You read and read those dry HBR and assorted blogs and Inc, Fast Company and Fortune Magazine articles about how SPEED is a competitive advantage. You hear CEOs intone how their firms are committed to it and then, finally, you see the real thing. It was glorious ‘efficiency porn’ and it was absolutely riveting to watch. 13th October 2012. Berlin. Schönefeld Airport. Around 9 PM. Dry cold day. Clear skies.
The RyanAir BERIN-LONDON boarding area is full, there is NO chair available to sit so I am standing and getting more fidgety by the minute. Jutsyna and I had spent a long day in the city, 6 hours of which were spent cycling. I am tired. So are the 2 dozen other people who don’t have a chair to park their aching feet. And the 100+ sitting passengers didn’t look too energized either. And the plane hasn’t even landed!
And then it did. And the 737-800 pulled right next to our waiting area. 20 feet away.
I found myself thinking despairingly “Damn…they are going to take more than an hour to seat us inside!”
And I then saw what I suspect is either incredible German efficiency or maybe RyanAir’s . Or more likely an even mix of both. Because, AND I KID YOU NOT, in less than 25 minutes that plane, that had just landed and disgorged it’s passengers, was cleaned, refueled, recharged and the waiting passengers seated and we were taxing OUT for take off. In less than 30 minutes (I wish I had timed it for precision) we were wheels up and on our way to London. In less than 30 #$@%$&$ minutes !
There are flights I have been on where they took 30 minutes to DE-BOARD the passengers! And there are FAST FOOD outlets where I have had to wait longer to get served. Hotels where I have had to wait longer for a ROOM to be cleaned. And you too, I am certain, can probably think of countless businesses where SPEED was touted as a promise and then seen the promise resoundingly broken by the company.
RyanAir gets a lot of flak for a lot of things but this was a winning moment where the critical act demonstrated right there how their low fares were achieved. It is difficult to join the pitchfork mob online when one sees this kind of visceral proof of efficiency and commitment to speed. No brochure from their PR team can match this pit stop magic.
After this Berlin incident I find myself constantly thinking on many meetings and con-calls “…. we should be able to do X in less than 30 minutes …Surely if a Boeing plane can be turned around in 25…..”