Technology failure and Changi Airport Terminal 4

I was at Changi Airport Terminal 4 on Saturday (07 July 2018) to check in for a flight and encountered a horrible long wait as all the self-check-in stations were out of order.

Terminal 4 was designed around a low-manpower concept where the travellers would do their own check-in, luggage tagging and deposit. This concept obviously failed on that Saturday morning.

Not only was the queue very long, it was very disorganised. All the passengers were in one queue, both the urgent cases (flights departing soon) and the lower priority cases. There were not enough manual check-in stations to clear all the passengers quickly enough. Furthermore, the manual check-in stations were not separated according to the flights, to allow passengers on flights departing soon to be processed quickly separately.

The self-check-in stations finally came back online after about half an hour of queuing, but by that time, I had missed the self-check-in window by 3 minutes (cutoff time 1 hour before flight). I was redirected to the manual queue, which moved extremely slowly, so it took another 15 minutes to finally check in. By this time, I had almost missed the check-in window and hence the flight!

If a company wishes to cut back on manpower costs and on service provision, the self-service process should be made smooth and hassle-free for the customer. If a company wants to rely on technology over manpower, make sure the system is robust.

Unless Changi Airport is tired of it’s #1 rating, I would advise it to reconsider the self-service concept if it cannot be done well.

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