For all the money airlines spend on promoting customer service and other differences, there is no avoiding the leveling and often stressful experience at the security entrance to the departure gates. The experience is different in every airport. My experience is that the further from a major city the more human the experience. Townsville and Cairns have been fantastic.

This is on my mind tonight because of an experience in Sydney late today. I went through the metal detector and the alarm went off. The guard said it was my shoes. I questioned him because they have not gone off in at least twenty previous entrances to airports including Sydney. But you don’t argue with these guards – I have seen how they treated a lady with a prosthetic leg!

Back out I had to remove my shoes and wait almost five minutes to get through to my overnight bag, briefcase and Sony Vaio laptop. Thankfully the laptop did not fall off the conveyor belt as it did in Melbourne when left for so long last year. Stuff after mine did along with several mobile phones, coins and a wallet. Three guards were talking about their meal break arrangements – a conversation they could not interrupt to fix the problem.

The experience at security does nothing to boost my confidence in the security of flights. The service levels are inconsistent, the care for items which are x-rayed while you take your shoes off and put them on and that items which pass many times can fail all combine to make me suspicious that this is more about show than substance.

I would have thought that the airlines would want to have more control over the customer experience and that they would try and influence how their customers are treated at the security gate.

I’m how now and I guess I should be glad for safe travel. I am. I also enjoy good customer service. What happens at these security gates could be improved, if customer service was a KPI of those responsible for the security.