Friday, April 29, 2011

Barajas Berating

The Madrid Barajas airport is a strange place.  This is my 4th time through the airport, and its morphed significantly since my previous visit years ago.  When I arrived Wednesday morning, I headed to the first ATM machine I saw to get some Euros to pay cab fare.  "Transaction Not Available" the machine told me after accepting my card, pin, and request for 110 Euros.  Ok.... I approached the INFORMATION desk and inquired if there were other ATMs.  In perfect English, I was directed to an area with 2 other ATMs. Great.  First one I tried - same bank as the "Not Available" produced the same result.  2 strikes so far.... hmmm. 3rd one had an American at it, I could see by the English screens, where it said "Please take your cash" and as the little door slid open to present cash, the ATM REBOOTED. A DOS screen appeared, with monochromatic text scrolling as the boot up routine initiated.  The American in front of me was confused and angry.  3 strikes.  Ill get a cab and have the hotel reception cash advance me so I can pay the driver... but thats another story for later. Never stay at the Holiday Inn Express Barajas Airport.  They know nothing about customer service or holding a secured reservation.

So this morning, I arrive at Terminal 2, and theres hordes of students, grouped together, sleeping, resting, flocking, bleary eyed, ready to go on their 3 day holiday I guess.  I was able to find the Air France check in desk, and a nice Spanish lady with a perfect English (British) accent checked me in for my flight, and gave me a "VIP Fast Track" pass, so I could bypass the mobs at security, and have 2 older gentlemen in white gloves usher me to my own personal security screening, where not a single other traveler was waiting - very strange and wonderful.  "You can leave your shoes on" they told me, but I assured them my shoes consistently set off metal detectors. "Would you care for some plastic socks?" the gentlemen politely inquired.  The young man running the baggage xray noticed the pound of dark chocolate in the side scan of my luggage, and he seemed worried that maybe it was plastique explosive or some kind of shaped charge.  I opened the bag to show him the dark chocolate, and his demeanor changed from slightly concerned to casual and friendly. 

The long walk from security to E75 was filled with closed shops, shuttered cafes, and multitudes of sleeping travelers on the grouped 5-in-a-row seats.  Not many conscious customers at 5am.  Various construction and remodeling projects blocked any clear route, and I was grateful the airport was dead & deserted or Id have been perplexed in the milling throngs after the slumbering travelers would have awakened.

Delta / Airfrance do a MUCH better job than Spanair, who I will never fly again after the last unpleasant experience with them.  10 minutes until boarding begins... I need to log out of this public terminal and head to the gate.  Hopefully there wont be any turbulence or mishaps enroute to Bangalore. Ya veramos (we ll see)


  1. i've also had trouble with those ATMs. they're usually out of service, and the one working one has a long line.

    seems the lesson is to show up with enough euros in your pocket to get you elsewhere, and then get cash.

  2. I think it is collusion between the cabbies and the union who re-supplies and maintains the ATMs!!!! =)

  3. ...and, I usually DO show up with 50 or so Euros in pocket, but DDF was just in Europe and stole my reserve of 20 and 50 Euro notes!


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