The feeling one gets simply arriving at the airport terminal is as much a part of the holiday as arriving at the destination, which is why Gatwick's insidious gentrification has ruined mine.
I remember turning up with my parents at Gatwick Airport early, making it through security with plenty of time to spare (this was before you weren’t allowed things like liquids on aircraft and people checked their luggage into the hold which is what it's for) and perhaps looking at the CDs in HMV, having a McDonalds breakfast, or playing in the video arcade. The airport was a brilliant place and the things I’ve listed here are only airside.
‘Classic’ Gatwick had a Planet Hollywood and a simulator ride (both landside) – it was all good old fashioned fun, and who could forget going up on the roof of the south terminal to spot planes before joyously riding the monorail between both terminals?
So imagine my shock, as over the years I’ve watched all theses great things either close or last long enough to lose their magic and become almost ugly.
McDonalds is gone from the North Terminal, as part of a plan to ‘hipsterise’ the food offering there and Planet Hollywood is completly dead - apparently eating normal food surrounded by movie props isn’t cool anymore, but eating a kale superfood salad from Pret before a five-hour flight is a great idea.
The disappearance of HMV is a pain that keeps hitting me, as I forget it’s not there anymore almost every time I visit. What are you supposed to do when you have 40 minutes to spare and want to buy a new CD to listen to on the plane? Well, you’re out of luck, so enjoy the boring music-free nine-hour flight to Orlando with no new CD. You’ll arrive at the happiest place on earth feeling not quite as happy as you really ought to.
Don’t get me wrong there are a few classics in the airport that are still around, such as the Red Lion pub, one of the only pubs in the UK where it is socially acceptable to start drinking at 6am. There is a great smoking area outside the south terminal near the drop-off zone, and I find the addition of the airside Nandos in the south terminal to be a refreshing change of pace.
But all this doesn't stop me longing for the days of ‘Classic Gatwick' - also known amongst us airport aficionados at Clatwick. RIP Clatwick.
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