September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Too many times have all of us stood on a drafty platform staring desperately at a flickering monitor hoping that the scheduled train may at least show signs it is coming, let alone on time. And all the while clutching a £150 supersaver, saver plus, non-apex, away day, special ticket.
But credit, where credit is due.
Last Thursday, London's Paddington Station was gridlocked with passengers after a fatality on the line at Hayes and Harlington in west London. Nothing was coming in and nothing was going out at 1700, start of the peak time.
First Great Western was under a lot of pressure to sooth the frayed tempers of passengers, many of which are old hands at dealing with service delays and most cynical about excuses and pathetic compensation offers.
However, the train operator handled the situation very admirably. All passengers who had special needs, such as disabled people, families with small children and pregnant women, were looked after in a special room, given drinks, and kept informed as best as possible as to when their train would depart. Other passengers were given drinks and food on the platforms and also updated well.
Those who needed urgently to take the train were given priority when the services started rolling again and there was free food and drink on trains to help placate the customers.
All, in all, the train company and its partners at Paddington coped as well as can be expected.
Compare this with what happens at the airports when there is a delay.
Last month, at Heathrow for instance, passengers were stuffed into the terminals, kept waiting in uninformed never-ending queues and expected to cope for themselves. We stand to be corrected, but are not aware that there are special measures for those that are pregnant, disabled and travelling with small children.
At security, parents have had to lay their children on the floor, while they are searched, pregnant women having to stand without any signs of help, and minimum assistance offered for special needs travellers.
The airports have considerably more room than train stations ” or they would if they didn”t insist on cramming shops into every available nook and cranny ” and could do a lot more to ease the now tortuous checking in process.
Easyjet warns elsewhere in this edition that passengers may shun the airlines due to the airport experience and those that run Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester etc should heed its warning.
For too long, airports have treated passengers as commodities to spend money in their shops, rather than human beings wanting as hassle-free an experience as possible.
Let”s hope the worm doesn't turn.