After his last international flight, Alex Yarde wondered how he got the job of ticketing agent, caterer and baggage handler for the airlines, all while paying more for the tickets.
Airlines are automating everything lately and the experience is truly amazing. Somehow, they have figured out how to combine all the time saving efficiency of waiting behind a septuagenarian at the self-checkout line in a large supermarket chain with the courtesy, ease and stress free experience of your local DMV office.
The self-check in kiosk at the airport is truly a technological triumph. This is progress!
It is, I am sure, a big win for the airlines because they must be able to reduce costs by getting rid of those pesky human employees with their health care needs, requirement to stop for nutritional support, vacations, holidays, deaths in family, pregnancies. The list of benefits goes on and on. Now you can have it all – you choose seats and print out boarding passes from the comfort of your home and move right through the airport with the greatest of ease. As long as you are a single traveler, flying domestically with knowledge of computers and no luggage to check, you are good to go.
In all those lovely well-produced commercials, you reach the airport, head directly for the security checkpoints, continue to your gate, and effortlessly board — done. The boarding pass you printed at home and your ID gain you passage right to your seat. You do not even have to take your shoes off now at security. In this glitzy, CGI wonderland they guarantee life as you know it will never be the same. You get Shiatsu Massage in your personal, fully reclined electronic daybed while you watch TV and are fed hot fudge sundaes by supermodels.
If, however, your reality happens to be traveling internationally with small children and luggage (which includes car seats), on a flight where the plane has been changed (so the plane is smaller and the seats, which you choose carefully, are now all scattered about the plane so that one of your small children are sitting alone and these seats cannot be changed before you arrive because you can’t change international booked tickets) may G-D help you. Not a sundae in sight.
Or, maybe you will get help from one of the two overwhelmed employees stationed in the kiosk area with the swarm of people (not in a line anymore because the lines were done away with when they added the kiosks area) relentlessly badgering them. Of course, said children can be useful at that moment to help you get the attention of one of these two harried employees. Especially if you have left your house before the sun has arisen to make that international flight. Cry on, little child, cry on. And just wait until the ride home, when you might be able to get to do all this at a smaller international airport. It will only get better.
Premium/Gold/Platinum/ and Illuminati still get the full service agent assisted check in. I guess human interaction should be reserved for the richest among us. In one airport I was in recently, the premium member area even had a secluded, velvet-roped red carpet entrance. I assume everyone there also gets an Academy Award.
Unfortunately, now that I’m traveling with children, my considerable amount of air rewards miles go towards extra tickets and not upgrades. So, I guess I will never experience again what it is like to have someone check my family’s passports, take our luggage, move our seats and print our boarding passes as I stand there. Let’s not even get into sundaes. If you are smart you smuggle in your own food instead of getting gouged by Mr. & Ms. Flight attendant and the Aluminum Carts of Doom.
Somehow I’ve morphed into a ticket agent, redcap, baggage handler and executive flight chef, without the snazzy blazer and the reflective vest. Wow- I don’t remember applying for any of those jobs or getting anything for performing these extra services. Quality of service and ticket prices are both going the wrong way and in opposite directions with no end in sight. At this rate, by the time my kids are traveling with my grand kids they’ll need pilot’s licenses.
Why am doing someone else’s job again? The airlines would have us believe it’s progress.
There’s that word again… I don’t think that word means what the airlines think it means.