Making the first impression and a lasting impression- Island Like No Other

Posted on October 27, 2008



Making the first impression is important in a beginning of an encounter. Making a lasting impression is important especially at the end of an encounter.

Katunayake Airport is the place for both, especially with respect to the visitors who dares to visit the “Is-land like no other”.

I was at this Airport few weeks back on a short trip to Australia. Emmigration counter is the last transaction for a person leaving the country. I was waiting in one of the queues leading to such a counter to get the official seal on my departure.

There were five queues as there were five counters manned with officers. The queues were long and wait was also long. Suddenly one officer stood up and left the counter without no instructions to the people in the queue. After few minutes officer in one of the adjoining counters looked at the queue (that is now stranded) with a question in his face as to why the people in the queue do not move in to other queues. After realizing it will not happen voluntarily (to his suprise!) he asked the people in the queue to join other queues; both using body language and few words.

People in the (now stranded) queue were puzzled. Now they have to join at the extreme end of the other queue and start for the long wait again. I saw the frustration, disappointment and the simple rage on their faces.

I was at one of the counters when this happened. In fact officer attended to my passport was responsible for redirecting people. So I thought I should share my thoughts with the person.

I told him this kind of confusion could be avoided and people could be farely treated if you could have one single queue (in zig zag fashion) and the people in the single queue directed to the next available officer. If you arrange the queue in that fassion you can just leave the counter without frustrating the people and without asking them to go from one queue to the other.

The man who served me look at me from my head to the toe, with a question in his face (who the hell you are to intervene in to internal affairs of my office).

I told him most of the airports world around and even some of the banks in Sri Lanka adopt this zig zag single queue, for which another officer who happened to visit the counter agreed. I thought I have made my point and said thank you and left.

I returned to the country only to see the same fate at the Immigration counter on my way back home. Things have not changed.

I phoned a person known to me at Department of Immigration and Emmigration (at a top level) and he said it will be done soon, but did not say how soon (a step that does not require any expensive resource).

Have things changed at the airport or are we still making a very poor first impression and very gloomy lasting impression for those who visit us? I don’t know. Can somebody recently been at the Airport educate us on that?

This is our Airport (gateway to the world) in the “Is-land Like No Other”.

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