Liverpool Airport’s nasty little queue charge

David Whitley September 7, 2009 6

Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s money-making scheme

Last Thursday, I flew to Madrid from Liverpool Airport. Yes, I know the official name is Liverpool John Lennon Airport, but I suspect the peace-loving Beatle wouldn’t really want to be associated with something that causes so much pain, anger and aggravation.

Whilst there, I encountered one of the most extraordinarily nasty money-making schemes I have ever witnessed within the travel industry.


Easyjet check-in queue

First up, a little credit where credit is due. The queues for check-in (I was flying with Easyjet) were short and painless. This is possibly because I arrived two-and-a-half hours before the flight, but I’m prepared to accept that levels of staffing and training are perfectly adequate in this part of the airport.


Enormous security queue

Alas, from then on, it all went wrong. The queue to get through security was snaking around the building. We were stood in it for at least an hour and fifteen minutes, getting increasingly angry, and worried about missing our flight.

The really nerve-wracking aspect of the queue was that no-one quite knew how long it was. It snaked around corners and down stairs – for all we knew it could have been a four or five hour wait.


Fast Lane ticket machines

So amidst this atmosphere of fear and frustration, Liverpool Airport’s clever little scheme comes into its own. The long and winding queue is flanked by a legion of ticket machines, which offer the chance to join the special ‘Fast Lane’ for a “summer special” price of just £2.


Fast Lane psychology

What a brilliant plan; make the security queue so appallingly bad that people are frightened and angry enough to pay good money in order to jump it. And as more people jump it, those in the queue begin to fear that the Fast Laners are going straight to the front, thus making the normal queue even longer. So they feel forced to buy one as well.


Too many flights; not enough security staff

And then, when it gets to the point where everyone can finally see the end of the queue, they realise it’s just a separate queue that’s not really all that much faster anyway; it’s simply a case of splitting the payers and non-payers into two.

At the end of the line, the poor passengers are reduced to shouting and screaming at the one poor chap checking boarding passes. He protests, fairly convincingly, that it’s not his fault. There are simply too many ‘extra’ flights, and not enough security staff.


Appalling core service

It’s hard to believe this is sheer incompetence. Surely Liverpool Airport’s management knows that they’ve got a massive understaffing and queuing problem. Therefore, the only possible conclusion is that this is an act of greedy bastardry on an epic scale. Essentially, they’ve made their core service so atrociously poor that people feel forced to pay extra in order to make a futile attempt to sneak around it.


Further ideas for revenue generation

Well I have a few more ideas for Liverpool Airport to swell their coffers. Expect them implemented by the end of the month if the Fast Lane scheme is anything to go by.


  1. Don’t clean nine out of ten toilet cubicles, leaving them smeared with excrement and stinking like the elephant enclosure at Chester Zoo. Charge a special bargain rate of £2 to use the only remaining clean one.
  2. Replace the security scanners with shredders and flaming hoops. Passengers can then pay a megadeal price of £2 to not to jump through fire and have their bags lacerated.
  3. Adapt an old Scouse tradition: fill the car parks with spotty, unwashed youths who charge £2 “to watch your car, mister” rather than scratch the paintwork, smash the windows and steal the stereos.


Another alternative

Or, and here’s a radical idea, how about employing sufficient security staff so that queues are dramatically shortened? Who knows, passengers may then have time to spend money in the shops and restaurants. They may even decide that they wish to use the airport again, rather than go out of their way to avoid it.

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