Moscow.

adthelad said...

Oh no, a whole week less of school!! I suppose that means Poland is going to lag even further behind the UK's astronomically high standards of secondary school education.

Anonymous said...

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