Monday, March 31, 2008

Heathrow Terminal 5: "John" London Cabbie Analysis

On Radio Five Live yesterday a cabbie, whose name might be John, managed a beatific rant about Terminal 5. Rehearsing the problems and processing delays with all the other terminals. And raising the prospect of the demolition and rebuilding of Terminal 2 in a year or so's time to look forward to.

Best comment of the rant was along these lines:

"These people (BAA) have an abysmal record. Give them Radio Five and they'd soon have Radio One and Radio Two and Radio Three and Radio Four on their knees too. And Radio 6.

He forgot 1 Xtra and Radio 7. But this was a good point well made.


Anonymous said...

This was bound to happen and the evidence was there from many years coming. Allow me to explain.

Together with the rest of the UK the language of the UK has changed in say the past 30 years. Words such as "customers" feature very prominently and are intimately related to promotion propects of anyone in Britain today. Gone are the days when COMPLEX things were undertaken correctly, because COMPLEXITY requires concepts such as "CLIENT BENEFIT" but our "business" leaders speak about "customer satisfaction". Today I saw the CEO of British Airways apologizing to "customers" at T5 as if the solution to the problem is related to "customer satisfaction" rather than to client benefit, rather than to having someone in charge of British Airways with high technical education, someone with a PHD for example.

I am convinced that all of this mess has to do with having a bunch of uneducated people at the top of these firms such as British Airways. Typically you get "managers" and "people persons" and "aggressive MBA types" who all speak about "our customers" and that is how they get promoted.

Delivering a T5 is a complex system which requires that sufficient people at the top of BA and BAA have a very solid technical training to handle the complex. Life is not simple, it is complex, and so you need extremely numerate people, "German Engineers" to run such an operation, rather than these overpaid and political people sheisters.

I never fly BA. Once they tried to sell me an upgrade to the flat bed in business class and the cabin crew described the seat as "a product". "let me show you the product" he said. So I replied "It is not a product man it is just a seat".

You see this in premium economy. The seat looks very beautiful but it is unccomfortable as hell.

My view is that I just fly airlines such as Iceland Air of the Far East airlines, societies that reward and place the research engineers in charge of things.

So there is my explanation about why the mess occurred in T5

Chris Paul said...

That seems like a reasonable explanation anonymous. Though it must be said that similar things have been repeated on launch at many modern air terminals .... though not Beijing .... so it is not only Germans that can make them work.

I have had bags lost or damaged by at least three flag carriers, or at least two plus Continental anyway. Used to travel on BA quite a lot with no problems ... though best fun after an airport cock up was probably the pair of merc limos that took us from Frankfurt or the like to Brussels to catch a Sabena connection when Lufthansa and a German record company cocked up ... just the once probably in their whole careers.

Continental at Newark were a complete and utter disgrace 36 hour delay, deliberate over booking and missing slots as standard, shoddy overnights, and obviously baggage lying around all over the terminal, and then being shipped to the wrong UK airport.

What's more our flight turned round when 80% across because of a passenger who started panicking after just 5 minutes. We set off again after an hour but only after the upper crust passengers were persuaded that they should manage with less than the full complement of first class cutlery or we'd lose another 24 hours ...

They relented immediately the captain announced the stand off to the steerage passengers.

Manchester Airport does not belong to BAA and that's hopefully how it will stay. I know Bristol Lib Dems tried to sell theirs for about 10% of the true value, and that LD Liverpool's is owned by the fairly disreputable Peel Holdings ...