I just arrived at Brussels Airport an hour ago and figured I share some experience of the new check-in processes at what used to be Europe’s most convenient airport.
Given that we were told to arrive at least 3 hours before departure, I left my mom’s house at 5:50am for a 10:10am departure… (I have never been this early: it’s only 18mi to the airport and I was here in 30’ drive—I heard on the radio the infamous “Ring traffic” started 5’ after I passed Groot Bijgaarden at 6:15am.)
There were 4 security checkpoints:
1. First checkpoint after exiting the highway still before even reaching the airport and its parking areas: a policy crew followed by a military crew carrying automatic weapons. I got the wave-through…
2. Second checkpoint before going into the car rental return garage: a security guy in French (he couldn’t speak a word of Dutch) asked for my car rental agreement. (Found it on iPhone.) Got through in 2min
Then chaos as I walked to the terminals: half the check-ins are still in temporary garage, but today is the first day that main airlines are checking in at regular counters (half of them are open—terrorist area still under renovation). Most people didn’t know where to go. Lack of information. Luckily I had asked an official who told me: “go by foot three floors up through the parking to the check-in hall.”
3. Third checkpoint outside in a tent before you enter the terminal: only two scanners for all the luggage. Only 1/2hr wait for me but this will be mayhem soon… Under capacitated. Good that I had checked info: you MUST have your check-in information printed out on PAPER (no iPhones or electronic! Thanks to Frank who printed out my boarding past last night…). Glad I left my Ritchey bike in Meerbeke as it may have created issues to go through the scanners — my mother had told me “the news” had said to bring as little luggage as possible. Hopefully they will have figured this out by my next month’s visit…
I didn’t mind the queuing as I had plenty of time for excellent conversations with my neighbor passenger who’s a general manager for Bosch, the famous and largest automotive component supplier with 350,000+ people. (Bosh supplies all the tech for the Tesla self-driving technology and is now building a battery plant in the US that will open in 2020 and will produce batteries with action–radius of 1000km. Current Tesla batteries only go about 250mi or 400km I believe. He also believes we all will be driving fully electric 20-30 years from now. “All our technology for fully automated driving is operational already—we control your speed by satellite; it’s just a matter of cultural changes until all cars to automatic, administration and legal processes now.”)
I typically get lucky meeting interesting people when flying… In grade school they told us: “we reizen om te leren”= we travel to learn.
4. Then regular check-in process with fourth security check.
Was in airport lounge by 7:40am. Plenty in time; all goes well for a well-prepared and lucky man 🙂
Lucky timing for me: Today is the first day that regular check-in counters and the regular non-stop BRU-ORD United flight are operating at Brussels Airport since the attacks. Airport stepped up utilization from 50% to 80% today (they’re not organized as could be—they could use some capacity and queuing theory, or simple common sense/”gezond verstand”…) but happy and thankful for all the personnel that is bringing me back to my wife and kids today.
F*** terrorists, but I wonder how we will deal with all of this for the years to come…