Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Laura's Triumphant US Return

Laura said "Tot ziens!" to the Netherlands this morning as she boarded a plane at Schipol Airport for the very last time, this time US-bound. She'll land in a country decidedly different than the one we left; after all, there's a new president, a ruined economy, a news media that has become strangely obsessed with the goings-on in Alaska (of all places), and an 1800% increase in airplay of Michael Jackson.

It's summer holiday time here in The Netherlands, so the airport - particularly the gates associated with the Dutch airline, KLM - was absolutely packed with happy travelers ready for rest and relaxation. Unlike most European airlines, KLM relies on self check-in kiosks, which would be efficient - if we weren't in Europe.

After all, asking Europeans to use self check-in kiosks is like herding cats through a yarn store. To see something so simple blow the minds of otherwise seemingly functional adults - many with seemingly functional children in tow - was an entertaining if not bizarre site indeed. It was as if KLM had dropped them on the surface of Mars and asked them to find the location of the Phoenix lander using a map of Vancouver - while blindfolded.

Consider this brief conversation, which I swear I have not made up:

Cheery KLM attendant: "Do you already know how to use the self check-in?"
Us: "Uh...Yeah."
KLM attendant: [Suddenly less cheery but noticeably relieved] "Oh, thank GOD!"
Us: [Stunned look.]
KLM attendant: "It's as if everyone has left for vacation without their brains!"

I'm still surprised she didn't hug us.*

*In defense of my European brethren, I can say that the KLM check-in machines required a stunning amount of information to find a reservation: name, confirmation #, e-ticket #, passport #, airport route, number of bags, seat location, shoe size, political affiliation, bench press max, and favorite Michael Jackson song. (I felt that the last one was an invasion of privacy.)

1 comment:

Caroline R. said...

I am laughing out loud at this post! Welcome back!