Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Airport queue frustration

Larnaka Airport is bigger and more modern than it was when we arrived here nine-and-a-half years ago, and there are many improvements promised. But it seems to me that, no matter how plush (or otherwise) an airport is, the checking-in process is fairly horrendous. Larnaka Airport is far from plush - it's a huge squarish room with check-in desks all around, nowhere to sit, really, and the only restaurant before passport control is upstairs.

Richard's mother came on a charter flight with Thomas Cook, as it was most convenient and good value. Unfortunately, there are a lot of these flights at present - people mostly use them for package holidays - and today they had five flights leaving Larnaka.

We arrived at the airport just before 4.30pm, correct time for a 6.35pm flight, although we knew from the excellent Flightstats site that it was going to be fifteen minutes late. But we thought it better to be a little early, and planned to have some coffee together before Richard's mother needed to go through passport control to board.

There were several check-in desks for Thomas Cook, all for 'all flights'. All the queues were lengthy. So we picked one.

Alas, we had picked the slowest. By a LONG way. A couple in front of us got fed up after about ten minutes and moved to a different queue, where they quickly moved to the front and were checked in perhaps fifteen minutes later. We stayed where we were. And waited, and waited, and every so often crawled slowly forward...

By the time we reached the front, we had been standing for over an hour. Nothing to lean on. The air conditioning wasn't even on - I suppose it isn't hot enough, but it was distinctly warm. We couldn't understand why everyone in our queue seemed to take about four times as long as anyone else to be checked in - the girl on the desk seemed to have to consult with her neighbour or a supervisor fairly frequently. But by the time we were close enough to see that, it was too late to move to a different queue.

When we finally got to the desk, we realised that the girl didn't have very good English. Sufficient for standard conversation, but presumably some people had extra questions, and she needed help in understanding and replying. Or perhaps she was just learning the job. Or standing in for someone else. I don't suppose it was her fault that the queue was so slow, but it was very frustrating and exhausting, and by the time we were through it was only ten minutes away from boarding time. So we didn't even get to sit down in the restaurant.

We were not impressed.


jj said...

Ouch! I've seen a documentry program thing called Aiport and often have Cyprus on it!

I feel partly sorry for the girl at the desk ... inadequate English, or learning the job, whichever ... if it were me I'd have got just as frustrated as the customers probably, and wonder why I took such a job in the first place tehe!

I'm nervous about travelling soon!

asio said...

Well, yes, sometimes it is like that.
Just; the "supervisor" could have told -every now and then- the queueing passengers, that there was a trainée at the desk, and people could move to another queue, if they wished.

It´s all about client service: being informative, apologising the delay, encouraging both the "newbie" and the exhausted travellers.