Last month Garuda, the Indonesian flag carrier, started a service on its Japanese routes to Indonesia. It must have been successful because from 2nd June it will be introduced onto their Amsterdam-Dubai-Djakarta flights. And what is this successful service?
It’s processing your travel documents on board the flight so that you don’t have to queue at immigration desks when you arrive.
This is the one device that could endear me to an airline for life.
Think of how long you have had to wait at Cairo, New York, Sydney, Istanbul or even returning to this country. Immigration is probably the longest obstruction to your enjoyment of a holiday or trip now that you can check-in via machines or online. To be able to languish in a plane while an immigration officer processes your form, checks your passport, takes you fingerprints and stamps your passport would really be put visitors in a good frame of mind. All those feelings of despondency you get when you reach the immigration hall to be faced by only two desks working and a queue that snakes around endless man-made corridors would disappear. And then you’d feel so smug as you see all the passengers queuing who didn’t have immigration official on their flights and you just waltz through.
It would enable airports to be redesigned. The old immigration halls could be made into seating areas. Silly me I wasn’t thinking straight. Airports would turn it into more retail areas or another restaurant serving something inedible and overpriced.
And for airlines this could be another money spinner. Heed me, airline bosses. I might be prepared to spend money if you could guarantee that I wouldn’t have to go through the endless line at the immigration desks.
So BA, Virgin, BMI, American, United, Air France, Lufthansa, Qantas and you others. Who will follow Garuda and attract my business?