Monday, July 23, 2012

Unintended Consequences of Travel

So I decided to stray from the integration of technology into Family & Consumer Science Education to talk about my recent trip to Arizona.  I will not give you a travel log or even the slide show - my daughter says I take WAY too many photos!  I will tell you about the consumer experience I had as a not too frequent flyer ... I haven't been on a plane for a few years... I know, no life!

Anyway, how has technology led to unintended consequences in the travel field?  Please remember I only experienced one airline so this may not hold true to others.  So here is my list:

1.  Less actual persons to help with any issues - the customer service reps at the counters have been replaced with computer screens printing out boarding passes.

2.  If you choose to check a bag for the extra $25 you can stand in line for 35 minutes for the one counter that is open even though it is the early morning in the middle of vacation time.

3.  When printing out your own boarding pass you have the option of taking your bags as carry-on or checked, for the extra fee of course.  The screen reminds you that the overhead compartments will hold a bag that is 22" x 14" x 9"; or fits in the bin near the baggage check.  Now how many of you actually have measured your bag?

4.  Once you get through TSA, after taking off shoes, belts, hairbands and clips, watches; been patted down because the agents can't see your legs; put all your carry-ons in separate bins, laying flat of course, with your toiletries in a requisite qt. size plastic bag; you make it to your boarding gate.  Now at the gate you see one or two human beings, who in garbled speak ask you to double check your carry on luggage and to check it since the plane will not hold it all. 

5.  Of course, nobody offers to check their bags because of many different reasons - most likely being they want to make sure it gets to the same city they are going to.

6.  So now you board - of course First Class goes first - so that all the peasants can drag through their "special" area while the flight crew is busy trying to serve them drinks.

7.  After First Class we board all the "Special" customers - the young, old, handicapped, frequent fliers, etc.  They of course are dispersed thoughout the plane, so now when the masses get boarded, everyone can climb over everybody else.

8.  Finally the peons are boarded by zone.  Of course all the oversized carry on luggage is wiggled into the overhead compartments, many not fitting, while others are small enough to be under the seat.

9.  All this jockeying of luggage, climbing over others makes for frazzled nerves, in a tube of 160 people.

10.  Finally after the flight attendants get all the hatches closed, with the oversized luggage carefully thrown under the plane because it really was a 36" suitcase, and not 22"; the plane taxis to take-off.

In my experience last week the boarding of a plane to Detroit took 45 minutes at one time, and on the return trip 60 minutes.  The flight lasted 1 hour and 1 minute.  So the unintended consequence - Wasted Time!

If there was a human being at the beginning of the process checking all luggage (and enforcing policy), carry-on and checked, the boarding of the plane would have been smoother, faster and much more pleasant. 

 So as we integrate technology into the mundane tasks of life, we need to ask ourselves, What are the possible outcomes of the introduction of this technology?

Overall the trip was great, even though I got to spend 6 hours in Detroit around midnight trying to get home ... but that story is for a different day!