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 Feature
8 January 2010 | Aidan Mills Blog
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Who Serves Whom?
This week Aidan looks at how airlines and airport authorities could learn a thing or two from ITIL V3 by asking passengers what they really want from airline travel...

  Aidan Mills B.Sc, MBCS, PMP

Before writing my blog this week I was fortunate enough to read Aidan Lawes blog which I enjoyed immensely.  Aidan’s predictions for 2010 are thought-provoking and entertaining. I am not sure about his sports prediction, but we’ll see! 

First let me wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that 2010 will bring fresh opportunities and new insights in every field, globally. 

But let’s stop for a minute and assess the price of it all, economically and environmentally.

Aidan’s seventh point, about a well known low cost airline had me laughing out loud.  I only use that airline when I have to as I dislike amongst other things their ridiculously low baggage allowance. Over the Christmas period I was forced through circumstance to use them. During the flight, I started reading the in-flight magazine (still free believe it or not) and particularly the pay-as-you-fly-toilets, when my mind turned to IT systems and ITIL, Sad I know!

I wondered why they don’t provide everyone with a seat number during (online) check-in.  After all, they know what planes they use on each route, who is checking in, since their systems record your online check-in, and indeed, woe betide anyone who fails to check in online.

So why don’t they do it?  After all, seat allocation subroutines are an embedded part of virtually all airline booking systems and have been for donkey’s years.  

I cannot for the life of me think of any reason for it other than it encourages those who dislike the uncertainty of finding an empty seat (especially when travelling with a partner or in a group) to pay extra for an allocated seat. 

Now I know that the low cost travel enthusiasts say this is what it’s all about, you make your choice and you pay for it, and the airlines will say they are acting responsibly from a passenger and environmental point of view, by reducing costs and baggage allowances and maximising passenger numbers per flight.

All good points. 

But in their rush to meet cost expectations and global regulations these airlines forget or ignore the following:-

1. The huge stress on passengers who unwittingly don’t pay for the extras and end up near to heart attack from;

  • lengthy queues at overweight baggage pay stations
  • understaffed security lines
  • uncertainty about seating
  • unhelpful staff overworked from petty regulations, stressed travellers and meeting sales targets
  • overweight carry-ons (hardly ever weight checked by the way)

2. Maintenance concerns, including planes with leaking door and window seals, creaky undercarriage, inefficient pressurisation and aircon systems (maybe the latter are due to cost-saving measures as well, but their under-use cause’s extreme passenger discomfort).

3. Lack of free water in-flight, when everyone knows you get dehydrated when flying.

Airlines should work with airport authorities to integrate their systems and make airline travel an enjoyable affair once more.  At the moment it is a disorganised mess, with disconnected IT systems, hit and miss staffing and disjointed procedures.  They could learn a thing or two from ITIL V3, and start by asking passengers what they really want from airline travel.

I look forward to reading your comments about the use of IT (or lack of it) by modern day (low cost) airlines, and once again I wish you all a prosperous and hopefully stress-free 2010. 

Any feedback and comments are always welcome!!


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