Yesterday I returned from a week long business trip to Hong Kong and mainland China – three different airlines flown and meetings with three different airlines. The headline of this post is really just an excuse to use this photo of a huge key from Beijing’s Forbidden City, but as it was my first time in China, I walked away with a much better understanding of some of the opportunities, but also the challenges in this region insofar as it pertains to IT for the airline industry.
Getting to Hong Kong was a less than pleasant flight. I was sitting near the very front of the lower deck of a 747, but I can’t name the airline as they are getting close to buying something I have been working on with them for close to a year. I’m sitting in seat 4A on the tarmac and drips of water are coming down from the air conditioning vent above my head. Maybe only one drip every 2 minutes, but very, very annoying. I mention this fact to the flight attendant but she just wipes the vent with a rag assuming this will stop the problem – it didn’t. Another vent was even dropping a tiny fragment of ice onto my head about once every 5 minutes! The guy in front of me put a cap on his head, and it looked like even seat 2A was affected. Luckily once the plane got in the air the dripping stopped, but then as we got close to landing in HKG it started again. But the worst part was the vent where the ice had dripped prior to take off. At this point in the journey a horrible noise that sounded like a bucket of ice being shaken around commences above me. For the next 10-15 minutes until I got off the plane, I was sitting there fearing a bucketload of ice was about to be dropped on my head – fortunately that never happened, but it is a flight I won’t forget in a hurry.
Fortunately the subsequent flights were both much better experiences. Dragonair really had a quality product and great service, and the seat on the Air France 777 coming home was the best business class seat I’ve experienced in a long time. And for a good recent story about one big new opportunity in the Chinese market, take a look at this story on the opening up of flights between China and Taiwan.