Thursday, 20 December 2012

Every Journey Begins With A Single Step

Note: I am not Dick Puddlecote.

Thank you to Dick for inviting me to comment at his blog, I hope to bring you some useful travelling information for smokers drawing on my experiences as a business travelling bear.

To introduce myself, I am a Project Manager for an international business concern and spend more than 50% of my time travelling to clients around the world. I enjoy red wine, tobacco and am an Arsenal fan for my sins, but don't let that put you off.

I have some notes on smoking policies at airports and other venues in places including Singapore, Dubai, Australia and America amongst others, and have many stories to tell as well as expecting many more in the future. I have only just started to collate notes on what I have seen before after talking via email to Dick, but I shall be making sure to share whatever observations I gather on my travels more in the future.

For a taster, why don't I begin with my home airport of Birmingham because every journey begins with a single step, as they say.

Birmingham airport, unbeknown to a lot of occasional travellers, now boasts a smoking balcony which is unusual in Britain but not in the rest of the world. This, for the observant, is advertised on boards outside the airport so keep your eyes peeled on the way in. What they don't tell you is that shortly after opening this facility, they decided to put an entry code on the door.

The balcony is located through a door on the right hand side when entering the Meriden bar. You can get the code at the bar. However, you appear to have to be a customer to get the code which can be expensive and best avoided if on a budget. It seems to change every couple of months and was 1121 a couple of weeks ago. I will update when I can. Note that if you stand by the door, the constant traffic will ensure you get out there without the code because, contrary to what you are told by newspapers and others, people like to smoke and footfall is very busy. Smokers are also very approachable too, so people who have been out there or returned will only be too happy to share the code even if it is a quiet day.

To stay close to home for now, here are a couple of brief tips about travelling to airports in Germany, particularly Munich.

Unlike other German airports, Munich airport does not sell EU paid cigarettes. Also, if you look at the official website, it tells you that Bavaria is most strict on the smoking ban and you cannot smoke in the airport anywhere. This is completely untrue. In common with other German airports, some areas have Camel smoking cabins. There are also some smoking rooms with decent seating and as comfortable surroundings as we can hope for these days. Frankfurt and Dusseldorf airports have just as agreeable places to smoke indoors.

I hope that this will have been informative as a cut out and keep starting point, I have a couple more posts in the pipeline but would welcome any comments questions or hints about destinations you could share with me. My articles will be tagged under Bear Tripper for your future reference.

Happy travels!


nisakiman said...

Firstly, welcome to DP's blog, BT. This is an excellent idea. It could well turn into a very comprehensive travellers database if there is a steady input from the blog's readers. Most of this info can be found, but not easily, so a searchable database where all the info is gathered would be very useful. For instance, your mention of Munich. Most people would not know that there is a smoking facility there. But your info changes all that. This could be the smoking traveller's first stop before he leaves! :) Knowledge is power!

Bear Tripper said...

Thank you. It was Dick's idea after he heard me wittering on about smoking areas in airports, myths about various smoking 'laws' around the world, hotel rooms, etc etc. I get frustrated when going to a new airport or place as smoking information is, as you have pointed out, not easily available. Munich was definitely one such place. I had a 3 hour layover and was not familiar with the airport so took a wrong turn and couldn't get out through security. As I went through passport control there were the Camel smoking cabins in departures! A very nice surprise. As I was walking to the gate later, I found a nice smoking room too.

I would like to hope that others can benefit from my trial and error (and experiences) without having to search around. I have a lot more info and will be posting it here. Of course, if anyone has any first hand info, that would be most welcome for everyone!

Dr. Raskolnikov said...

I recently visited Aachen, Germany, to enjoy their famous Christmas Market and sadly...a lot of bars/pubs had people freely smoking indoors and nobody complained. And I mean, really, really, truckloads of smokers. Nobody even blinked.
BTW, a big thank you to our host for perseverance. Keep up the good work.

Bear Tripper said...

I had discussed the smoking ban with one of my German colleagues. It really depends on which area you visit. However, there really is no such thing as an outright ban on anything in Germany. This is due, apparently, to the lessons learned from the dreadful Hitler regime. Outright bans will not be tolerated and there are always loopholes.

I also had the pleasure of visiting a restaurant in Dusseldorf Altstadt after the 'ban', which I had visited before the 'ban'. I went outside for a cig as had read that the ban was in place. On returning, I was asked by the waitress if I had gone for a cig. I said I had and she proclaimed, laughing, that this was not America or the UK and that they had a smoking room at the end of the restaurant where you could eat or drink too.

It is always worth asking in Germany if there is a smoking area!

moonrakin said...

Germany & smoking?

I had a week's work in Cuxhaven about a year back and was stood early on the first evening shin deep in snow outside a bar having a tab and several bunches of locals went in - they did look at me a bit oddly... I went back in and there they were, all sat around a huge circular table of big lagers with 5 ashtrays on it.... which had been brought out by the bar staff.

The really, deeply irritating thing for me was that literally the day before leaving for Germany I had BBC Radio 4 on in the car and there was much tut-tutting about naughty French in Lyons smoking in cafes & bars when it was banned ooh!! how bad! and how it could "the Authorities" let it happen! - out course it wouldn't happen elsewhere in the EU- like Germany where there was a total smoking ban rigorously enforced (Teutonic rigor heavily hinted at...) noo... smoking is banned everywhere!!

I also spend a considerable amount of time out of the UK - I now am inured to the loathsome lying cnuts at the BBC. The number of times they've made stuff up about something I've witnessed or have independent knowledge of is something I've stopped counting - but as you might be able to tell - some small anger wells up when recounting tales like this.

This episode boiled my urine especially after the aforementioned German smokers told me what they knew of German public smoking rules.

Straylight said...

With regard to smoking at airports I find this site to be useful

Have a look at Munich for example, there are several smoking areas listed.

Bear Tripper said...

This is what this particular blog is all about - first hand experience rather than what we are fed by the media. We know this is not everywhere but in Germany the words (in my terrible German) 'gibt es ein rauchzimmer?' would soon help.

Sorry to hear about your experience - trust me that I have had the same a lot of times. I hope you will post more of your stuff and help others get past the PR and into reality.

moonrakin said...

Hi BT,
there's a jargon word for the skewing of public perception by MSM straight lies that take time and effort to rebut and those rebuttals never have the wide impact of the lie.... that escapes me for the moment :-)

Regulars here are I guess only too familiar with the blustering booze n baccy bantards....

Straylight said...

Such a database exists at this website:

As it says on the home page it is kept up to date by smokers with first hand knowledge of airports. For example the Munich airport page lists over a dozen places where it is possible to smoke:

(Please note I have no affiliation with this website, although I have contributed.)

Michael J. McFadden said...

Thank you BT! Interesting and informative!


Bear Tripper said...

Thanks, that definitely is a very useful site. However, on looking at one of my 'frequent' airports, I found the information to be slightly incorrect. I will give them some feedback so that they can correct it. Like all of these sites, they rely on first hand knowledge and feedback. I know I certainly haven't visited every single airport....although it sometimes feels I have given it a good try :-)

Bear Tripper said...

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it

JonathanBagley said...

Manchester now has a smoking cage in at least one terminal

nisakiman said...

I've posted this link before on various blogs, but it's so cool I'll post it again:

Every airport and any other indoor public area should have these dotted around.

I think it's only a concept, but it would be great to see them become a reality.

Lyn said...

Bristol and East Midlands Airports also have smoking areas (outside) but they are after you have gone through security, which is good - especially if your flight is delayed.

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

Welcome Bear Tripper who-is-not-Dick-Puddlecote!
This is one of the most helpful posts I've seen for a long time, and thank you for writing it.

I'm going to copy and share it - and give the link to here - with a pro-choice smoking forum I'm a member of, so maybe we can all add to the information.

For my part I can tell people about Manchester UK (Terminal 1) and Athens airports.

Manchester T1 now has an airside (past security) smoking area. A bit grim (think Eraserhead backdrop) but at least it's there and you can take carry out coffees, and people are friendly. Past the perfume and expensive jewellery area towards the gates, up to the food court upper area, and find the door towards the back where the toilets are. Staff are very helpful at pointing you there if you ask.

Athens airport, bafflingly, has no airside smoking area yet, though one has been promised for a couple of years. There is an inside smoking room, where the check in desks are, next to a coffee shop at the far left hand side. This is baffling because Greece of all countries has ignored the ban in most bars and cafes, and I'm sure that many airport and airline staff still want to smoke on their breaks.

Anyway, welcome again and please post some more!

Bear Tripper said...

Could you post a bit more info about where these smoking areas are in the terminals and if you need codes to get to them. That would be great for us all to know. Thank you :-)

Bear Tripper said...

Cage is better than nothing - I would be happy with that :-) I haven't been to Manchester airport lately.....but now that I know of this I may use it more! Thanks

Bear Tripper said...

Great info on Manchester airport. Is that the cage that JonathanBagley has referred to below?

I am also always baffled by the airports in Greece. Smoke anywhere....but get airside and it is all non-smoking.

I have chatted to many airline staff over a cig. You are right that they find it annoying.

There will be more posts - I have a lot more of the world to cover :-)

Bear Tripper said...

Thank you to everyone who has commented with first hand knowledge, links etc. Keep them coming. There will be more posts about various airports and suchlike. However, as I said below in a comment, I have not been everywhere so any information you have is excellent for smoking travellers.

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

Hi BT.
Yes, it's the same cage. Think of a stage set for a mid 70s Krautrock performance, but with added predawn wind and lashing rain.

So glad you'll be posting more. I look forward. :)

P JH said...

Newcastle Airport, UK

"A smoking area has been provided in the departure lounge. Customers
at Eagle Bar Diner (to the right of the departure area when you have
passed through security) can access Newcastle Airport's smoking area for
those of you who like a cigarette alongside your drink."

Not seen the one in the departure lounge, but used the Eagle Bar Diner one - another cage.