Travelling Timmy

That I’ve not shot my mouth about some idiocy so far today worries some. This post being brought to you by the hotspot at Munich airport.

About which. There used to be free coffee machines courtesy of Lufthansa in this terminal. They’ve been replaced by paying ones. Fair enough, all airlines have it tough these days.

They put in the same number of paid machines as there used to be free…..not quite as economic as one might think.

And what worries me is my reaction. Not, bugger, no free hot chocolate. But, bugger, didn’t they think of that?

Is it possible that I am becoming (or have become) a monomaniac?

36 thoughts on “Travelling Timmy”

  1. What worries me is that you had all this time to contemplate the coffee machines and never considered that there may be another factor off-setting the drop in demand, like how often the maintenance techs have to come round and refill the machines.

    That would be, of course, an example of indirect substitution of capital for labour.

  2. Nah, economics is one of those things where once you learn it, you start to see it everywhere. It’ll wear off after a while.

  3. And they’re abolishing the newspapers and magazines next year as well. Which they get for free.

    Mind you, the pilots and attendants have been trying to abolish Lufthansa for years, and I think they might have finally succeeded.

  4. I don’t know if this has changed, but I remember being in the Lufthansa business lounge in Frankfurt airport and finding I had to pay for an hour’s T-Mobil subscription to access the wi-fi, which I thought was fucking pathetic. Obviously it’s a stitch-up between two German national champions, but it made them look like a third-world kleptocracy.

  5. Wifi in the LH lounges at Frankfurt is complementary for as long as you want it. Outside you can get an hour (I think) free in exchange for your phone number.

  6. Tim Newman,

    Lots of the people in that lounge aren’t billing expenses to the company. They and the bureaucrats signing off expenses don’t care.

    A few years ago before wifi became ubiquitous in hotels, the first places to do it free were upmarket B&Bs, not Hiltons and Marriots. Basically, the sort of places that people paying their own bills stay in.

  7. Wifi in the LH lounges at Frankfurt is complementary for as long as you want it.

    That wasn’t the case when I went through there a few years back. I did wonder if it was a one-off, or they’d changed it. But it was definitely the case.

  8. That is a bummer. Hotchoc’s about the only thing worth drinking out of vending machines (particularly with a large brandy or rum added)

  9. Lots of the people in that lounge aren’t billing expenses to the company. They and the bureaucrats signing off expenses don’t care.

    My take was that Germans will all have T-Mobil accounts anyway and can login for free, so only foreigners will have to pay. And who gives a fuck about them?

    A few years ago before wifi became ubiquitous in hotels, the first places to do it free were upmarket B&Bs, not Hiltons and Marriots. Basically, the sort of places that people paying their own bills stay in.

    Absolutely. I once stayed at the Pullman in Cologne, paying about 200 Euro per night but using loyalty points from Accor instead of cash. The wi-fi system there was also one where you pay 20 Euro per day to sign up for T-Mobil.

  10. I tried to use the WiFi in an airport lounge and kept being taken to a screen which just endlessly repeated the phrases “You are great, You are looking good today, Fantastic to see you here at our airport”.

    Frustrated I tried to get myself a coffee at the free-vend coffee machine, only when I pressed the button a little electronic voice told me to “fuck off, fuck off, fuck off”.

    Confused by all this I went to customer information and told them what had happened.

    The man at the counter explained……….the WiFi was complimentary but the coffee machine was out of order.

  11. Being a sucker for punishment, I run professional conferences in my spare time. The wifi thing used to be a constant headache, less so nowadays.

    Hotels (particularly the upmarket ones with facilities to do big conferences) were locked into outdated contracts with providers – the world moved on from wifi being a luxury to a necessity, but pricing from several years previously did not change. So the telcos were raking it in with 10x the demand they’d expected and all hotel managers were acutely embarrassed about charging extra to people paying €200 upwards a night. But there was nothing they could do about it.

    A “complementary” access would set them back about €8, which, even in a €200 hotel, is not something you can just stick on the room rate without losing customers. Often we could not even get comp for people staying at the hotel, let alone delegates staying at other hotels and only on-site for the meeting.

    I guess LH had the same issue. They bill lounge access at roughly €25 against real business class tickets, but most of the guests are flying economy and get in with frequent flyer status, at a much lower charge to the programme. The actual marginal cost per guest is very low, and €8 on top would have therefore put more than a huge dent in the margin. I guess they are paying closer to €1 per head for wifi now so don’t need to pass through the cost.

    The coffee at the gate is a different story – they’ve finally worked out that the profitable frequent flyers don’t need it (because they get better coffee in the lounge), and the unwashed subsidised masses (that they need to fill the empty seats) will go to such extreme lengths to save €1.49 on the cost of the ticket, that they have to cut the basic service to the marrow and charge for everything they can.

  12. “I know you like music and sex, too.”

    Not everyone would call what Tim likes “music”.

    As for sex, everyone lies.

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It’s interesting to see who does free WiFi vs. those who don’t. Last trip to the UK, both Toronto and Houston were free and unlimited once you’d navigated the walled garden, but Heathrow was free for a few hours and then paid (I wasn’t there long enough for this to be an issue). Here in CR, the local megamall doesn’t have free WiFi but every little hole-in-the-wall restaurant does. It’s amazingly short-sighted. Even putting the directory of shops on a site at the entrance to a walled garden and using the phone’s GPS to show where you are on a map would be simple, and it would pay for itself. It’s not a bandwidth issue either; I get 250 Mbps for about 75 bucks a month. Charge the shops 50¢ a week and you’d be quids in.

  14. But there was nothing they could do about it.

    A “complementary” access would set them back about €8

    Hang on. The hotel won’t be charged per user, they would be paying a monthly charge to the service provider. So complementary access wouldn’t set them back anything, but they would forgo the revenue if the customer would cough up regardless – which is a big “if”.

  15. @Tim,

    Actually a lot of them did pay per user. They wanted the telcos to run the entire setup, installation and all, and not to have to worry about it themselves. You had to pay at sign-in or use a voucher from the front desk – they were not (back in the day) handed out like candy as they are today.

    There really was a time when wifi was new and fangled. That’s much less the case today than 5 years ago.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    TimN,

    As BiG says, in the early days it was per user. That was a hangover from dial up and then cabling when there was a high cost per user, even once installed. Also the bandwidth was quite expensive, about 10 years ago I was paying £100 per Mbit per month for a Tier 1 Internet connection. And those are calculated on peak usage, IIRC it was acreage of the busiest hour and we reckoned on about 10kbit per user on average in the busiest hour. Admittedly as a startup that didn’t want a long contract we didn’t get a good deal.

    I think at had dropped to £75 by the time I left in 2010 and is provable a lot less now.

  17. > Heathrow was free for a few hours and then paid

    Yes, which is insane. Given that no-one is going pay for a plane ticket which they don’t use just so they can go hang out an airport for hours for the wifi, the only people who are going to be there long enough for the charges to kick in are the people whose flights have been fucked up and whom you therefore are going to have to pay compensation and give freebies to anyway. They’re also the most likely to start complaining, which uses up your customer service staff’s time: surely better to keep them entertained.

    I hate airports.

  18. > Heathrow was free for a few hours and then paid

    Perhaps it’s so that staff don’t chew up all the bandwidth watching Youtube in the break room?

  19. Squander Two>

    What, because no-one works in an airport? Or has a long time between flights? Or is a planespotter, uploading gigabytes of photos? Or, given that it’s Heathrow we’re talking about, lives nearby and drops in to use the internet without buying a plane ticket?

  20. I usually have a look at the site here and then go the Forbes site to see whats happening there. And what is happening there? It’s gone from bad to worse, its taking ages to do anything at all, you are presented with some sort of page you can hardly see due to the heavy dark grey mask all over it. I goes eventually but it’s worse than waiting for the countdown and silly comment from someone you’ve never heard of.

  21. ‘Given its Heathrow …drops in to use the Internet.’

    That would surely count as one of the most lunatic uses of time/money available to man/woman? Or am I missing the sarcasm?

  22. Incidentally, while driving today I heard Andrew Wilkow on Sirius XM spend quite some time quoting chunks from Tim’s Forbes piece on the Venezuelan toy confiscation fiasco.

    Just thought I’d mention it.

  23. That would surely count as one of the most lunatic uses of time/money available to man/woman? Or am I missing the sarcasm?

    No, it’s Dave. You’ll get used to him.

  24. Daedalus,

    The Opera browser with Ublock in a VM, as I don’t fully trust UBlock, is working fine for me. So far I haven’t found any issues with UBlock letting malware through so the VM might not be necessary.

    Please don’t overshare this information, ie put it on FB. As long as this workaround isn’t costing off large chunks of ad revenue no one with spend the money to cut it will continue to work.

    Dammit Tim, you’re right. I’m thinking about more things in economic terms as well. I also now have the ability to explain it as well. I think it’s time to spring for a blog and try the freelance route. I guess I have to start proof-reading my work.

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