ATCEN Echo

Something struck me on one of my business trips warping through the portals of one airport after another. Service seems to be non-existent at airports; or the traveler has a tendency not to notice.

Using myself as an example, I essentially go through two phases whenever I travel: the Exit Phase – headinwg toward a destination and the Return Phase – returning from a location. In the Exit Phase, I only have one unwavering objective; to get to my destination as quickly and efficiently as I can. In addition to thoughts and details of my business trip, my mind is one complex myriad of checkpoints where I check my progress via the timepiece on my wrist and then synchronizing with the good ‘ol hand phone. I find myself speed walking (I can almost feel a wind in my face from the speed) from one point to another so efficiently I could put any Olympian walker from the African continent to shame… only to be at the mercy of the airline to ensure I arrive at my destination as scheduled.

Boarding the aircraft, I find myself reeled back reluctantly like a dog on a chain to a slower and (unappreciated) relaxed pace. Instinctively, I want to jump into the pilot seat and taxi the plane to a take-off! Instead forced smiles welcome me into a galley of travelers who are exhibiting hostile but civilized behavior jostling for a share of space in the overhead storage compartments.

This experience is painfully reconstructed and revisited for the Return Phase except my main objective has changed to seeing the smiles of my wife, my 9-month old and the comforts of my own bed.

Business travelers are more interested in the efficiency of the service rather than the softer side of service. Save the smiles for the casual traveler, I say. I’m more interested in if everything’s on time. Airports should introduce separate operating procedures for the business and casual traveler. Have a different schedule for business travelers where everything is to-the-dot. Give us a later boarding time; disembark us from the aircraft first. We should have a sign to indicate we are returning from a business trip so we’re not bothered with the soft drinks and peanuts. Let us sleep… we just want to get where we’re going.

Ken Ng
CEO/Senior Managing Consultant