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Flight delay idea

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.

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  1. Marc,

    Actually your idea is not new. In Holland one can check flight schedules via teletext from home using TV as access.

    During one of my trips to Malaysia, because of using teletext to check the schedule I knew there will be 6 hours delayed for my trip. I had the bonus of additional sleep …

    The technology is there all the time. The problem is still is down to management. To be able to announce schedules, there is this finite requirement to be VERY accurate. And optimal coordinations between all the factors that input to a master scheule. I am sure anyone dealing with project managing would have no problem to recognize that. Otherwise, it will be same old, same old … Only benefit I see is delaying the anger from travellers to the ground crews …


  2. Hi Cindy,

    Problem with Teletext is that it is not accurate and that there is no additional information. When I had my extreme KLM delay earlier this year teletext never showed the expected departure time. The main annoying thing when being delayed is probably not the delay itself, but not knowing how long the delay will be. The more information the better, even if it is information you do not want to hear.

    I agree that it all depends on human beings and project management. But a wiki could certainly help because everybody who knows something and feels a little responsibility can add or delete information. China probably still has a very long way to go (but Schiphol is not much better).

  3. Hello Marc,

    I had the same problem you experienced in March this year. Mine was between Chicago and Newark. Took me two days to travel 2 hours. When it is EXTREME, I don’t think anyone can be better.

    BUT, I would cautious about:
    ‘… because everybody who knows something and feels a little responsibility can add or delete information ..’ Unless is a very well controled wiki login … If not careful one would find even more confusions. Again human.


  4. Hi Marc,
    what about the nice B&B in Beijing? I see, you want to keep the crowd away…
    Until soon, kisses to Qi

  5. Hi Susanne, I wasn’t sure if you would really appreciate me writing about it, but I still had a post in mind about the Red Capital Club, where I can casually mention your great hospitality 🙂 How was the dinner there last Saturday?

  6. Hi Marc, no need to mention it, I was just joking. I found the pictures. – Dinner at Red Capital Club: chilly, not many people, guess people now that it is difficult to heat a hutong house in winter, we ordered (among other)four hot and sour soups as they where delicious and warming us up!