Heathrow is in the middle of a space crisis -- too many passengers
and not enough room for them. The airport is building a new terminal
while renovating old ones. But Terminal One is even more of a madhouse
during renovation. Lifts (elevators) are out of order. Signs are
either lacking or confusing the passengers. Baggage carts are competing
with humans for elbow room. All this will make Managing Director
Cato's stint as customer service duty manager especially challenging.
It's his job to keep customers happy, help them solve problems,
and keep the airport safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Tony Bryant, a working-class, no-nonsense kind of guy, is one of
Heathrow's 54 customer service duty managers. He'll show Cato the
ropes during the top man's first day on the floor. His expectations?
A bit low, actually. "Office people don't really know how operations
go on," Bryant says. "They can, they say and hear how
it goes on, but I think they actually need to come down here and
see. You're in a confined space, you've got limited access, limited
staff to do the job, so I think he needs to see it."
Cato gets his first hands-on experience when a female passenger
with a baggage cart she can't take up the escalator is upset. The
elevator is broken and she can't get her baggage upstairs. She complains
to duty manager Cato. The boss is inefficient and can't find a working
elevator. He deftly falls back on the "excuse our appearance"
signs explaining the remodeling construction. But he still must
carry the woman's baggage up the escalator by hand.
Next: Airport Signs (Mis)Direct Passengers