A purely visceral rant

By | July 19, 2011

One facet of the “connectedness” that we all now have is the opportunity to comment real-time, without reflection or without consideration of what should be a proportionate reaction.

Today, that is an opportunity I am going to take.

I am sitting in LHR Terminal 5 for the umpteenth time this year, waiting for a delayed flight. I have caught this exact same flight over the last two months and every time it has been delayed. If you know LHR you will know there is only one airline that flies out of this terminal. Generally speaking the “World’s Favourite Airline” does try it’s best, but continued paring away at operating costs cannot go on indefinitely.

Sooner or later something has to give. It can’t be long before the ability of it’s managers to actually run an airline, with any degree of confidence in the scheduling, is exposed. The only time you can fly and make an arrangement at the other end, expecting to land on-time, is in the middle of the day. If you take an evening flight you may as well turn up 30′ late because that will be the average delay you will experience. Today’s excuse is the one about late in-bound aircraft. I have heard them all. So far this year that is top of the list, although issues with crew, not turning up, late on stand, etc etc is running a close second.

In the last millennia I worked on a crew-rostering system for BA, and devilishly complicated it was too, all algorithms, intricate calculations and scenario plans. It opened my eyes to the complexities of the crewing part of the process of running an airline, let alone the actual operations. So I try not to be too harsh. I am sure our program, called ALPS (AirLine Pilot System (if I recall correctly) has long since been replaced by some whizzy Objective C or Flash application. But I have no doubt that as a young programmer (‘developer’ in today’s parlance), I introduced my fair share of bugs.

The thought that I may have sent a crew, trained for 777s, to the wrong place to crew a 747 back to England, is some consolation, as I sit gazing up at the departure board with the all too-familiar “delayed until….” beaconing out.

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