So I’m sure a lot of you might remember the debacle at Heathrow Airport – Crying over spilt milk? To say I was angry was an understatement, sure. But there’s an experience and then all that comes after it. I wrote about it here, and then followed up on the responses here, here and here. And I give Heathrow a lot of credit for taking the time to address my complaint, to issue an apology, and to do a fair amount of correspondence to get the details right, and to actually change the original website language to be more transparent of what limitations actually are. And then they answered (based on all of input and support I got from you and your letters) each one of the complaints they received from fellow readers. But to their even greater credit, they didn’t stop there.
Yesterday the airport let me know that they hosted a roundtable for “mummy bloggers” and picked some of the most influential mummy ladies and their little ones for a behind the scenes visit at the airport (including a tour of the inside of an Airbus A380 – gah! jealous! diplo-husband will be even more jealous when he hears about this). Then they sat down for a discussion of what can make the airport an easier experience when traveling with children and chatted through the issues – you can see the highlights in the video below (and check 1’20 or so for my shout out!). In watching the video, you’ll note that the mummies are pretty forward in their requests – things like video games in the departure lounges. I have to confess that the business traveler in me goes weak in the knees at that thought, but I bet if I were hypothetically a mom of two school-aged boys between long legs of flights I would welcome it with open arms. But whatever, that’s not even the point – since from my understanding this was a brainstorming discussion where the mummies put forth their opinions and ideas based on their own experience, and the airport took the time to listen and get the perspectives of a group of travelers that sometimes have unique needs.
I don’t know how much they’ll implement but they seem to have some interest. I actually strangely haven’t been back at Heathrow since April but I’m headed back next month so I can report back. However, friends on the UK ground said that they have indeed seen some visible changes at security in the airport, like the family and children’s lanes, friendlier pictures, and animal tracks for the kids (and certain adults, ahem) to follow.
I don’t necessarily agree with all the mummies asked for, but some things are also really good ideas – but it’s okay to get lots of different perspectives. People with infants will have different needs than people with older children, and multiple children, and working mothers who happen to be traveling without their children. That’s the point of a roundtable, to get different opinions out there. And to Heathrow’s credit, they made some effort here, and then got the word out – I may not have been crazy about that one particular experience there, but I think their response deserves a kudos.