I decided to check in my bags for my Brussels Airlines flight to Berlin but when I arrived at the airport I was surprised to see rows and rows of completely empty check in desks, not a human for as far as my eyes could see. This was mid-week and I hadn’t heard of any strikes.
‘Well thank you Brussels Airlines!’ I thought sarcastically. Now I have not only to print my tickets and boarding passes I also have to learn how to operate the machine to check my own bags in. I wonder what’s next? Perhaps they’ll expect me to serve my own in-flight drinks or even fly the aircraft one day!
I understand the change but I didn’t like this one. When I saw all those empty chairs behind the check in desks I remembered a dinner party conversation I once had with an airline check in attendant. She really loved her work. She reminded me of its importance “we are the front line to our customers, great customer experience begins and ends with us” she had said. “Not to mention our vital contribution towards security.” I can’t help thinking that she had either been told a big lie or that Brussels Airlines have just lowered their standards to a level where they just don’t care anymore. If flying is now only a matter of checking yourself in and sitting in a giant metal can with two massive Rolls Royce engines attached to its wings then – customer loyalty just died.
However, and it’s a big however this week. On the way back from Berlin. I arrived at the check-in on time, only to find it empty but without the self-service machines I had reluctantly learned to use in Brussels. A long queue had already formed in front of me, so no chance to grab a coffee or go to bathroom. After twenty minutes of waiting, which seemed like an hour, two grumpy looking humans reluctantly arrived and flopped themselves down into their stools. I wished all at once that I had the option of interacting with a machine instead, so I could pass through the humiliation of security and get to a seat in the departure lounge.
What a strange world we live in and what strange creatures we humans are. I now genuinely look forward to the arrival of robots because they will greet me with a smile, say the right things at the right time and be a lot more consistent than some of my fellow homo-sapiens.
Have a good week,