I had an interesting experience yesterday and it fits right in with keeping an eye on technology. However, this time it is about doing without technology.
This past week I was in Norfolk, VA for a conference and when I arrived at the Norfolk International Airport for my flight home to Jacksonville we walked into a dark check in lobby. There was nothing but backup power at the airport. It seemed critical systems such as luggage scanners, x-ray machines and some minimal lighting was on but that was it.
ZERO computers were running. ZERO check in kiosks were running. This power outage was a result of the huge Nor’Easter that hit the area back on Tuesday and stuck around for 3 days.
So I lined up to get checked in and there were three Southwest Airlines clerks manually checking everyone in. I was surprised at how fast the line was moving considering they were doing everything by hand.
If you had your confirmation number then it was that much easier to get checked in manually but not having it did not prevent you from getting your flight. If you had pre-printed your boarding pass before arriving it was even easier.
At check in they put a paper tag on my checked bag and handed me a paper pass that would get me through the security checkpoint. Bags were being manually taking by cart from the check in area back into the airport for delivery to your assigned flight.
Once I arrived at the gate things were pretty orderly and each flight was being handled in sequence from one gate. I assume this is because of the limited number of gate/ticketing personnel they have on hand because of the work that computers and kiosks handle these days.
At the gate once they were ready for my flight they checked me in, handed me a plastic boarding pass and I waited. Those individuals who had pre-printed their passes were the first to load – even the B’s and C’s (if you know Southwest Airlines boarding process you understand this) went ahead of the rest of us. It was a good day to have printed that boarding pass out at home!
Those of us with plastic boarding cards were then allowed to board and take our seats.
All in all we were about an hour late in taking off. When you think about the hold ups that could have happened only taking off an hour late was superb under these circumstances.
Great job by the Southwest Airlines (http://twitter.com/SOUTHWESTAIR) personnel as well as the airport staff.
Just goes to show that we are not as dependent on computers as we think we might be at times.