Berlin’s new airport delayed

Lordy – Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport is NOT going to open on 3rd June after all. With less than four weeks to go it seems that fire protection services are not going to be in place in time. A new opening date has yet to be set.

On the one hand one of course sympathises, but on the other it’s got to be a world-class omnishambles for the planners to get so close to the opening ceremony to discover such a cock-up. Let’s hope no such googlies arrive on London 2012′s door at this late stage – it would really really spoil some world-class schadenfreude!

Be a Pilot for £69

It is common for companies that operate pilot training simulators to rent their facilities to the public. The problem is that sessions can be quite expensive. The facilities that professional pilots require for training are sophisticated and cost a great deal to operate and maintain.

A company called I-Pilot offers a rather stripped-down simulator which is aimed purely at non-professional pilots. They say that the experience of flying is “similar” to that of flying a Boeing 737 but that their systems are not authorised by Boeing – and, no doubt, they are a great deal cheaper to buy and operate as a result.

A twenty-minute session including a take-off, short cruise and landing costs just £69 which is good value considering competitor’s charges and how realistic the experience is.

The company has an existing unit at The Bluewater Shopping Centre and is about to open one at Westfield in London.

Not a bad idea for Christmas….

Security versus Sense

The headline was a Daily Mail classic, “English passengers forced to show passports when arriving in Scotland”. Even the best endeavours of the Daily Mail could not make this into an anti-Scots story though because, rather reluctantly, they had to admit that Scottish travellers arriving at English airports could also have to show passports.

When the Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, arrived at Prestwick last week, he was subjected to a routine check by Strathclyde Police who asked for his passport. Specific legislation allows the police to confirm the identity of people passing through any UK port.

We suspect that police exercise this right fairly regularly as a way of maintaining it. Our experience is often that staff at quiet airports can be more difficult than those at busy airports which might also explain why the police at the under-used Prestwick were eager to identify the inoffensive Mr Grayling.

Mr Grayling said, “It is utterly and completely unacceptable for any police force to make identity checks on passengers travelling within the UK.” He added that this unnecessary behaviour “simply undermines the credibility of our security legislation”.

We wholeheartedly agree. We all support sensible actions to stop terrorism but it is nonsense to allow road and rail passengers to travel without any check and make random checks on air passengers.

Governments instinctively like to control and the Police will never voluntarily give up any right so we can only hope that Mr Grayling remembers his words should he ever take office.

Miami Airport Need Not Worry

The comedian Paul O’Grady was detained on his arrival at Miami Airport and questioned for over two hours by Immigration Officers who seemed to think he was travelling under a fake identity and was actually Cuban.

Whilst one could forgive an Immigration Officer for not immediately recognising Mr O’Grady’s scouse accent, it is incredible that they should hear his accent, see his pale skin and jump to the conclusion that he must be Cuban. It is not as if there aren’t any Cubans in Miami…

An American website has suggested that the only logical explanation for the confusion was that Immigration Officers were concerned Miami might be slipping in the “America’s Worst Airport” contest and wanted to ensure their number one position.

They need have no fear. This is a contest Miami has won easily for many years and – unfortunately for those who have no choice but to use it – seems certain to win for many more.