I’ve spent a good part of this past summer travelling for business. In the past, I might have flown a few times a year for conferences, but this year I’ve earned quite a few “miles,” Now, I know that some of you are already experienced Road Warriors, and you are probably already laughing at me, but I’d like to share some “learnings” from my lean perspective!
Who’s the customer of an airport? Not, it would seem, the fliers. Yes, we spend the money for the ticket. And what’s value-added for us? Getting on the plane in time for departure – comfortable flight – arriving on time, at the right airport, safely – retrieving baggage easily – obtaining transportation to the next destination, Did I capture that value stream?
So let’s take a look at the process of just getting on the plane. In order to get on the planein time for departure, we:
1. Start boarding 1/2 hour before the flight. In order to do that, we
2. Arrive at the boarding area at least 1/2 hour before the flight. In order to do that, we
3. Arrive at the screening check gate at least 1/2 hour before that time, guessing how long the lines will be in the waiting lanes. In order to do that, we
4. Arrive in the terminal at least 1/2 hour before that time, guessing how long the lines will be in the check-in waiting lanes. In order to do that, we
5. Arrive in the parking deck/lot at least 1/2 hour before that time, guessing how full the deck will be and how long it will take to find a parking space, then walk or take the bus to the terminal. In order to do that, we
6. Leave our home or office (depending on the distance, of course) with at least an extra half-hour to spare, guessing how many construction or traffic delays will be encountered along the way to the airport.
That’s a lot of non-value-added time! Now, of course the process has many “short cuts” for those willing to pay for, or arrange for, the extra “privilege” of a lean experience!
6. Could use a taxi or limousine service to the airport.
5. Could park at one of those park-n-go places near the airport, and take the shuttle to the terminal.
4. Could check-in on-line, to get the boarding pass printed out, and use curb-side check-in for baggage if available.
3. Buy first-class ticket to go through the security check-points using the “first class” lanes, if available.
2. Ditto, to board the plane first (extra benefit, have a drink & sit in a comfy seat while watching everyone else file past for half an hour).
1. Or, take a chance and try to minimize waiting by arriving just as the boarding ends (might have to accept a certain risk of failure with this strategy, though!).
So how could the airlines/airports make the travel value stream a little less non-value-added? Doesn’t it seem as though the air travel experience could be made a little more lean for those of us who buy airplane tickets? I’d love to hear from you frequent fliers who’ve had time to think about this during all those hours of waiting in line!