Travelling is not easy at the best of times but coming home on a very delayed flight to discover that the airport you arrive at has a problem with its baggage retrieval system doesn’t help already frayed nerves. And that’s on top of the queue you have already been standing in for fifteen minutes while you struggle through passport control watching fellow passengers be told that they’re not pressing down hard enough on the right page of their passport for the new machines to read the details, or that, in fact, you have the wrong sort of passport to be standing in the queue you’re in in the first place.
None of the screens in the baggage retrieval hall were working at all and at least one of the belts had stopped completely while the others carried a selection of luggage from who knows where in an eternal loop while passengers ran from belt to belt trying to read tags on random luggage to see if they could recognise flight details.
To make matters worse, there were no members of staff around to help explain why the hundreds of passengers who were milling around have no idea which belt will give them back their suitcases, golf clubs, and skis.
That’s what happened to me, and thousands of tourists to our capital city, at Edinburgh Airport two weeks ago. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, and it was a very poor welcome to Edinburgh right at the start of the holiday season.
Things will go wrong from time to time, we need to expect that, and be ready for it. But we shouldn’t have to expect chaos. There should be a plan in place to ensure that when something like this happens staff are available to help out and make sure that passengers know what’s going on and how long it’s going to be before the problems they’re facing are resolved.
Companies and organisations are judged not by whether things go wrong on their watch, but by how they react when things go wrong, and by that measure Edinburgh airport was a failure last Wednesday.