Look At It This Way _ September 5, 2014

People's favourite Blackpool airport

People's favourite Blackpool airport

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Sometimes I just want to hit the telly – even it means having to retune it yet again.

Travel expert Simon Calder triggered my fight rather than usual fright and flight instinct when holding forth about Blackpool Airport’s future.

It didn’t even come close to faint praise. Basically it was good enough for locals but who else used it? Good luck with getting a buyer, Balfour Beatty.

And there was I thinking of asking Boris Johnson if he fancied relocating his Thames Estuary airport to just off the Irish Sea.

The irony is Blackpool Airport has, for the third time in recent years, been ranked in the top six (third place) out of 35 airports in the Which? survey of passengers. 
Heathrow (T1 and 3), Stansted and Luton languish at the bottom.

It’s self evidently doing something right, Mr Calder.

Blackpool was learning to fly while many other towns and cities were learning to walk before they could run.

The UK’s oldest aviation site deserves a bit of respect.

All the big talk of old about moving away away from 
major hub airports should have paid off for Blackpool by now. We should be going places in every sense.

We should have foreign golfers heading our way in their hundreds – and ladies of Spain tripping the light fantastic in the Tower Ballroom.

I should be able to fly to Newquay – without having to go via Manchester.

We should be utilising every spare scrap of land ... 
because people in posh new housing estates springing up everywhere still want to fly somewhere else.

The Pontin’s site had the potential to deliver the ultimate high-de-high boost to airport expansion. And perhaps it’s time we stopped carping at the £10 development fee. It has been invested, according to the airport website, in taxiway and runways, car park extensions, security improvements, new fire and ops centre, upgrades of passenger amenities.

And those who want the convenience of their car on departure and arrival don’t have to catch a shuttle bus from miles away or fork out a fortune to find the nearest car park.

The fund throws in parking for 15 days. Even if I usually get the car park that looks like a field.

It still beats the unmitigated misery of flying from Manchester Airport.

Blackpool Airport even makes the hassle of shoes off, cram those handbags in carry on cases, girls, less onerous.

I like the staff, the banter, history, informality. It’s streets apart in terms of customer service. Even the streets nearby are named after pioneering aviators who came here – some as early as 1909.

Blackpool Airport has a great future – in the right hands. It’s up to the council to exert every last bit of clout from its paltry stake to secure that future. It’s not just an airport but a village, a hub for a host of allied operators, employers, support staff, businesses on the fringe.

We need to invest in the future – we owe it to our airport’s past and its present passengers and staff.

Blackpool’s become an 
international airport the hard way. Few handouts, lots of setbacks.

I remember the heady 
excitement of the first regular foreign flights when all the staff mucked in and they even wheeled out a Blue Bus to keep us dry rather than let us do a short walk in the rain to the aircraft. One chap had welcomed us, issued our boarding passes, manned the old duty free, helped us board and waved us off.

I half expected to find him in the cockpit. I’ve never forgotten him as when I asked what was the best booze buy in 
duty free he laconically replied that if he was contemplating suicide he’d buy the rum. It wouldn’t have got him far in the feel good factor Which? survey stakes but it beat our usual manic Manchester Airport driver who would regale us with reasons why today was the worst day to travel, our hotel had a norovirus outbreak, the weather was awful, crime was up and Iceland’s volcanoes were having a fit of the vapours.

Left me fuming. And he expected a tip. How about consider another career: scriptwriter for Final Destination meets Benidorm?

Joys of a day in a beach hut

I spent Wednesday at a beach hut in St Annes – ultimate room with a view.

My mum said we could have had two nights at Premier Inn under the latest saver deal for a similar price but it wouldn’t have been half as much fun. And we didn’t find Lenny Henry gloating over getting there first.

Even under overcast skies – and we caught the most glorious sunset – it was fabulous. St Annes at its best, too. Flower beds in full bloom, boating pool open, little train running, cinema showing Lucy for £3.50 a seat, local pub turning over healthy trade – and I rediscovered the joys of flying a kite. A tiny one. I told passers-by it was very big and far, far away.

We had a proper grown-up picnic – and marvelled at the amenities in our hut: fridge, microwave, heater, blankets, kettle, complimentary drinks, loads of thoughtful touches.

Number 38 beach hut became a home from home but with a decidedly superior view. When I win Pre-Bonds I want to buy one as a writer’s retreat. Ten hours there recharged my batteries – apart from my Kindle’s. I like to play by the book...