After getting to Barcelona airport yesterday, I looked in despair at the long lines for the Iberia economy check-in. I thought I’d give the quick check-in machines a go, but I wasn’t seriously expecting them to work. I’d booked both flights for my roundtrip between LHR and BCN with BA but the return hop was operated by Iberia; the BA quick check-in at Heathrow had worked, but hey, this is a different airline, right? They’re not going to have my credit card details or anything, are they? The machine, though, seemed to accept the record locator (booking reference) as an alternative. Maybe this was a faint hope - though I’d had experiences with the BA website being incapable of viewing my reservations with AA, and vice-versa, so I wasn’t confident. But it all just worked - the boarding card was printed, and I was congratulating myself again for my foresight in only packing carry-on.
My worry was, though, that I was impressed by this. I shouldn’t be. This is honest-to-goodness systems integration. The volumes of data are not impressive. Even the transaction rates aren’t that impressive any more, to my understanding. And from an airline customer perspective, this stuff is rapidly becoming essential to stay competitive. Maybe some more regular travellers aren’t impressed: but I wonder how often things like this still don’t work? Are my expectations set too low?