More than three years ago, the UK transport minister at the time, said that steps were being taken to ensure that there were enough charging points available for passengers at UK airports. The security protocol for US-bound flights, and then for flights to other destinations, required passengers to be able to switch their devices on for staff at the gate before boarding. While this policy is no longer in operation, being able to use electronic devices while travelling and having access to points for charging up depleting batteries, has become the expected standard.
Unfortunately, my recent experience at Gatwick showed that there is still some way to go in terms of providing a good customer experience for working and communicating on the go. As a regular traveller through Gatwick Airport I found myself recently up against a deadline and having missed the opportunity to catch an earlier flight. I have an easyJet plus card which is great and means you can move onto an earlier flight but sadly not until you’ve waited in a queue at a customer service desk at the airport (why on earth can’t we do this online easyJet?!) meaning you miss the deadline for changing to the earlier flight. Anyway this debacle meant I had a couple of hours at the airport to meet my deadline. I didn’t really want to pay through the nose for a short stay in a fancy lounge, I just needed a quiet spot with some power to give my laptop a boost and get some work done. Imagine my delight when I found just that spot, a nice quiet zone in a far corner of Gatwick’s north terminal. That delight quickly turned to annoyance when it turned out to have no accessible power points next to any seating, never mind a table.
Funnily enough there are tables at the gate, with power points but anyone who travels frequently with easyJet will know the journey from lounge to gate to boarding is a quick one – and anyway, surely the airport wants us spending time in the lounge, spending money to make our stay more comfortable?
Trying to balance time available with comfort (i.e. I didn’t want to sit on the floor!) I took a tour of the north terminal departure lounge and frankly found it wanting. No power points upstairs – missing a trick here Starbucks, Eat, etc – I’d have bought a coffee and some snacks to go with my power, but no joy. Back downstairs and despite the promise of some over in the distance by WH Smith, it became clear that this window ledge was it...
And, even more annoying, on my way to the gate, this is what I saw…
Why can’t Gatwick put charging points in the departure lounge, where people have to spend most of their time, as well at at the gate? And why not at the various cafes? I travel regularly through many of the UK airports and can think of many others where power points and tables to sit at are in abundance – Luton Airport, we salute you. Maybe we need a league table.