I like to think I've got a pretty good imagination, yet I find it hard to imagine a respected, profitable business that can operate the way air travel currently operates in the U.S. Let's take this morning's experience as an example.
Literally half of American Airlines' check-in kiosks were out of service, some for something as simple as being out of paper to print bag tags. A frazzled attendant, attempting to service one broken kiosk and a customer at a working kiosk blamed how busy they were this morning. No, sorry. Your lack of preparedness is the source of the problem. How hard is it to service those machines overnight?
When dropping my tagged bag at the check-in desk, I couldn't help but notice the conveyor wasn't operating and a long line of at least 20 bags was set to the side, mine included, hopefully waiting for the conveyor to begin operating and carry them away to their waiting aircraft. One agent commented to another agent about how "they" had better get that started soon. I'd like to think so too.
As is often the case, there was no TSA precheck line at the security gate and the regular line extended about 20 yards down the passageway. So it was a 20-gate walk to a security entrance with a TSA line. Of course, that TSA line extended beyond the labrynth of blue tape into the ticketing area. Fortunately, the TSA agents finally welcomed each of us to the front of the line with a surly reminder to have boarding passes and ID out and ready to expedite the process, as though their lack of capacity was our problem.
And of course there weren't any bins available on the x-ray conveyor for jackets, packages, etc.
At least they didn't find it necessary to give me my free TSA freedom massage this moring.
The airlines say their primary goal is our safety, passing the buck to the feds. The feds say they're protecting us from terrorists when the risk of that is astronomically lower than the risk of getting killed in a car accident driving to the airport. No one asked for perfect safety, as if such a thing was achievable.
What other business could survive if this is how they welcome their customers, how they create that first impression, that first touch-point, for the flying public?
Sorry for the rant. Waking up at 4am makes me a bit cranky. At least I have something really good to look forward to later today and for the remainder of the week.
Until my return flight.