Is Melbourne airport ready for the Commonwealth Games?

I arrived back in Melbourne this morning from four days in Kuala Lumpur with two work colleagues. Our flight arrived at the gate on time but we were kept from disembarking for over fifteen minutes while the aerobridge operator tried to maneuver the aerobridge to the plane door. Their poor efforts were watched by the planeload of people desperate for fresh air after a long flight. As seems to be usual with these things there were plenty of experts at the aerobridge with advice watching on but no one able to get it close to the plane. Once they did dock we heard one of them explain that the problem was that this aerobridge was too close to the second aerobridge at the gate and that’s why they could not get it closer. “We’ll know next time” they were heard to say. Okay but Tullamarine has been operating for decades.

Finally off the plane we were greeted with a mass of people at the Customs/Immigration counter waiting to be processed through. The line for foreign passport handlers was okay, it was the Australian passport line which snaked way back past the duty free store. I travel internationally frequently and this is the longest line I have ever seen at Melbourne Airport Immigration. Another 45 minute wait was much appreciated after a long flight and the long wait for the aerobridge to reach the plane. What frustrated the most was the number of Customs officers standing to the side or behind the desks looking on. They did not seem to be playing any role other than sharing anecdotes with each other. It would have been great to have more than four or five desks open. They seemed to have no plan for coping with the volume of passengers. The line was a mosh pit toward the back with no regulation. In most other countries this is handled much better.

While waiting for my 60 seconds at the Customs/Immigration desk I witnessed a Customers officer demean an Asian passenger. It was indiscrete behavior which deserved to result in a reprimand.

All in all not a good experience this morning at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport. It makes me wonder how they will cope with the Commonwealth Games travel influx in a few weeks. Based on today’s experience, Melbourne Airport needs to be avoided.

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