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This is a tale of two airports, as the experience of arriving here is totally different to departing.
The approach to the airport as you arrive is from the South-West, giving terrific views of the beaches on final approach. After landing you walk from the plane (no jetways here) to the immigration hall in the Arrivals area. This is well cooled by air conditioning and the staff here quietly go about their tasks of getting you into Barbados. Try not to be held up by all the passengers still filling out their immigration paperwork after a 10 hour flight from the UK. Once through immigration it's a fairly standard passage through baggage reclaim and out into the humid atmosphere outside.
The next step for most passengers involves a transfer to a hotel / resort. As all of the coaches used by tour companies are too small to take everybody's luggage, this travels behind in a large van!
Leaving through this airport should be a reverse of the arrivals process.
Forget it. It's hell . . . . .
The Departure terminal is just a big roof with a wall of check-in desks set back from the set-down area. All open plan. No air conditioning (and it's 3:00 in the afternoon and it's HOT!). Passengers arriving at the Departure "Hall" could have to wait about 40 minutes before the luggage van arrives. Off comes the luggage in a big scrum and everyone leaves for either the BA or Virgin desks for their flight back to London. Note: Some of these comments do not apply to passengers returning to the USA or Canada.
If departing passengers arrive at least 2 hours before departure the wait times for check-in are quite short.
After shuffling along the long and winding queue. After sniggering at the stressed women asked to re-pack their bags within the weight limit for the cabin class you arrive to finally check-in and get your boarding card. Whilst checking in look up at the long row of circulating fans in the roof above the check-in desks. The staff get some cooling whilst passengers have to sweat it out. Nice.
Passing airside you are granted the privilege of some air conditioning and a few shops. Be careful to check all of the duty-free outlets as prices vary from shop to shop. The food outlets are fine - if you can get a seat at a table. Space here is limited. There are, however, plenty of opportunities to rid yourself of Barbadian dollars in the tacky tourist shops. The Departure Hall has a common area for all gates. This would be fine if there was an efficient tannoy system that announced the correct gates at the correct times. The "bing-bong" that preceded any announcements was clearly heard by everyone in the hall. It's a shame that the announcements themselves could be heard by nobody! It was truly awful. This experience was getting so bad that it was becoming comical.
The final problem of boarding your flight becomes pretty stressed if you're returning to London. BA and Virgin flights are at adjoining gates and leave within 30 minutes of each other. 700 people all thinking they're in the right queue for their plane is hilarious to watch! BA called for the last two remaining passengers after they were about to close their gate and found that they were in the Virgin queue!
Grantley Adams International airport - better to arrive than leave.