Sunday, November 6, 2011

Now Boarding (Air Travel 01; Head-Smack 01)

Programmable displays at airport gates are wonderful, whether they are the new flat panels or the old dot matrix signs. Boarding by zones is also wonderful. Let's put these ideas together.

When it comes time for boarding, the gate agents should be able to change the display so that it shows what zone is boarding. Some airlines do this, but only in small print at the bottom of the display and/or intermittently with other information such as advertisements, the weather, or upgrade lists.
Does anyone in charge of gate signage actually fly?  Or do they all have super-premiere status, so they never have to worry about boarding by zones?

When the plane is boarding, it's too late to worry about whether you have an upgrade. You probably know that already. Anyway, it is an individual concern, irrelevant to the other 250 people taking the flight. They do, however, care about boarding the plane.

Head-smack Idea: Once boarding begins, the display behind the agent's desk and the one hanging from the ceiling should both show, in the biggest possible font, the four things that matter right then:
  • the flight number, 
  • the destination, 
  • the departure time, and 
With the press of a button, the gate agent should be able to change to this display as soon as ne announces that boarding will begin. Each time another zone is permitted to board, pressing the button should update the display. The button could be the same one that operates the loudspeaker. After all, the audio has problems. The announcements are often unintelligible; they may be incomprehensible to anyone from another country or another region of the United States; and they don’t help at all if you walk up to the gate after they are made.

True, the lack of decent signage fosters camaraderie among travelers. Friendly conversations begin “Did you understand that?” and “What zone are they up to?” But it also encourages people to jump the queue, either intentionally or not, which wastes time and can cause embarrassment and anger.

If you read this and smack your head – or say “I’ve always thought the same thing” – but can do nothing because you are not in charge of airport signage, I hope that from you to someone who is in charge is only one degree of separation.
drafted 5/22/10
finally posted, because the same problem still exists, 11/6/11
google/blogspot's messing with URLs: fixed 9/2/12

No comments:

Post a Comment