No relief, just grief
The new lift ticket/pass-scanning system at the bottom of Aspen Highlands is causing more grief than relief for both customers and executives at the Aspen Skiing Co.
Neither Mike Kaplan, a senior VP, nor Ron Chauner, Highlands mountain manager, felt much like talking about the system when contacted by On the Hill. So they passed the job off to Jeff Hanle, the company’s front-line spokesman.
The new system requires customers to scan their own ticket by inserting it in a slot. When the computer says the ticket or pass is good, the customer pushes through a turnstile and boards the chairlift.
The scanning system, which has had some success in Europe, is meant to be a labor-saving device, Hanle said. But now the targeted lift ops who used to scan passes spend their days explaining the new system to confused customers.
Last Saturday, things got ugly at Highlands, as hundreds of anxious snowboarders and skiers sought access to the Exhibition lift and nearly 3 feet of powder on top of the mountain.
According to one member of the Times editorial staff, seats on the chairlift were going unfilled as late as 10 a.m. because people couldn’t get through the scanner fast enough.
Hanle admitted the new system isn’t working quite as well as anticipated. But he pointed out that the backup is essentially the same; it’s just a little less orderly because there’s no maze for people to go through.
Besides, most skiers, bound for the Loge Peak lift, ran into a good old-fashioned lift line as soon as they unloaded from Exhibition.
Hanle, who admitted that there have been complaints, said the Skico is working with the manufacturer to improve the new system.
But that’s probably too little too late for longtime locals like Glenn Horn who missed out on some early turns in some of the best powder ever. After running into the pandemonium at Exhibition, Horn, for instance, opted for the Thunderbowl lift.
“I was looking for innovative ways to skip the line. The smart thing would have been to get on a bus and go to Aspen Mountain,” he said.
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