✅ Trip Verified
| When we arrived at the departure hall, there was only one open entrance out of three and the queue was very long. A cheerful young lady greeted newcomers and offered so-called 'fast track' where you pay money and cut the queue; quite a number of exhausted passengers fell victim to this scheme and parted with their cash. A significant number of security officers, many of them wearing police uniforms, were imitating frenetic activity, while others either smoked cigarettes or drank tea. The queue moved very slowly. After about an hour waiting, another entrance was opened, but the passengers at the head of the queue were prevented from going there; instead, the police directed the tail of the queue to the newly-opened entrance. Thus, those who came last went through the security first. When it was our turn to take our suitcases to the X-Ray machine, a policeman demanded we show him our tickets, and as we hadn't bothered to print them out beforehand, we were unable to produce them. It's not a terribly busy airport with Turkish Airlines flying to Istanbul only three or four times a week, so everybody just shuffles up to their check-in counter and presents their passport. In the absence of tickets, the policeman asked for the flight number, but all we could tell him at 1:20 in the morning was, 'Turkish Airlines, Istanbul, 3:40'. My bad, I know, it's unforgivable not to memorise your flight number. I suggested that I go to the flight timetable in the centre of the hall and look up the flight number, but he was unrelenting and very serious; he ordered us to step out of the queue and wait aside, but then suddenly he smiled and waved his hand towards the X-Ray machine. I guess this was his sadistic way to entertain himself in the middle of the night. The security staff were younger and slightly more efficient; our first-aid pouch with aspirin, paracetamol and some other over-the-counter medications took them less than two minutes to inspect and they took no interest in the suitcases. The THY ground staff behind the check-in counters were reasonably fast, albeit numerous – no less than three staff at each desk. The elderly border guard who was checking and stamping the passports was more concerned about collecting cash from various uniformed people escorting the 'fast track' passengers. One such passenger, rather young and slightly hysterical because he thought he was missing his Fly Pegasus flight, arrived at the border without having been checked in for the flight; his uniformed escort received some dressing-down from the border guard, collected the passport and turned to go back to the airline counter, but the border guard called after him and returned the wad of cash that had been given to him half a minute earlier. Some honesty and propriety at last. I cannot comment on the terminal seating arrangements and other amenities because we did not have time to enjoy the duty-free shopping or just to buy a bottle of water; as soon as we cleared through all the security barriers, we boarded the plane. Overall, the whole operation looked like a well-planned chaos created in order to distort money from captive passengers. I do not think my country, the Russian Federation, will soon restore direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh; I am sure the relevant authorities are well aware of the situation at this airport and the venal practices of the police.