I arrived at the airport three hours early and heavy eyed, which is already a huge inconvenience. As I entered the terminal at LAX, I immediately noticed that something had changed. The long but orderly lines had been replaced with utter tumult and chaos. What was the source of this frenzy? The new “Self Check In” machines. This is only one of the many examples of a troubling trend in this country of replacing people with machines. I frankly prefer the conversations with the customer service people in Mumbai and Bangalor to trying to navigate your way around a touch screen surrounded by tired bitter people who just want to hand someone their passport and ticket so they can go get strip searched. The machines are clunky at their best and completely untenable at their worst. And mind you I’m no Luddite, I work as a professional television editor and have been my friends free tech support line for years. It took me forever to wait in the line just to get to the touch screen terminal. It took several minutes of banging my large Irish dockworker fingers on icons just to get the system started, and I ended up having to ask the flustered overworked attendant for help twice.
After I finally got checked into my flight I had to go to check in my luggage. I walked to the wrong section because osmosis wasn’t working that morning and nobody told me that there was a color-coded system that determined which area you had to go to wait for your name to be called. My name was being called for a long while in the red section without me hearing it above the complaints of the other weary travelers around me in the blue section. So once I finally got all of that taken care of, I then got to enjoy the new TSA security measures that all travelers are now so familiar with.
All of this being said, I’d like to think that I am a problem solver as opposed to a whiner so I have come up with a solution to the problem. Obviously, this was adopted as a way to cut costs, so why not outsource the work to India like we do every other customer service based industry in this country. I know what you are thinking, how would we do that without causing serious immigration problems? Well technically airports are international territory, I know this because you can buy a 30 dollar bottle of whisky for 40 dollars without having to pay taxes on it. So set up housing on airport property, pay them a fifth of what an American Employee would demand and everything should be fine. This is in jest of course, I certainly don’t condone taking advantage of those less fortunate than us. I just lament the deterioration of human interaction that is happening everywhere in our society, and is now creeping its way more and more into travel.
Written and photographed by Jason Fitzpatrick