September 16, 2009

The Keystone Cops do the Calgary Airport

Taking a trip, whether a quick getaway out of town or exotic journey across the world, can be fun, educational, exciting, and relaxing. It can also be expensive, and a great source of profit for the various companies involved. So as part of their business model, why don't airports make the experience smoother and more organized?

Yesterday K and I were coming home from an extended weekend away in Portland, with a stopover in Calgary. This is a 90-minute flight and a 30-minute flight, so not a huge strenuous trip. And then the domino-effect silliness in Calgary began. Overall it added 45 minutes and a whole bunch of frustration to our journey. It's a tough economy out there, why isn't everyone getting smarter? And do airports function along any kind of business model?

Hurry up and wait... rush to get in line at customs and then wait. And wait. See a disorganized mess, with the customs room overflowing with travellers and the agent booths understaffed. What is supposed to be a system clearly isn't, as rather than one line to slowly crawl through the small number of agents, people haphazardly get in lines which move at different speeds. Eager to speed through and make the connection, and with K already zoomed thru the priority line with his super duper NEXUS pass -- gotta get me one of those -- I choose what I think is the shortest line. Five minutes, ten, twenty. It takes 35 minutes, and every one of my peers from the flight has passed me, some assisted by a second officer coming on to service their lines, some simply by having chosen a better (faster) agent. Aaargh!

After customs, we still have to pick up our bags, go drop off our bags, go thru security yet again (who designed this place? why did I have to exit security area?), and find our new departure gate.

Hurry up and rush... we get to gate, which they have just changed to one that would have been closer, so pull a quick u-turn and head back.

So we scurry to new gate, see three agents checking in people for other flights not us, ask at the desk about where we go as they repeat the final boarding announcement for our flight, and are told to ignore the signs, all these agents are taking people for our flight (system, what system?). We are then waiting to board our plane, which is now delayed due to a tire change, and by the time the tire is changed, the ground crew has been re-assigned, and before a new crew can be found the fuel drops below minimum requirement. So new tire, new crew, and refuel. And then load passengers.

System, what system? Aaaargh! C'mon people, stop moaning about how the economy is killing your business, and do something to fix your business!


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