With the kind of fanfare you would expect at the launch of something worthwhile, Bucharest’s Otopeni Airport last week launched a smartphone app which – we can confirm – is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Take a look at this, the app’s English webpage (it’s worth a look for the comical English). Here’s a taster:
Do you think airport experience and relaxation are not to be used in the same sentence? We just did! Download Henri AppPort, the mobile app of Henri Coanda International Airport and airport time will be as pleasing as the rest of your trip!
So, what does this wonder of the modern age actually do? Well, not a lot. It shows a mirror of the departures board, has a map of the airport and offers some discounts at what are the most expensive cafes and shops in Bucharest and which any right-minded traveller avoids like the plague. It has a few other bells and whistles but that is pretty much it. What it does not do is ‘make your life easier’, as this wonderful review would have us believe.
Let’s be honest: if you need a smartphone app to help you find the right check-in desk or departure gate in a little airport like Otopeni (indeed, in any airport) then you probably shouldn’t be flying anyway. You probably shouldn’t even be in charge of a smartphone.
There are ways, of course, an airport smartphone app could be genuinely useful: it could automatically connect to the airport’s Wifi network – for free – for a limited period (an hour is more than enough), and could allow arriving passengers to order cheap taxis or buy bus tickets direct from within the app. Otopeni’s app does none of these things. It also forces you sign up before you can use it – either with an email address or a Facebook account.
Even worse is some of the information it does offer. For a start, besides telling arriving passengers about the touch screens where you can order taxis into town, it also points people in the direction of the ‘Fast Taxi’ sharks charging 3.50 lei per kilometre (if you’re lucky) who lurk downstairs.