If you want to see a bit of the world, airports are like death and taxes – unavoidable. Fortunately our transit through London’s horrid Gatwick Airport on our way to Mexico, was mercifully brief, despite the additional passport screening required by the US department of Homeland Paranoia (making four sets of document checks at Gatwick alone). I even got through security without being pulled for possession of Haribo Goldbears or a digital camera.
Our First Choice flight was remarkably pleasant. The seats weren’t too cramped, the in-flight entertainment worked and the food was actually quite pleasant for a change. One of the drawbacks for travelling outside of the European Union for us Brits is having to fill in stupid immigration forms, which are always printed in tiny typefaces especially for the middle-aged. This time we only had to fill in two with the ‘betting shop pens’ supplied by the airline, one for immigration and one for customs. No health declaration or passage through a thermal imaging arch at Cancun Airport this time as the panic over Swine Flu had abated since our last visit (Hang on didn’t 2009’s epidemic start in Mexico!)
Mexicans love bureaucracy and arriving at Cancun, a very pretty immigration officer happily swiped and stamped our passports, stamped the first form twice, tore it in half and tucked the second half back into the passport with a warning not to lose it as we would need it on the way out. I have a horrible idea that, despite the computer age, some poor soul has the equally pointless job of sticking the two halves back together and filing them after visitors leave. Baggage reclaim was of course total chaos as drugs dogs (I know what sort of idiot would import drugs to Mexico) slobbered all over our cases, before the baggage handlers lovingly hurled them at the carousel. Mexican Customs have at least made the effort to make their screening a bit more like a game show. After they X-Ray your gear, tear your form in half and hand you back the part with the instructions on how to fill in the form (what on Earth would you want it for?), you have to press a button on their desk. If the screen goes green you are free to go, if it goes red you get to open your bag. (On the way out of Mexico they have the nerve to charge a$65 departure tax to pay for all this!)
Once past all that nonsense you get to run the gauntlet of porters pretending to be from your holiday company who want to charge you for wheeling your case about 100 yards to your tour bus before getting to sit for about an hour waiting for the rest of the passengers to escape the airport’s administrative log jam.
Little wonder that by the time we got to the hotel (and filled in yet another bloody form) we were ready for some of these!