As the cold months begin to bite into the Christmas season, thoughts wander to short, invigorating breaks in warmer climes. However, an eagerly anticipated rest and relaxation period often comes sandwiched in between the mad panic to get to the airport and catch the flight on time. Between stuffing your numerous suitcases with enough clothes to last you a lifetime, to obsessively checking your tickets just to make sure you didn’t read the flight time wrong, there is undoubtedly a lot of stress that precedes what is supposed to be a very calm and peaceful trip.
So thank goodness for this new company, who have created a helpful app to try to make the passenger’s airline experience a bit easier and smoother. The Facilitate4Me Change Practitioner of the Month award for October 2016 goes to…. AirPortr Luggage Transfer Service, who has designed a way to allow passengers to check in their suitcases from home, thereby enabling them to travel to the airport baggage free!
The service launched on 11th October, teams up with airline carrier British Airways to service Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports. It hopes to reduce the hassle of the journey to the airport and the amount of time spent in the terminals ahead of a flight, by up to an hour.
Passengers have to book a slot for the service at least 7 hours ahead of the departure time. An AirPortr team will then arrive at either the passenger’s home or hotel address, weigh the baggage, place a tracking bar code on it and seal it in an “anti-tamper” bag before taking it to the airport. At the terminal it is removed from the bag, passed through an X-ray machine and put in the airport’s normal baggage handling system, where the luggage will be ready for pick-up at the flight destination as normal.
AirPortr Co-Founder and Chief Executive Randel Darby was inspired to create the app after previously struggling with his bags on his way to Gatwick airport. He said, “I thought there has got to be a service out there that allows me to hand over my bags and get them taken straight to the hotel. But there was nothing and I was thinking ‘I can’t be the only person in the city with that sort of frustration’”.
The “game-changing” service is certainly an innovative idea aimed at revolutionising the way we air-travel, but there are a number of challenges with the service.
- The cost. Currently, the check-in service for a single bag costs £20 from homes or hotels close to airports, £30 in Central London (zones 1 and 2) and £40 in Greater/outer London. Additional bags will cost £10 each. These prices aren’t exactly cheap, and they may prove to be the most problematic for families in particular. For instance, a family of 5 living in outer London, will spend a whopping £200 just by using the app alone!
- The Trust factor. Will passengers feel comfortable leaving their luggage in the hands of somebody else, trusting them to get it to the airport and on the correct flight? A tracking mechanism that each passenger can use to follow their baggage from when it leaves their home to when it arrives at the airport can be an effective way to alleviate this issue.
- Accountability for security. A very common security question asked by airport staff during baggage check-in is if the passenger was the last person to come into contact with their bag, and whether they were aware of anyone who may have tampered with their luggage. Usually passengers can answer this question with a high degree of certainty, considering the luggage is in their possession from the moment they leave their house to the moment they arrive in the terminal. However, with the introduction of the AirPortr service, they can no longer answer this question definitively. As a result, airport security staff will almost certainly need to be retrained on the security impact of this new service.
Despite these challenges, AirPortr has clearly exploited a gap in the market that will undoubtedly make the lives of many travellers much smoother. Perhaps it won’t be long before this new form of service becomes more widespread in the airline industry….and cheaper.