Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why we wait for bags to arrive at the carousel

I received an e-mail from a colleague who recently experienced Zurich Airport. He said that the baggage was amazingly fast on the carousel and wished we could do something at his home airport.

My response was that there were a number of hurdles which were hard to overcome first:

1. Lack of competition: This is the biggest hurdle. Airports are usually monopolists for local passengers. If you need to wait a few more minutes at the baggage carousel, how would that influence your decision on choosing your destination airport?

2. Lack of awareness: How big is the problem? If the airport the asks the ground handlers about the bag delivery performance, guess what answer you will get? It must be truly excellent. What all partners are not aware of, that they are in the same boat, because the passenger will rate the overall quality. Maybe immigration could help with longer queues before we get into the arrival hall ...

3. Lack of accountability: As an airport you can always respond to a complaint that you are terribly sorry and claim that it is not your responsibility but the ground handler's or airline's. In fact, I have seen such letters. Well, some airports start to include service levels into their ground handler license. But, wait, isn't the airline (in fact the passenger) paying for that service?

4. Lack of transparency: The ground handler will not share their performance provided that the bag delivery times are even measured. Now, how can we motivate the ground handler to capture the first bag / last bag information and share it with you?

5. Lack of cooperation: Standards can only be defined and reviewed together. If they are not being met, then there can be a fact based discussion, where the airport is only interested in the output (result) and not the input.

There is light at the end of the tunnel because more and more airport operators become aware that passenger experience is important, in particular for arriving passengers. Even though some of them have no choice, this is part of the first experiences when you arrive at a city, region or country.

How to resolve this, how to overcome the hurdles? Well, true CDM (airside, terminal and landside), incorporated into the organisations, processes, systems and governance is a great enabler to achieve this. Why not ask the airport who was awarded with the best airport baggage delivery award in 2010?