Airlines say that self-service is the way to go. It makes customers travel easy. Customers want it.
Is it true? May be, but with limits.
Automated systems, such as online booking and self-serve checking-in, are programmed based on a set of assumptions, based on a hypothesis that all the things go well throughout a travel.
Travel however is full of irregulars. Each travel is different. In addition, passenger convenience is very personal. Self-service check in is stressful for me when traveling with 2-3 bags and luggage (This is a normal travel style for a woman traveling a long distance with connecting flights). There is no space to put a handbag. This requires me to do some complicating maneuver to pick up a reservation record from the bag before typing a booking number in a kiosk in front of me. The process is more complicated for a parent traveling with two young children.
I can go on to list other experiences of this kind. The same is true for aged passengers who don’t understand languages spoken by airline staff, or who are not familiar with doing things on computers.
Airlines are moving on toward “contact-less” travel.
The idea sounds good and logical to airlines, but I wish it doesn’t go too far. In reality, air travel is a complex activity as it involves a number of small but important events, from booking, checking-in, flying, changing flights to picking up luggage at the destination airport.
Self-service will work only if it is accompanied by a carefully organised safety net, as passenger requirements are so varied that one can’t take them into account in self-service systems. I hope airlines listen to customers carefully, in preparing the way forward of “DIY” or Do-it-Yourself in the air travel process.