A year behind

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Looking back at 2012 I have to say it was quite journey. I was actually wondering how much time we spent on the road and up in the air. So I grab a piece of paper and wrote all trips and destinations to see how far we travel, how many locations we visit, how much time we spend in the cabine, in the bus or in the car, waiting in the que or packing up to reach our destination.

At the beginning of the year we started in the Europe with small trips to Italy, Austria and Sweden. When the May pass we moved to Asia – Singapore to explore Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and some islands in Japan.

We spent enormous time on the roads but what is more interesting, was the time we spent in the air and on the airports. After 60 thousand kilometers up in the air you get the impression that this world is not big enough.

65.390 km is actual number according to google maps between all locations we traveled. As is common on every journey you meet a dozens of people that tells stories of their life. They travel from country to country, airport to airport, hotel to hotel or even from  beach to beach. Dots on the map so called cities become a location that earns it owns character, specifics un-tangible meaning tide up with incredible colourful memories. I tried to capture some of these moments and states of mind in small photo-book on Flickr and tumblr which recently becomes my public diaries.

(Total number of visited places this year is 132)

London > Stockholm > London > Vienna 

Everything starts in London. Venice was our first trip. Italy and all Italian people were so noisy ‘-), but in a while you just get use to it, and sometime even appreciate it. Incredible place to eat a lots of cakes - ladies. Destination between the airport and city was fair and within hour you can be in the hotel. After Venice I flew to Stockholm to support the project that has been assigned to me. Stockholm was amazing city. I had a chance to walk around the canals and city a bit. Lots of cyclist – literally cyclist heaven! Morning run in Djurgarden Park was just breath taking. Swedish people especially those I’ve meet, are very nice and open minded – I would love to come back. Following trip was to Viena in Austria. This airport I traveled over 40 times already. It seems to me like coming home. The positive things for the passengers Vienna has fastest check in I have ever seen.

London > Singapore

Moving to South east Asia happened literally over the night. Following day I entered to real summer. Singapore is one of the location in Asia that has relatively constant weather 32 degrees pretty much everyday.

Singapore > Tokyo > Nagasaki > Fukuoka > Okinawa > Fukuoka > Nagasaki > Tokyo > Singapore

In couple of days when I get settle down, I’m hitting road again and leaving through Tokyo to Nagasaki to spend my holiday. Booking via ANA was probably hardest thing in the world for the foreigners, but customer services in Japan were indescribable. Japanese people are generally very organised and externally polite. Arriving to Tokyo was reminding me again the time of my say in 2008 – 2009. For the transfer between the flights I had only 30 minutes and I was wondering I might miss the plane. In fact I manage even to have time to get アイスコーヒー (Ice coffee) and extremely tasty cheese-cake.

Nagasaki Airport

Next stop is the island called Iki - part of Nagasaki prefecture. Ferry transportation is quite common in South Japan and is extremely confortable. Organised que of people just moved as one on the deck in a sec – literally. 250 people in 5 minutes & ferry leaving docks.

Iki is famous for UNI if you don’t know – google it! If you do – this is the haven for Uni. Sushi, Sashimi, soup well basically everything was from uni – soo tasty. Our friend lend us the car so we could drove around. Driving around the island is very easy. Architects will probably knows Kisho Kurokawa and his work on Isshikoku Museum

Back to Fukuoka where we catching our plane to Okinawa. Two words “Okinawa is amazing” sorry it’s three, but you’ve got the point – this is the part of the world we I want to live. Okinawa deserve at least special page or post. Okinawa airport was very well designed all gates are just right if front of you – no looking for a numbers or lost in the crowd.

Then back to Nagasaki and through the Narita back to Changi – Singapore.

82 hour officially up in the air

More and more people geting to the cabine. Tired and exhausted from all the waiting. When they finally reach they seats, they have another challenge to face it. IFE suppose to be entertainment for your journey. I’m always curious and watching people how they observe, discover and struggle with new controls and navigations on these screens. Considering factors like a light reflection, response to the touch physical button and the reaction on the screen it’s always discovery.  Small kids automatically touching and swiping regardless switch mode on or off.  Poor UX literally make people suffer.

Three takeaways if you designing the IFE:

  • Select the language before anything else
  • Simple UI doesn’t mean less content - horizontally explore vertically select
  • Match the controllers with physical buttons

Public WiFi

Every airport welcomes you with Public WiFi so you can check your hotel, transportation or even you can call a friend to pick you up. All these services requires un-necessary painful registration. Predominantly not mobile optimised web offering a drop downs menus to choose the country that you’ve just arrived.

Best country that solve this is surprisingly Thailand – after you land you can buy for cca £20 unlimited internet sim card for 2 weeks. Problem solved – and you are reachable again! Or another solution could be same as on KLIA on arrival you have a set of hotspots with iPads locked down to the docking station for your immediate use – free of charge.

Surprisingly there is no airport in EU that has it – or do you know any?

Three takeaways:

  • If you have to design WiFi login for your provider – please avoid drop-downs & if you really need to use them (call your developer) so they are at least integrated with OS
  • All the airports should have WiFi named Airport Public WiFi so the user is one click away from the source – make it easy for the user.
  • If you really need some identification how about FB, twitter or G+ all of them are legitimate and has API to share the basic – name & email.

Digital property

Digital property all of airlines are pretty much same. This topics by itself deserve entire article I’ll focus only on two things – Booking and Customer services. Bugget airline has figured out how to improve their booking experience online and they setting up the standards (EasyJet & JetStar) but their services on the ground or on board are still not there yet.

On the other hand as an example of great customer services in both human and digital way – I’ve lost my luggage on the way to Stockholm. After registration that took 10 minutes I received 3 emails from BA. Saying “We apologise”, “We found your luggage” &  ”Your luggage was delivered to your hotel” on the BA expense, and I earned X air miles – “well done BA”.

Way Finding

Way finding is the key when you running out of the time or you meeting someone on the airport you never been to. Over a three decade we haven’t learn anything from people. Some of us can not read from long distance, or perhaps we just forget our glasses, but we still make all sign too small to be read from distance of 20-30 meters. It is exactly the destination you make a “decision” if you’ll turn to gate A or B – you just miss the plane.

Tickets

One of the most frustrating things when you fly is handling the ticket. I heard many times in front on me in the que “Oh, I forget print out my ticket” saying the lady holding her smartphone.

All airlines regardless the class should send “the confirmation email” including the ticket. Wouldn’t be so hard instead of selling me cars, hotels, and so on – include simple JPG / PDF with my ticket summarising:

  • WHEN > usually date
  • WHERE > Airport + Terminal + Gate (optional)
  • DEPARTURE > 16:00 (small) closing gate 15:00 (Big)
  • + MAP of the AIRPORT so you know where you going.

Actually, some airlines already do it – they only send a ticket and not long mail with 75 promotion how you should spend your holiday. Hope all airlines realise soon that we don’t need their promotions we need the facts in tangible simple navigation. On same note how many of you really download airlines apps for your smart phone? Or now how many time you actually use it. Hopefully someone soon will come up with unified standardised service for all airlines including tickets, maps, runways, weather, delay, etc.  Solution similar to Pass Book or Kayak.

Time spend by packing

We had about 24 trips in total – this give us approximately 2 hours for a trip spent of packing. Considering that we have to pack twice for our relocation from Europe to Asia and back is actually less than hour per trip. And to be honest, when we flew to Venice we just grab T-Shirts, shorts, creditcard, book of Haruki Murakami and camera ‘-) Packing took 3 minutes & Let’s go!

Conclusion

When you travel consider your space and space of others. Take as less as possible. Bring as much as you can counting experiences that you can share. Get yourself a nice book, camera and passport – that what you really need for the weekend.

And why you should travel – because you can.

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