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When Airport Self-Service Goes Wrong

Posted by Mike Benjamin on Apr 24, 2013 @ 12:19 PM


airport self-service

So in my last post about developments in air travel self-service, I described how new technology is helping us have a better travel experience. At the end I asked for your experiences with airport self-service, and whether you prefer using gadgets or you need to speak to a real person when there’s a problem. I thought I knew what my answer would be until Murphy’s Law snuck up on me on the return trip to Boston.

When I fly, I usually carry a paper boarding pass: old habits are hard to change.  But I was turning over a new leaf and using the electronic boarding pass feature in Delta’s new app.  Worked great on the way out.  Returning, my phone was near the end of its battery life, and the guy at security wanted me to brighten the screen so the scanner could read the barcode better. It worked, but nearly wiped out my already low power. Thankfully, the terminals in Atlanta have lots of available charging stations and I used the time before the flight to recharge my phone.  Unfortunately the weather was less than perfect and the incoming flight was about a half hour late.  When they finally made the boarding announcement, I unplugged the phone, brought up the app, and to my dismay the boarding pass was gone!  Where was my trusty paper when I needed it?  I queued up to board, not knowing if I was going to make it home that night. Fortunately the gate agent was able to quickly print a paper boarding pass and I was on my way to Boston.  I love self-service, but when the glitches happen it can really ramp up the anxiety.

Self-service is satisfying when it is working, but can also be aggravating when something goes amiss. My trip to Atlanta was a mix of both. Anybody have a similar experience where going fully self-service on a trip didn’t work, and you were glad to have the option of good old-fashioned  face-to-face communication?

Topics: business travel, airlines, experience, airport, self-service, customer service, boarding, mobile, flight, technology, delay, app

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