Sunday, April 20, 2008

Terminal 5: An apology to Willie Carson

I've recently flown out of, and back into, Stansted Airport.

It's amazing.

They actually take your suitcases off you and get them onto your plane before you take off.

All without any to-do.


This morning I witnessed a remarkable team at Monastir, Tangiers who were able to pull off the same trick as Stansted. Bless them. They did it with old generation computer programmes (remember - the ones where there is white text on a black screen and the cursor blinks enticingly at you?) and quite a lot of paperwork being shovelled about. But, by golly by gosh, pull it off they did.

No doubt several books are going to be written about the Terminal 5 debacle.

The most obviously stupid mistake of the whole sorry affair was: Why the heck did BA/BAA boast, before the opening, that there would only ever be one person in front of you in the queues at Terminal 5?

"You can expect no more than one person in front of you at check in,"
British Airways director of customer services, David Noyes. 14th March 2008.

That is the sort of childish mistake which wouldn't be made by any self-respecting business diploma recipient in their first week of work. (It only needs a trainee journalist to stand at the queues for a few minutes, note that there are queues of more than one person and - bingo - there is a story). It is a mistake born out of corporate hubris which cannot be shrugged off by sacking a couple of managers (and I note that David Noyes (above) is one of the directors who has left BA).

(I hesitate to load all the blame on BA. There is a fascinating article here from the deputy head of British Midland International, who offloads considerable ordure onto BAA.)

It is all frighteningly reminiscent of the appalling BA tail-fin repaint job. That was a corproate catastrophe which also prompted a few books and could also have been foreseen by a business diploma student ("What's your USP?"..."Oh your Britishness, is it?"...."Oh well, let's get rid of that for starters"....)

I joked a few weeks ago about Willie Carson running BA. I apologise to Willie Carson, his friends and family. I realise now that Willie Carson would make a better job of running BA than the current incumbent.

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