Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Air France



I had written multiple entries in a journal during my recent trip to France and will drop those in over the next week or two.  This was typed into my phone as I once again stood in a line that made no sense.  The French are very good at making wine, pastries, and setting up soul crushing bureaucracy.  A long history of socialized everything has created a society where coming up with noteworthy innovation is dangerous to those above you and could possibly make these overlords look bad.  The average worker that shows initiative will be rewarded with more responsibility but no gain in compensation or title.  The real goal becomes doing as little as possible and protecting their fiefdoms.  Air France is a great example.  Really nice and stylish planes with dynamite pain du chocolat and espresso served in flight.  Good luck at actually getting on the plane promptly...

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The perplexing inefficiencies of Air France continue to astound and amaze.  The system of check in at the Bordeaux airport are similar to most modern airports.  A self help kiosk allows travelers to immediately print out bag tags and boarding passes.  One would think that this would allow one to have the benefit of immediate bag drop off and access to security as all of the necessary documents are secured and ready to go.  Ah, but this is France.  All passengers are then herded back into the exact same line to wait as the two clerks for the entire line attempt to deal with every French person that apparently has none of the requisite documentation or may not have even purchased tickets.  They may have wandered in here by mistake thinking it was the license bureau.

Each traveler before me settled into the agent's station with blank faces.  Quick conversation.  The clerk immediately picks up the phone, held it to their ear in the "I hope someone picks up" stance.  Then we all resume waiting.  No conversation ever occurs on this phone.  The line continues to make no progress.  It's all business as usual.  Who could she be calling?  What answer is she seeking?

There are 63 people in line.  There are two (2) clerks.  I am the only person that has taken advantage of the 16 self help kiosks and is ready to go.  Of course, one would think that to encourage efficiency that a self help kiosk drop off desk would exist, to increase expediency.  Not at Air France.  It's just two women looking at computer screens searching for some unknowable answer until they take a break to call someone on the phone that no one ever answers.  It's perfectly designed gridlock.  

To the left of the huddled masses is the priority one elite check in area.  Three clerks await to check in passengers.  There are no passengers.  These clerks stare straight ahead.  They do nothing to assist moving the line which has grown.  A new woman arrives with a walkie talkie.  She assesses the situation and speaks into the walkie talkie, and then takes some sort of break with one of the two women checking people in.  No Calvary arrives.  We are now down to one clerk and 67 potential passengers.  I'm the only person that sees this as odd.

I have flown a couple of hundred times.  I can't recall ever being in a situation that each and every passenger seems to be in.  Each one runs into what appears to be insurmountable problems on what is a routine domestic commuter flight.  I would think that on this 620a flight we all had the exact same situation where Air France sent us an email confirmation to our phones providing us with two different options for immediate check in.  It doesn't seem possible I was the only one afforded this convenience, does it?  I look down the line.  Only I have my boarding pass and bag tag at the ready.  The rest of these 66 sheep are only waiting to look at the only clerk that will not talk to someone on the phone that might not be connected.  Maybe the walkie talkie lady will come back?

At last, I walk up to the counter.  Bon jour!  It takes 17 seconds.  I'm in.  What are these other people doing?  Why did I have to wait with them for an hour and change?

Then I go to security....  Ye Gods.  It's worse.

1 Comments:

At July 28, 2015 at 2:00:00 AM EDT , Blogger Smithy said...

I too passionately hate Air France, worst service of any airline, including all the budget carriers. Never use them!

 

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