Mon, 18 Dec 2017
at Piarco International Airport,
Trinidad and Tobago
Unless you’re willing to stump up an extra $150 plus transfers for a few hours’ respite, I definitely can’t recommend POS for an overnight. Rumours of a cheap baggage storage facility were easily debunked on clearing landside as staff informed me it is no longer open, and there is no facility. Very little is open after 9pm and there is only one shop airside and one landside that does coffee that isn’t from a Nescafé instant machine - and even then there are only a couple of places that have one of those! Food is fairly cheap and there are ATMs but gifts are expensive and low in quality. Most stores opened at 4am except one which had a couple of branches and sold slightly better but way overpriced gifts/sundries like $30 for a pillow. We were advised against travel to downtown both for safety and that little to nothing would be open at night. There is a seating area landside with charging points, but it’s blasted with excessively cold A/C and faces a large advertising display on full brightness. Airport staff had the audacity to tell me I had to leave this lone seating option because I was eating a sandwich, and no food or drink is allowed - despite it being about 1am and there being no alternative. At around 2am a fight of some sort broke out among airside staff at a nearby security checkpoint and police took perhaps 15-20min to arrive which I assume is about double the time it takes to circumnavigate this tiny airport. Despite this being a tiny island nation with a tiny airport and that I was on a visit of less than 6 hours, there’s a lot of paperwork and process with landing card, departure card and customs declaration, and to wrap up what turned out to be a worse account than I first remembered, baggage handlers actually failed to unload one of my checked bags until I had baggage services get them to go back and check the hold. A local told me Tobago is beautiful but Trinidad best avoided. The airport certainly is.
Mon, 18 Dec 2017
at Tocumen International Airport,
I connected in PTY twice in the last week and both times I found the satellite with gates around #30 full of people and very hot as though the A/C wasn’t working, while the other areas of the terminal were at a good temperature. Both gifts and food are significantly overpriced, which came as a surprise. $4 - $6 for a bottle of water, nearly $30 for a soft toy. The first time, my connecting flight changed gates and I couldn’t find it on the screens, nor was it announced. I couldn’t reach airline staff at a nearby gate because of a security blockade and security staff told me to speak to airline staff at another gate because they simply didn’t know anything. At another gate, airline staff did help, but blamed the airport, and told us the new gate, though incremented by one, was at the other side of the terminal and I should hurry because the flight is already boarding. Certainly not the best airport experience I’ve had in 20 years of travelling by air.