Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's all about information and experience

The more you travel the easier it gets. Yesterday I arrived at the airport with no ticket or any reference to any booking. I had a bit of a problem when I tried the self check-in desk. My name was not recognized from my passport and only after a while I got it sorted. Was this in my earlier days of travel, I would've had everything with me, checked, re-checked and double-checked again. But you gain experience and you get to a point that going to the airport is like going to the toilet, you know what to do without any concerns really. Another thing that comes in really handy when you travel is information. The more information you can find, the easier it is to travel without the usual concerns and frustrations.

Yesterday when we landed at Schipol Airport, which according to many is the best organized airport in Europe, we headed for the carousal to collect our baggage. All you have to do is follow the signs. The information is in your face, so finding it is not much of a problem. Our luggage was expected on carousal 12, which was also very easy to find. But what I saw on the screen above the belt really amazed me. They were actually telling you when your baggage will be loaded on the belt, they even tell you once all the baggage have been loaded, so if you don't see your bags then you will know that you don't have to wait and do the next obvious step, go to the baggage claim desk. All this information giving to you while you are standing there.

Compare this now with arrivals at Luanda. The size of the airport is a 20th of Schipol. Two flights arrive at the same time and there is complete chaos. You stand and wait at any of the only TWO carousals and you still don't know when or where to expect your baggage. After 2 hours (and this is not a lie), you still stand and wait because you have no idea whether your bags might appear or not. There's no-one to ask, because no-one seems to know what is going on outside where the luggage is loaded on the belt. Or maybe they know that nothing is happening outside and they are too embarrassed to tell you. In this case experience comes in handy again. If you have been through this before you know that you just stand in wait until you fall over, because there is still a chance of your luggage appearing. When you compare airports like these two, then only you realize how far behind some countries in the world are when it comes to service delivery. What a pleasure to travel through Schipol airport, you can actually arrive at your hotel with a smile and minus the headache you pick up when traveling through the airport at Luanda.

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