Stressed Systems

A 4:00 AM alarm woke us for a 5:00 AM departure to “London, Luton” airport. Paul, our neighbour and Spain specialist, very kindly drove us to the airport.

Since we last flew with easyJet, they have introduced the facility for all passengers to check-in online; previously this facility was reserved for those travelling only with carry-on baggage. Now, even those with hold bags can check-in online. There is a desk for such passengers to drop-off their hold baggage, which clearly still needs to be tagged. Neighbour Paul seemed to think this facility was good so I thought I’d try out this new streamlining, checked-in online and printed off our boarding passes a week ago. After all, the most painful part of air travel these days, the part that seems not to get technological solutions thrown at it, is check-in. What a nightmare!

We arrived at “London, Luton” at 5:30 AM in plenty of time for its timetabled 7:00 AM departure. We dragged our few bags into the check-in area. Well, that isn’t entirely accurate – we couldn’t get directly get into the check-in area for the mass of humanity, most of whom appeared to be queuing for the already-checked-in baggage drop-off desk. Shortly, an announcement encouraged anyone on our Alicante flight to go to check-in desks 46 & 47. Feeling frustrated by the length of lines, which had really turning into an uncontrolled melee, we went. The lines to check-in were less than half the length of that for those already checked-in. The check-in desk was happy to process us with our pre-printed boarding passes.

This seems like a classic case of a system backfiring. Allow all passengers on all flights to check-in online and provide a desk for bags, bags which still need tagging as to destination and, I imagine, weighing. Provide four or so desks, in total, for the few remaining passengers still needing to check-in. Brilliant! DUH!!

Since most prospective passengers were still stuck in impossibly long lines in the check-in area, we made it to the departure lounge through a reasonably civilized scanning procedure, albeit half-naked. Passengers now half to remove shoes and belts due to various items-of-clothing bombers. Once an airline suffers from a passenger wearing explosive underpants, we really will have to be scanned naked. That’ll be interesting, especially for the transvestites!

Once in the departure “lounge” (have you ever tried lounging there?), we were soon called to the departure gate where I couldn’t help but notice that easyJet’s original four boarding groups had been reduce to two: SB (Speedy Boarding, for which you pay) and 2 (all the remaining cheapskates). We were near the end of the cheapskates’ line but eventually made it to the front for the next new technological innovation. There were two ladies on the gate processing boarding passes. One was free so we approached her whereupon she informed us that her only her colleague was equipped (with a bar-code scanner) to process all those with home-printed boarding cards. More imposed bottle-necking: one gate operative for the majority of people that had checked-in online, one for the few remaining passengers. More brilliance! Once again the system favoured those who had not checked-in online.

Nonetheless we boarded and found reasonable seats (aisle, front), albeit not together. The plane was ready for departure on time but the weather wasn’t. It began snowing lightly so the pilot called for some de-icing treatment which took 30 minutes to arrive. New Winter Olympic sport: plane de-icing. Naturally, Britain would not be in the running for a gold.

The flight was good, we seemed to make up some time and landed close enough to schedule in Alicante. Our rental car was ready and we were expected so the Victoria car rental systems appear to work well. We drove north in our neat little Renault Clio, playing with various buttons and controls to see what they did, and arrived in Jalon to a very boisterous welcome from el perrito, Scamp, who leapt into the car and licked us to death as soon as a door was open, even though the car was still moving. Chris and Yvonne were very welcoming, to. 🙂

Four litres of rosado seemed to disappear over the remaining day.

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2 comments on “Stressed Systems
  1. The fellow on the Christmas day Delta flight from Amsterdam to Chicago did have the explosives in his underwear. I’m surprised strip searches are not routine now.

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