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When paying a king's ransom seems like the best choice

Ben Hunt

Group Communications Director, Amadeus IT Group

The bride looked beautiful, as all brides do, and the groom handsome and cultured in his bow tie. Everyone in the chapel basked in their happiness and looked forward to a touching service and a wonderful day.

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While I sat at the back of the chapel, intermittently worrying about how I was going to get a boarding pass printed out for my low cost carrier flight first thing the following morning.

I understand the logic and economics of asking passengers to check in at home or the office and to remove that burden from the departure area at the airport. It makes sense for the traveler who can head straight to security on arrival at the airport (if they have cabin baggage only) and for the carrier that can reduce printing, personnel and doubtless other costs at the airport. It’s fast and efficient.

And it is not usually any sort of a problem. I have access to a printer at home and in the office. On this occasion, however, I was not in the office or at home, having broken off from a holiday to attend the wedding, and having forgotten in the chaos of departure to print a boarding pass.

Keeping up with the times

In this highly connected 21st Century  I should have been able to use a mobile boarding pass, but the unfashionable device I was carrying did not support my airline of choice, and besides the battery is so unreliable I could never guarantee turning up at departures and being able to fire it up.

The airline’s website was surprisingly unhelpful on the topic. I knew that if I’d been on other low cost carriers I could turn up and pay a king’s ransom to print a pass, but even supposing I wanted to take this option and convert my low cost flight into a full fare one (without the free coffee) it wasn’t clear from my airline’s website that even this was an option.

Hence the anxiety in the church and through most of the reception until the champagne dulled my interest in the topic. It’s odd to think with hindsight that this could have wound me up so much. I’m a frequent flyer, averaging well over 50 flights annually in recent years, and I know most of the tricks to make flying smooth and efficient.

Alternative solutions

Having discussed this with friends and colleagues, I found similar stories. One colleague describes his mother wandering around her rural village trying to find a neighbor with a printer who could help out. A second tells the story of a friend who had to have a boarding passed mailed to them!

The bring-your-own system works well in 99 per cent of circumstances – essentially those with a printer and with iOS and Android devices, but not in all circumstances and it would be helpful if the airlines were a little clearer on how to address the issue if not.

I eventually arrived at two potential solutions to my problem: try to check in direct with the airline at the airport and pay whatever fee they demanded; or visit an internet kiosk at the airport and pay for online and printing services that were apparently available.

As it happens at 1am as I returned to my hotel a third option presented itself. While the Holiday Inn did not have a business centre, a very kind receptionist agreed to print the pass for me. Two copies, of course, just in case… Now that’s good service.

  Editor's note: We asked Amadeus employees to share their travel experiences and thoughts on personalised, connected and sustainable travel. You can check out all their responses in the Summer blogs tag page.