I have never been a fan of budget airlines and certainly not since one left me sleeping overnight in the back of beyond that is Luton Airport. That may be an exciting addition to a student’s back-pack holiday itinerary but when you have a glass back it is not so appealing.
Nevertheless, they do fly to or near to where I need to be and the prices are much cheaper if you book well in advance, don’t pay with a credit card, don’t carry any luggage, don’t eat or drink, wish to sit next to your wife or use the toilet (thank you Fascinating Aida).
So, once again I found myself on the busy Birmingham – Bucharest route after visiting the heiress and some things are inevitable on a no-frills airline. I know the dimensions of my carry-on bag but so many others either forget to check or think they will get away with a dayglo sausage the size of Sicily without paying the penalty fare. That’s how they make their money; last minute, extortion, take it or leave it.
My second frequent observation is that there is usually someone sitting in my seat when I board. Yes, they move when challenged but only to another seat which is not theirs either. I know some airlines do or did provide a free seating/chaos policy but when you have a seat allocated on the boarding pass, sit in it!
Finally, we are off the ground and ascending before soon the engines throttle back and this is when I want to shout out some helpful advice to the captain, “change gear now”. I know how planes work but that bit off take off always makes me uncomfortable. The beep of the seat belt sign going off leads to an immediate dash for the toilets (I hope they pre-paid) and a long line of shuffling bodies.
The line of casually shuffling bodies soon turns into a twitching queue of concern as the red toilet sign above the cabin remains illuminated. Phones are consulted to pass the time and refocus the mind; people even read the safety information booklet and the duty-free magazine which is anything but duty free, of course.
Finally, a Flight Attendant needs to transport a metal trolley on inedible stuff to the other end of the plane and realises she cannot possibly conquer the lavatory line and politely knocks on the toilet door. No answer. Another tap-tap-tap plus an enquiry if everything is OK also fails to change the indicator from no-go red to free flowing green. The red light seems to glow brighter as if to irritate those with crossed legs.
This is now serious as the inedible stuff is getting cold and more people are standing in the aisle than sitting in seats. The pilot is probably having to battle with the controls to keep the plane centrally balanced. Something must give and judging by the faces of the queuers, this will be very soon. The red light glows.
Then action; the queue is guided away from the toilet door and back behind the curtain. Male and female crew members are poised to open the door using the emergency switch and they don’t know what or whom they will find. The door is cracked open as male and female eyes strain to see which crew member will take the lead and help the possibly stricken passenger. The red light vanishes and the green for go appears above the curtain. Relief is at hand.
There’s nobody in the toilet. The grateful mass of people takes one step forwards as the end is finally near.
So, what went wrong? Will the cleaning service at the destination find something a very unexpected item in the garbage area? Is someone hiding in the skin of the aeroplane plotting something nasty?
There was never anyone in the toilet in the first place and staff had forgotten to flick the switch to make it open for business. The red light stayed illuminated but it was not telling you what the real situation was with toilet occupancy and the impasse was allowed to go on for quite some time. The KPI (kay pee aye) was showing red but it was not telling you the reality and certainly not everything.
Don’t always believe your KPIs are telling you the whole story; challenge them routinely. They are frequently an indication of performance at a certain moment in time and a longer-term view is necessary as the business evolves. If your business is in trouble you may need a set of Recovery KPIs whereas a booming business on a roll may need a set which is far more forward thinking and aggressive. Supply Chain Analytics help you take the longer term view.
Blindly believing long term over or under performance can see your company quickly performance go down the pan.
Image courtesy of phasinphoto at freedigitalphotos.net