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A Tech Too Far

Stress and Travel

It is always interesting to watch the advance of technology. Or, at least, what many involved in travel tech see as "advances". Many are not "advances" at all, simply taking an old idea and giving it a brush down and spending a few squillion on advertising to make something look like a great advance.

"Self Connect" is a good example. What boils down to joining up two flights that you cannot join up, giving the booking a fancy name and then putting in the small print: "if you cannot make the connection, it is not our problem".

But I digress.

The thing that is missing (in the mandating of travel tech) is a sense of balance. To what extent do you allow tech to take over and remove human contact? To what extent, where you do have human contact in any process, do you allow that contact to have real power to get things done... or are they to be mere functionaries who can just explain how to press button "B"?

The gulf between tech, the tech operatives or "helpers" and anyone with real power to actually achieve something, has become much wider and worryingly, much more remote to the extent that, in some cases, there is no direct communication between a "functionary operative" and a decision maker.

Case in point: I had recent cause to get hold of a major legacy European airline in order to assist an ailing and distressed passenger. All numbers for the airline led to a call centre at the other end of the world and that call centre (and you could not make this up) had no ability to contact the actual airline direct, let alone the airport. "All airline contact numbers have been taken from us" said the call centre bloke. He had to repeat that for me a few times before my rather tired brain managed to make some sort of connection to his words, that managed to get beyond the tenuous.

In this case, it happened to be a passenger paying the full business class fare; but it should not be so for any passenger, no matter what class or what fare had been paid. The airline had taken their addiction to tech to an unacceptable extreme, leaving no mechanisms in place to enable an operative to be able to reach out to resolve an issue; indeed, any issue.

This is tech taken too far. It is not what service, nay, running an airline should be about.

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