Interminable delay

2 min read

While innovative technology to speed us through airports is welcome, isn’t the air travel industry missing the point?

While innovative technology to speed us through airports is welcome (


, 19 September) isn’t the air travel industry missing the point? Why does it take more time between leaving home and when your aircraft takes off, than it does in the air?

Airports are usually sited remotely so public transport is either difficult or sparse, typically taking an hour or more to travel there. Then, if you arrive by car, the ‘parking experience’ sometimes costs more than the air fare and can take 40 minutes or more.

Then you’re faced with the ‘airport experience’, for which you have to arrive two or three hours before your flight. Aircraft that carry ever-more passengers need ever-larger terminals to process them and more complex anti-terrorist screening processes that clever terrorists will no doubt circumvent.

Some of these time-consuming activities are even flawed. For example, your iris changes with age so scans can be ineffective for older people; and we can all smooth our fingertips fairly easily to remove our prints.

Surely this entire philosophy needs to be rethought. We need to apply lean thinking and map the customer-value stream.

What is needed are small local airports a short distance from where people live; easy nearby cheap parking; small terminal buildings; more flights by small aircraft carrying fewer passengers (say under 100); less than one-hour check-in time; slightly slower flying (and maybe lower to cut global-warming contrails) to reduce fuel use with flights maybe 15 per cent longer.

All this would be far faster, door-to-destination, than the time-consuming, ever-multiplying mega-procedures we experience now. And with fewer passengers per aircraft, it would be a less interesting target for terrorists.

Or should I be learning to enjoy this new leisure activity, called ‘home-to-take-off’? Ultimately, as these procedures grow and blossom will we all have to arrive at the terminal the day before our flight?

Dr C Mynott, Northampton

Dr Mynott wins £20 worth of Borders vouchers

Your ‘airport of the future’ does not sound like it will have anyone speeding through it.

The security checks described in your feature will inevitably lead to confusion and delay. Adding technically-advanced checks is fine in principle, but has anyone considered the practical consequences?

Imagine a family of five arriving at Heathrow — tired, in a hurry and told they have to take the iris test. Will their children have to take it? If so, how are they going to be led in an orderly fashion through the check? And if not, who will look after them while their parents are screened?

The ‘old fashioned’ way, with one member of the family presenting passports for all those travelling, is a much better proposition. If there are queues at the moment it is because there are insufficient immigration officers.

But as is often the case, the temptation of the authorities is to do away with people and replace them with technology in the name of ‘progress’.

Colin Arnold, Nottingham