Monday, November 07, 2016

Airline self service gives a lot of hassle

In designing their self service check in, the airlines have reached the level of insanity.

I received an email from Singapore Airlines asking me to check in online. I did. They send the boarding pass to me by email and asked me to print it out. I do not have a printer. So I saved it on my mobile phone, hoping that it would be accepted.

At Heathrow Airport, a staff managing the queue told me to go to the kiosk to print the baggage tag before dropping my bags. The kiosk asked me to scan mhy passport and  printed the boarding pass. It ignored the fact that I had already checked in online.

The kiosk did not ask me to print out the baggage tag. I asked the staff where do I get the baggage tag. He asked me to check with the airline staff who was at another kiosk. That staff was busy serving another passenger, and refused to tell me what was happening.

I had to approach another staff who confirmed that the non-responding staff was printing out the baggage tags. Many other passengers were also confused with what was happening.

Finally, I got my baggage tag and had to join a long queue to drop the bag. I had to affix the baggage tag to my baggage. This requires some knowledge as some part of the tag had to be retained by me and other part has to be taken out to be placed on the luggage.

To an airline staff who does this a few hundred times each day, it is easy. To a passenger, it is easy to make a mistake leading to a loss of baggage.

I prefer the old system where the check in staff handle the entire process for the passenger. They are familiar with the process. To make the passenger do self service, they have to provide other staff to guide the passengers on what needs to be done. It is a big hassle.

The move towards self service has reached the level of insanity.

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