Sitting on an Air China plane between Beijing and Shanghai. As usual it was delayed by over an hour, and as usual there was no announcement as to why and how long the delay would be. After an hour they suddenly announced a gate change (only in Chinese by the way), but after arriving at the new gate there was indeed a bus waiting to drive us to the aircraft.
While waiting I was musing on why it is so difficult to get information on delays.You always see customers getting angry at ground staff, who have no clue either. And this is not just in China, I had the same many times in Europe as well (see also an entry on this weblog early March this year when the KLM flight I was taking was delayed by 28 hours). Why not set up a simple website that is accesible by both ground staff and passengers and where you can see the status and reason of a delay. An airport like Beijing could hire one or two people to run this site – well, maybe a few more as almost every flight seems to be delayed nowadays. Or even better, make it a wiki that can be changed by all ground staff with information about the flight delays.
Of course this assumes that passengers have access to internet, and this is still a little problem. There is still no free wifi on airports in China, and going online on phones is still in its early stages (the introduction of 3G in China next year will likely change this). But a simple screen next to the gate would do the job. Get those screens sponsored and show commercials when there is no delay and it pays itself back.