Martin Pool

higher velocity in losing your luggage

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I’m in Terrassa, Spain, for the Canonical allhands meeting before UDS Karmic.

I brought my motorcycle helmet with me as special-handling checked luggage, for a ride around here next weekend.  I think it missed the connection in London, but it showed up today apparently unharmed so all is well.

But as it happens I read a great Malcolm Gladwell essay which mentions this topic in passing — a real example of how we can take stupid inefficient processes for granted when they’ve existed for a long time:

Ranadivé [founder of TIBCO] views this move from batch to real time as a sort of holy mission. The shift, to his mind, is one of kind, not just of degree. “We’ve been working with some airlines,” he said. “You know, when you get on a plane and your bag doesn’t, they actually know right away that it’s not there. But no one tells you, and a big part of that is that they don’t have all their information in one place. There are passenger systems that know where the passenger is. There are aircraft and maintenance systems that track where the plane is and what kind of shape it’s in. Then, there are baggage systems and ticketing systems—and they’re all separate. So you land, you wait at the baggage terminal, and it doesn’t show up.” Everything bad that happens in that scenario, Ranadivé maintains, happens because of the lag between the event (the luggage doesn’t make it onto the plane) and the response (the airline tells you that your luggage didn’t make the plane). The lag is why you’re angry. The lag is why you had to wait, fruitlessly, at baggage claim. The lag is why you vow never to fly that airline again. Put all the databases together, and there’s no lag. “What we can do is send you a text message the moment we know your bag didn’t make it,” Ranadivé said, “telling you we’ll ship it to your house.”

It would be nice if the steward could come up during the flight, tell me my bag hadn’t made it, and then ask for my hotel details to deliver it. It would have saved most of an hour waiting at the airport. (And if you count all the passengers waiting in line with their travel companions, several person-days just for that one flight…)

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Written by Martin Pool

May 17, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Posted in none

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