Madrid Airport Stuck in Low Gear

You might remember our baggage disaster, reported on these pages (by the way, thanks for the great comments). Well, three months later, almost to the day, believe it or not, we got our bag back (just as we were still wrangling about getting paid for the lost contents). Funny thing is, even though we didn’t go to Madrid, our bag did, judging by the multitude of tags. Now I can see what the problem was.

It turns out Madrid’s $8B shining new airport is a logistical nightmare: it has 24-minute treks between terminals, and one of Europe’s worst flight-delay records among other problems. The international terminal alone is two buildings that sit 1.6 miles apart, connected by rail. Not too surprising, for the world’s largest airport terminal.

This means that there are delays for bags, too. At best, it will take your bags 15 minutes to get to the nearest carousel. Handlers are trying to double the speed of the conveyors, to make up for the long distances.

I’m guessing our bag was lost somewhere within the 8.5 million-square-foot facility (that’s larger than the entire square footage of NYC’s 19-building, 22-acre Rockefeller Center). What one wonders, however, is how this was supposed to benefit passengers, rather than some architect’s fantasy.