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Need I say Moores

Consistent inconsistency

It seems the only thing consistent about flying is inconsistency. When you never know what to expect, it takes its toll on trust.

The problem is that airlines aren’t in control either. Essential bits of the puzzle that they depend on aren’t theirs.

I’ve been entitled to fast-track security on all three of my most recent trips, spanning two airlines and five airports. It was clearly signed just once in six sectors. At one airport, I queried where fast track was. “It’s not in this zone, but queue here isn’t that big,” was the reply I received. Not helpful for my next trip.

Do I have lounge access? There was no mention of it on my boarding card, which just showed the airline’s premium cabin branding. It’s is singularly unhelpful knowing you’re in ‘Wizz-Bang’ class if the actual product isn’t spelt out to the traveler.

If someone else books the ticket and you check-in online, you are left with no clue about what you’re entitled to. And, if you don’t use it, why would you pay a premium next time? There’s a real information disconnect with self-service processes and you typically have no contact with airline staff until you reach the gate.

The answer on that particular trip was that there was no fast-track and no lounge on my outbound journey, but coming back there was both…if you can find them. There were no signs for the airline lounge, despite it being a home hub. I ended up having to ask two random airport staff for directions.

I have an airline app which sometimes tells me which gate I will be boarding from. I stopped for food in the departure lounge. There were no screens nearby, so I rushed my food while trying to download the airport app. Then the gate popped up on my phone, so I grabbed what was left of my meal and started walking because you never know if it’s going to be a bussing gate, or how long the walk will be.

Arriving at the gate, there was a huge disorganized queue stretching down the corridor and no staff to be seen. Do you continue to queue if you have priority boarding? The answer, for me, was yes (I am British – queuing is a national sport).

The priority stream was only obvious once I was in the gate room itself. I stood in the fast-track boarding area for a few minutes, as non-priority passengers were processed, and ultimately had to ask the staff to have my boarding card taken. As I was finally called forward, the grumbling from the other queue was audible. Not a happy experience.

More importantly for the airline, I simply don’t want to have to work and fight for every premium ‘perk.’ It’s easier flying in economy, which undermines the whole concept of paying more for simplicity.

On one of my flights, I tried to use an e-Gate for immigration. My e-enabled UK passport was rejected as being non-EU (maybe the e-Gate knows the outcome of the referendum already?!). I had to queue again and use a manual counter instead.

Returning to UK turf, I needed to get a taxi. It took two circuits of the arrivals area – which admittedly was undergoing construction work – to find the taxi rank. I am an experienced traveler, who used to work in airport ground operations. If I can’t figure out where to go, how do once-a-year leisure passengers stand a chance?

All this makes passengers nervous. They are left not knowing what to expect when time and punctuality matters. People want to be in control when they travel – they are afraid of the unknown - and the last thing an airline wants is stressed passengers who have lost trust in the system before they even reach the aircraft.

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Need I say Moores

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