USA Today reports American Airlines has some ideas on how to reduce lines in airport terminals (Airport Check-in: American Airlines expands help for fliers, Mar 8):
Airlines are expanding their line-busting experiments to more airports. American Airlines launched its Your Assistance Delivered Anywhere program, or YADA, at Boston Logan in July, in which employees roam the terminals with handheld mobile devices to help passengers with flight information, access standby lists and check bags. The carrier has since expanded it to four other airports, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, San Juan and New York JFK.
YADA, YADA, YADA indeed.
The article notes that United has a similar program that launched at O’Hare and is now in Dulles as well. The hope is that by having mobile workers congestion at counters can be reduced. It is unclear to me that this will pay off. The Boston Globe ran a brief article when AA introduced this program at Logan (Airline tests mobile bag check-in, Jul 24, 2009) that stated that there would be 20 mobile devices but no extra employees. Thus, instead of having all employees centrally located where a traveler might expect to find them, they will now be located randomly around the terminal. How is that an improvement? It may not be for travelers but it might pay off for AA. As the article notes :
Some agents are stationed at security checkpoints to monitor customers who may be carrying on bags that should have been checked. American Airlines, like most of its competitors, charges for checking bags.
United apparently puts its mobile help after security — that is one finds the line busters after one is through the worst of the lines. These people are not customer service reps; they are baggage cops. It makes one wonder how well the airlines understand their cost structure. They want the revenue from baggage fees but have to incur extra costs of roaming suitcase police and longer boarding times. I am dubious that having these people post-security does more than aggravate passengers.