London Heathrow Airport is an ode to modernity, technology and the jet age. It is enormous, a glorious city in itself a, proud proof to what men can build when they dream big. Today it is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. In the last 8 weeks I have travelled through it twice. Both times the experience was similar in that Arrivals was a long painful experience and Departure a short pleasurable one.
It looks like LHR’s management, BAA, have done everything to make your average flyer enjoy the experience of visiting it. From the latest shiny terminal, T5, to all the duty free shops to the enormous parking spaces, to it’s connectivity to London’s local transport systems to the clean cool waiting lounges, it looks like considerable effort and thought has been put to the whole thing.
Compare that to IGI T3, India’s latest attempt at proving it is ready to play at center court. It does not bode well that its previous attempt was the Commonwealth Games. We all know how that turned out.
But I love the IGI T3 because it’s motto (and keep in mind the T3 management does not realise it) is ‘Get the average traveller to want to leave it as soon as possible for here’. Nobody really wants you there. And I am speaking for the folks who work there and manage it along with the people who pass hurriedly through it . But in chasing this subconscious goal they are doing something BAA should maybe learn too : There are some services and institutions that best serve their customers by making the service experience of it shorter and briefer.
Think a hospital, police station, the voting experience or calling to resolve a billing dispute with your mobile operator. This is not the visit The Louvre or the new Apple store. Lingering is an option most will pass for the earlier mentioned places.
So do do make it easy.
And T3 -IGI ensures you want to and can get out of it FAST. I have probably set world records. Once I was out from the aircraft and into the local taxi in less than 30 minutes. No arrival at LHR matches that. On the contrary I still remember some horrendous long lines at UKBA (UK Immigration) where I was held up for more than 2 + hours. At Dallas airport, I kid you not, in August this year; I was in a line at customs that was almost half a KILOMETER long.
Maybe starting with the mindset ‘How can we make the visitors experience as SHORT as needed’ is actually a smart question in the planning meetings of these institutions vs ‘How can we make it a plush, rich, awesome experience’. Maybe for some services, SHORT is the new AWESOME.