Wednesday, June 03, 2015

A Record for LAX

I am currently sitting in LAX en route from San Jose to Cincinnati, where I am giving a talk. I have concluded that LAX holds a record. It is the worst marked airport in the world. It's true that I have not actually been in all of the world's airports so there may be one somewhere that is worse, but I doubt it.

I arrived on Delta, was to leave on United. The Delta terminal had, so far as I could tell, no signs showing what airline flew out of what terminal, no signs showing how to get to terminal 7, which turned out to be where United was, no visible information for any non-Delta flights.

I succeeded in finding my gate by asking people along the way. If I did not speak English—and a lot of people coming through LAX don't—I might still be looking.

LAX is currently under construction, which can explain some problems, but not this. It would be easy enough to make up a signboard showing which airline was at which terminal and put one in every terminal. It would be easy enough to put up signs showing, from each terminal, what direction you went to get to each other terminal. But nobody has bothered, judging at least by the Delta terminal and most of the space between it and United.

6 Comments:

At 3:07 PM, June 03, 2015, Blogger Kerry Soileau said...

"Delta sucks at LAX!" is a corollary to the general theorem, "Delta sucks!"

 
At 5:12 PM, June 03, 2015, Anonymous Stephen Dawson said...

Is it Delta that sucks or LAX that sucks? My wife and arrived on a Qantas flight from Australia in March and the complete absence of signs had us worrying about finding the right place for our codeshare American Airlines flight to San Francisco. It wasn't helped by the security lady telling us that someone would guide us after we exited the terminal. There was no-one there.

We asked, and found that we needed to walk ... just about a hundred yards. The next building was the terminal we needed.

A proposal: I would have thought that for quite a modest cost the airlines or terminal operators could pay a small amount to first-time visitors to complete questionnaires on how they found negotiating the facilities. Make adjustments. Repeat. Through a process of iteration things could be improved to the point of the experience becoming smooth and worry free.

But, I guess, these are local monopolies, so why bother?

 
At 5:34 PM, June 03, 2015, Blogger jimbino said...

MIA is just as bad. Everytime I have to pass through it, I wonder how the many foreigners manage to deal with it. Two days ago, I came off a plane looking for the rental-car shuttle stand. The only pertinent signs indicated the direction to the "Rental Car Center." Now a rental car center is where you rent a car, where there's not normally a shuttle. Only when we got near the actual shuttle stand did we see the first sign with the word "shuttle."

Airports must be run for the benefit of the employees, not the travelers.

 
At 6:34 PM, June 03, 2015, Anonymous Jessa said...

David, this seems to be an economics problem: The airlines have no real incentive to improve customer experience except at the very high end (which they do). And they similarly have no incentive to improve inter-operability with their competitors, since they operate as effective monopolies at most of their airports. Is the airline business subject to pressures that would improve customer service without bankrupting the airlines or pricing air travel out of reach of great majority?

 
At 6:43 PM, June 03, 2015, Anonymous Power Child said...

Wait, you're gonna be in Cincinnati? When? And for how long?

@Jessa:

I think it's really a human factors problem. The airport/airline management (whoever's job it is to put up signage) forgot that human beings have to navigate around the airport, and that those human beings aren't necessarily familiar with the airport.

 
At 10:26 AM, June 04, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Power Child:

I am in Cincinnati at the moment, to give a talk this evening to people who grade AP economics exams. I fly home tomorrow.

 

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