Making Wilbur and Orville proud

I love waiting on lines.  Indeed, I’ve been known to go to Disney World, wait four hours in line for Space Mountain, make it to the front, and announce “hmm… I just wanted to see what it looked like up here,” and then leave the line just before boarding the train.  That said, why is it that people cannot figure out how to operate the automated check-in kiosk at the airport?

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest of AirTran Airways (nee ValuJet, the Altria of airlines), at LaGuardia Airport.  It was a busy Sunday at the airport, and a line of about 30 happy individuals snaked through the AirTran/ValuJet queue.  I placed myself at the end of that line, secure in my knowledge that the line was assured to move quickly as there were at least eight – nay ten – open kiosks!  And yet, after ten, then twenty minutes passed, there were still eight or ten open kiosks, but I had moved no more than ten feet forward.  I was confounded and bewildered!

When airlines first debuted the automated check-in kiosk, I was more excited than Andy Dick at a high school prom.  Not only did I love that the airlines were adding high tech gizmos to the check-in process (future posts will no doubt document my love affair with technology), but I also realized the brilliance of what the airlines were doing.  The kiosks allowed us, the paying customers, to do what we had previously been paying the airlines to do for us, although the airlines were still charging us for the customer service they were no longer actually providing. Because the passengers would now be doing most of the check-in process themselves, one attendant could attend to four of five kiosks at the same time, thereby speeding up the entire process.

At least that’s how it was supposed to work.  What I noticed in the line at LaGuardia is that the airlines did not take into account that there are two types of people who happen to frequent airports:  (1) The Morons and (2) Those Who Insist They’re Superior (TWITS for short).  Interestingly, neither of these types of people believe that they should operate a kiosk unless a uniformed airline employee is giving them their complete and undivided attention.

The Morons are an interesting group, because despite the fact that they presumably operated a two ton steel machine at high rates of speed in order to get to the airport, they are afraid to operate a TV screen mounted inside a box once they arrive at the airport.  This is unfortunate because the kiosk is a simple machine that asks only four questions: 1) What is your confirmation number; 2) Would you like to change your seat; 3) How many bags are you checking; and (4) Would you like a receipt?  If The Morons would at least approach the kiosk, they would only block one device, but sadly most stand at the top of the queue waiting for a uniformed attendant to signal them towards a kiosk, thus holding up the entire line.  Once The Morons reach a kiosk, they ask the attendant to use the kiosk for them.  Note that this makes The Morons quite smart, actually, since The Morons get the customer service that airlines used to provide, albeit now at great cost to anyone unfortunately trapped behind them.

While the airline attendant is busy operating a kiosk for The Moron, the line clogs again because now the TWITS wait at the top of the queue.  The TWITS know how to operate a kiosk just fine, but the TWITS refuse to use the kiosk because they believe they have a question or demand that requires the attention of the airline employees.  As it turns out, the TWITS are wrong.  For future reference, here are some of the common answers to the TWITS’s questions: “No, you cannot bring that Starbucks venti-grande-carmel latte through security even though you just paid $7 for it.  And no, asking a second time won’t change the answer”; “I appreciate the fact that you need to get to LA by 7pm, but I cannot get you on the noon flight because that flight is overbooked, so maybe next time you won’t show up three hours late to your flight”; and,  “Yes, the luggage weight fees really do apply to you as well.”

Air travel used to be a joy.  I, for one, could never understand why people complained about it.  I’m a lanky 5’6″ and I find the seats often too spacious.  In fact, sometimes I can barely reach the seat-back-pocket for my pre-licked copy of SkyMall magazine.  If only The Morons and TWITS would let air travel be fun once again, so that rather than waiting in a long line for check-in, I can instead spend my airport time in a long line to get a Cinnabon.


2 Responses to “Making Wilbur and Orville proud”

  1. 1 becky
    July 23, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    so, um, i don’t really understand your joy in waiting in lines to begin with. explain please

  2. 2 fortuneater
    July 24, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Not all lines are created equal. Pointless lines are not fun. Thus, an unnecessary line just to get a print out of a little card that tells you your seat on the plane is no joy at all. Waiting in line for a cinnamon and frosting flavored stick of butter in bun form, however, is not a pointless line. I would wait weeks for a Cinnabon if that’s what it took. Similarly, waiting 3 hours in line to get an iPhone is also totally worth it. Or so I hear.

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How the cookie crumbles

The concept for this blog is pretty simple: I get fortunes, and I then come up with what the next line of the fortune might be. Did you ever play that game where you add "in bed" to the end of the fortune? Think of this like that game, but requiring more effort to achieve something that will never be as funny as "in bed." Despite what the number of fortunes might suggest, I am not 500 lbs. Nor do I reek of moo shu pork. Thus, I don't eat out enough to keep this going for too long. If you have your own fortunes you want to share, send me a picture (along with your own next line) and maybe I'll post it. Hit me up at SoldierFortuna {A.T.} gmail.
July 2008
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Some legal crap (since I am a lawyer)


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