Departure

This is a story about cost cutting gone mad. I arrived at Frankfurt Airport this morning, expecting to follow the usual routine of baggage check-in, and security. Nope. Not going to happen. Instead of quietly wandering up to a desk and having a staff member check my bags in I joined a huge crowd of people in the departure hall, fighting with new “self check-in” machines.

You stand in front of the baggage check-in machine, scan your boarding card (or work phone screen in my case), put your bag on the conveyor belt, and then attach the sticky luggage tag the machine spits out. It should be simple – and yet it is not. In London it worked well – the luggage labels were clearly marked with a peel-off section. In Frankfurt not so great – nowhere did it say that the luggage label had a special adhesive that was not sticky to touch, but would stick to itself. It caught absolutely everybody out – I wondered why everybody was taking so long to attach their tags, and then couldn’t figure it out myself – until a member of staff wandered up and showed me.

Here’s the thing – I’m not stupid – and I’m guessing neither is everybody else. Of course we will all get used to doing everything ourselves in the airport, as in every other walk of life. Robots, artificial intelligence, and process automation are coming if we like it or not – but you can’t ask a machine a quick question if you’re not sure what to do.

Anyway. I’m now sitting at the gate in the airport, and have spent my remaining Euro coins on a ludicrously expensive cup of coffee. It’s twenty minutes past nine at time of writing – the flight doesn’t start boarding for an hour and half.

While waiting at Frankfurt railway station this morning I wandered around a bookstore, and spotted “The Circle” – the book the movie is based upon starring Emma Watson, about the invasive nature of social networks. I made a mental note, and bought the book from Amazon while travelling to the airport – it’s already arrived on the Fire Tablet, so I might start reading it after posting this.

This is all becoming very routine (apart from the check-in adventure). Oh – somehow I managed to leave my mobile phone in my work backpack as it went through the security scanners – I’m amazed I didn’t get pulled to one side – I did it once before and had to empty my entire bag while the security staff swabbed everything for explosives. I’m thinking I need to wear cargo trousers instead of jeans when I fly – because then at least I have the extra pockets for phones, wallet, passport, and so on.

I finally got around to watching the final few episodes of Mr Robot last night. It’s become noticeable that US made TV shows craft the final episode of each season in such a way that they could end right there, but they could also continue (you know – in case they get renewed for another season). I guess I’m hoping that the show returns to it’s roots, and gives Elliot a chance to bring down the Dark Army.

Ok – an hour until boarding. I’m going to go read my book.

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