Alexa now works at British Airways

Well, kind of… for me, Alexa is synonym to AI - artificial intelligence.

We all experienced the long queues before the check-in counter in Terminal 5, lately called Baggage Drop-off for all of us who had their boarding pass with seat allocation printed at home. The queues did not shorten, we only knew our seat in advance. This all changed, the “Baggage Drop-off” became a “Self-Bag Drop”. Like a miracle the long queues were gone. At first I thought there was some kind of security alert, but everything was normal. Twice I was asked for my passport and destination and guided to a new experience: the Self-Bag Drop

After decades of flight check-in, I was allowed for the first time to print my own baggage label, and glue it myself on the suitcase - scan it - push the button - and the suitcase is gone. How exciting! A screen guided me through the steps, and it would have been nice to hear Alexa’s voice. It was fast and efficient. I think one reason why it worked so well was the triage - or selection process - performed by the BA employees as soon as you entered the terminal. Better then any machine they could identify very early insecure people, going through the process of flight check-in for the first time or hating touch screens, and guide them through the steps. All the nice ladies at the check-in desks were gone, but not redundant, as they now walked around helping those who needed help and assurance, at a early stage. If you are a frequent flyer, like most of us today are, you come prepared, know what to avoid and have your documents ready. Everybody else is assisted, leaving the “fast lanes” for self check-in open. OK, there is no more “discretion” for overweight luggage, Alexa decides when it wants to see your credit card. That is fine with me, check your weight at home, and do not pretend to be surprised, then plead, then haggle, finally insulting insult the poor employee. I have seen it all, in many hours of queuing behind these @%&$*. Now could Alexa please manage the M25 congestion to get to Heathrow...

Axel R Thill
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