Saturday, June 29, 2013

Service does make a difference: on airports

It's been a long journey to Thailand: more than 24 hours when counting waiting and transfer time. Even if the journey to a destination is part of the trip, it is not the most relaxing one, especially when you have kids.

Travel guide books seldom include a review of the airports - but maybe they should. Good service definitely makes a difference when traveling with a family. We took off from Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris, had a stop in Doha's airport and landed on the airport of Bangkok. 

Paris was a pleasant surprise: we were early for our flight and had to wait several hours in terminal 1, the oldest airport building that was recently renovated. The terminal offers all you need for the family: sufficient sitting areas, many bars, fast-food restaurants, large, clean restrooms well equipped for babies. We had a light dinner in the airport terrace restaurant with healthy, slightly overpriced but tasty food. We enjoyed the calm of the waiting room at the gate, where we could sit and relax while our youngest one played on a mini-playground. Most of all, we enjoyed the friendliness of the airport staff at counters, control booths and gates - unexpected in a large, impersonal airport like Paris.

Doha's airport on the contrary was a disappointment. Two years ago, when flying to Bangkok, we had an agreeable stop in Dubai's luxury airport: free trolleys to convey the children from one gate to the other, good coffee in the middle of a fake oasis. Transfers in Doha start with a lengthy bus ride from the aircraft to the terminal. The terminal itself is crowded. There are not enough sitting areas, no free trolleys, almost no shops and restaurants. We had to queue for a coffee, then queue again to access the restrooms. In a short, if you have to select a stopover on the Arabic peninsula, choose Dubai.

Bangkok' airport, our final destination, is modern, clean and full of friendly staff. We took a public taxi from the airport and less than 1 hour later, we arrived at our hotel in the city center. Happy to be there!