Greetings from Melbourne airport where I am trying to find out how to get to Tasmania. It turns out that Melbourne Airport is a remarkably difficult place to find out about flights.
My flight from Newcastle from Influence Forum 2007 was delayed by fog and rain and, more unusually, a power failure at the airport causing the arrestor cables used to stop military aircraft possibly being armed, so I missed the connection to get to give talks in Tasmania.
At Melbourne Airport, the check-in counter of the airline I was booked with could only tell me when their airline had the next flight, not which other airline flew there or when. Their primary concern seemed to be if I wanted a refund (which was not a priority as a room full of people were going to be waiting in Tasmania for a talk).
So I had to go from counter to counter asking each airline. Even finding an inquiry counter was difficult: I had to queue up just to be able to ask where to queue up to ask. By a process of elimination, walking from counter to counter, airline to airline, in two domestic terminals (separated by the international terminal), I found that several flights had closed. What I should have done was sit down and fire up the wireless web, then I could saved a walk and several queues, by checking each airlines web site. Also on the web there are consolidated travel services which will tell you which airlines fly to which cities. Perhaps Melbourne Airport should put in some kiosks for this.
You could also have tried calling them on the phone, but in my experience that would have been even more frustrating and ultimately useless. Much as I hate to say it, interacting with large companies through the impersonal medium of the web is now preferable to trying to sort out anything with their employees either face-to-face or on the phone. Companies have so few people now, they are so over-worked, they have so little power, and their training is so concentrated on profit and "efficiency" rather than on actual customer service, that speaking with a human employee is often more dehumanising that using a web site. (And that's even taking into account the poor design of many of their sites.) It's a very sad state of affairs.
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