Long Beach Airport is tiny, has oddly artistic lines and is blessed with palm trees set against a blue sky. The airport’s single terminal ends almost before it begins. Baggage claim is a short stretch of conveyor, outside of the airport, under an awning, across from an ice cream stand on the sidewalk. Although not often said about airports, it is charming. A plaque on the outside explains its historic importance, built in 1923 and home to some of the earliest efforts at manned flight. As if I needed reminding that my holiday was ending and it was time to get back to kaizen, there was a suggestion box placed directly across from where we sat waiting for our aircraft to carry us back to the mossy roofs of Seattle.
The forms above the box requested “HELP US BETTER SERVE YOU” and asked a series of 9 questions such as “Were you able to locate the following Airport facilities with relative ease?” and “Did you find our directional signage to be adequate?” as well as ratings on the facilities and overall experience. It was refreshing to have the managers of a public facility ask about the adequacy of directional signage. They care about visual management. In fact, if you look carefully at the photo you will even see a blue arrow in the background, on the door. If you follow the signs to the wash rooms, you will encounter this door which is not the wash room door, therefore the use of directional signage. It could be coincidence, but this suggestion box appears to serve a purpose!
Another example of the performance improvement mindset at this public facility may be the sign on the entrance to the security check area (in a building adjacent to the terminal, it being too small to accommodate such a thing). Unfortunately I walked by it with too many bags in hand and too eager to start the ritual of shoe removal, the filling of trays with electronics, the disposal of forgotten beverages in bags, etc. to take proper note of it. On this small sign was something like “Highlights from TSA’s work today” and it listed four bullet points, all referring to examples of people the TSA employees caught trying to go through security with prohibited items. The most memorable was “two cases of individuals with artfully concealed weapons”. Some of us may become impatient with the security lines, but these performance indicators are a useful reminder that they serve a purpose. The TSA should adopt these reminders as standard visual controls for all ports.
We filled out a survey / suggestion form while we waited, and dropped it in the box. My suggestion to improve Long Beach Airport was “please visually display the number of suggestions received and the number implemented.” I don’t know when my next visit to Long Beach Airport will be. If you pass through and see that my suggestion was implemented, let me know!