In our previous post, we spoke about how air travel has changed in terms of the flight experience. Today’s post will focus on the airport experience and how it has changed over the years.
Lounges have transformed itself into luxury, high-end and classy places for travelers to spend their layover. Not only that, but it is no longer exclusively available to business travelers who sit at the front of the cabin, but us, average travelers also have full access to it. It comes in many forms, whether attached to a premium credit card, the type of ticket purchased, type of elite status, or just simply by purchasing the membership. Some of the best airport lounges around the world offer services that a five star hotel would, along with spa services, daycare options, private bars, high-end restaurants, full sized showers to freshen up before a long flight and the list continues.
Online and Kiosk Check-In
Who would have thought that you can check-in before you physically step foot into an airport. Advancements in technology can really tie in the gap between airports and travelers. Today, with online and kiosk check-in counters, you may not even get an opportunity to speak with a front desk agent. This definitely defeats arriving hours early to wait in line to check in your baggage and get your paper ticket.
I thought all men were equal. When it was time for boarding, we would all try to run to the front of the line, hoping to get on the aircraft first. That was in the past. Today, it no longer works that way. Essentially, you are paying for boarding privileges. If you hold an elite status or have booked in business or first class travel, you can be guaranteed that you will be boarded first. Otherwise, expect to wait in line; oh and possibly fighting for an overhead bin space.
Since the attack of 9/11, airport security has really racked up to prevent the same incident from occurring again. Fair enough. I don’t remember taking off my shoes and belt as I walked through that airport scanner, but now it is very common to find barefoot travelers tiptoeing through that airport security line. A full body scanner. It’s not exactly the most ethical process out there, but it does help reduce risk.
Free Public Wi-Fi
Now how are you going to watch those aircrafts take off and land into the airport if you’re distracted by Facebook and Instagram. With most airports providing free Wi-Fi service to its travelers, arriving early for your flight doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Instead of watching those airplanes like we used to do, our heads are buried into our phones as our tweets continue to refresh through auto-update. Aircrafts have lost some of the attention they deserve.
Airport Parking Fee
It’s very subtle, but they seem to have increased slightly every year, at a pace that I have not noticed since parking at an airport has become a very rare occurrence for me. The good thing is, for some airports if you park for less than 30 minutes, you will not be charged. But if you’re caught parked longer than that, you could be paying a hefty fee to see off a friend or family member.
Checked Baggage Fees
What is this fee that you are charging me which permits me to bring a change of clothes, a toothbrush to brush my teeth and shower products to rejuvenate myself? Over the past recent years, airlines have decided to tack on a checked baggage fee, which means that for every baggage you check-in, you will need to pay a fee. And this fee increases as the more baggage you check-in. Oh, but don’t worry, if you have elite status, chances are you will not be caught paying for this service.
In the past, you would make your way to the airport, most likely earlier than the flight for a relative was supposed to arrive just to ensure that you would not miss them. Today, we no longer encounter that problem, as even the slightest delay in a flight can be found online. We can even account for the customs and luggage pick up time before we start heading our way to the airport.
When was the last time you saw a group of family, extending into the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmother, great-aunts, coming together to send off their beloved son, grandson, or great grandson on a trip out of the country? I don’t quite recall. That’s because with technology and smartphones, you don’t need to grieve over a loved one leaving as text and video applications allows you to see and chat with them whenever you wish. You often see the drop-off area outside the airport more crowded than inside.
In the last 15 to 20 years, air travel has changed drastically especially with the airport experience we originally encountered. It is difficult to confirm whether these changes have been positive or negative, but one thing we can witness is that air travel has continuously increased over the years. It is no longer an issue to travel from one place to another across the world and travelers are also more willing to pay for these services.
Personally, I love airports and get excited every time a loved one asks me to pick them up to the airport. It would be great to have the experience of seeing a loved one off return as this also shows the traveler your care and love for them. Skype and Whatsapp can never take the place of being able to physically hug a person you care about.
Flight Ticket Changes
In the old days, you can walk up to the airline counter and tell them you needed to change the details of your ticket and the front desk agent could do it on the spot. Today, you will need to pay a change fee which could range from $50 to $200 dollars depending on the airline carrier and there will also be cut off times for changes. Airline policies are much stricter today to prevent concerns such as identity theft and terrorist activity.
From past to present
Airport experience can be said to have become both convenient and difficult. Today, we can speed up the airport check-in process through online services; but we have slowed down the security process in order to increase safety measures and reduce harmful airport activity.
We can safely assume that we will never return to the world of no Internet as public Wi-Fi seems like it is here to stay. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will continue to inform travellers of flight updates, aircraft incidents and events happening at the airport in real time.