In the future 2017 could well be defined as the year of ‘Fake News’. Throughout the year battling media outlets often presented contradicting information that has made it hard for the public to discern what is truth and what is fiction. The American election, and the ensuing media reporting, is a prime example of the conflicting viewpoints seen throughout the year. One look at President Trump’s Twitter feed gives any reader cause to believe that media coverage is a complete hoax, but Government investigations into claims of Russia’s involvement in the campaign seems to oppose this. Is this too political? Sorry, let’s bring it back what we know.

Even in the travel world there are opposing views about whether 2017 was a success or failure, with some outlets reporting travel is at its worst ever, while others claim air travel is the best it’s ever been. For example, in the article, ‘It’s Not Just You- Air Travel Really Has Gotten Worse’, Tim Winship claims that customer dissatisfaction is at an all-time high. He states, ‘A majority (51 percent) of survey respondents reported that air travel has become more of a hassle in the past five years; only 9 percent felt the travel experience had improved.’ Some of the reasons attributed to this negativity are security screenings, delays or cancellations and a reduction in onboard comfort. According to the report, it has had a clear effect on the travel industry as, ‘Americans avoided 32 million airline trips during the past year, resulting in $24 billion in foregone spending.’ All of this gives us reason to believe 2017 was a complete bust for airlines.

However, Simon Calder’s report in the Independent claims that 2017 was a landmark year for travel. His article, titled, ‘Airline Safety: 2017 was safest year in history for passengers around world’, informs us that mass-passenger plane travel was the safest it has been in recorded history. This is according to To70, an aviation consultancy firm from The Netherlands, who reported there were ‘only two fatal accidents, both involving small turbo-prop aircraft, with a total of 13 lives lost’ and that ‘no passenger-carrying jets crashed in the entirety of 2017.’ This is an astonishing statistic and Adrian Young, lead researcher at To70, calculated that the probability of a plane ‘being involved in a fatal accident is now one in 16 million.’ Contrary to Winship’s claims, this report suggests that airline travel is improving compared to preceding years. So, what has 2017 been? Failing? Record-breaking? Confusing? Apparently, it’s all three.

One of the duties our Angles have is to inform travelers of airline rules. We assist with departures and check-ins, which often means we must ask passengers to remove items from hand-luggage. Young believes this will be continue in 2018, mainly due to electronics: ‘The increasing use of lithium-ion batteries in electronics creates a fire risk on board aeroplanes as such batteries are difficult to extinguish if they catch fire.’ This could be one reason why airport safety checks are so intense and frustrating, but conversely may have led to air travel being the safest mode of transport this year. There has been good and bad in 2017, but who can be believed?

In the confusion of Fake News and contradictory media reports, one thing that cannot be contested is that Airport Angels has had its best year since starting in 2012. During this year we expanded our services, increasing the number of schools who hired us and gaining new VIP customers. Our biggest achievements were securing contracts for EF at Heathrow, Bell Language School and Oxford Study courses. Due to the new business, we needed more staff to help chaperone and assist all the students arriving in the UK. This meant our team of Angels grew to 30-plus during the summer. A record number of employees that matched our expansion in the airport. We started operations at more UK locations this year; the number of meets in Manchester Airport and Bristol Airport increased from previous years and our services expanded to airports in Edinburgh and Dublin. Our biggest achievement of the year was our summer student services which doubled in size from two years ago. In the summer of 2017 Airport Angels staff chaperoned an estimated 45,000 children through UK airports. It was a busy year- but we aren’t stopping now!

Our New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is simple. We aim to maintain the current standard of service we provide and plan to implement new operations as the year develops. As you are reading this we are updating our website to more clearly display our range of services, which include student, individual and premium meets. Our online booking system is getting a revamp and, using World Pay Account, means you will be able to pay using credit and debit cards through our website. All these changes will be up-and-running soon and our increased presence on social media, another of our New Year’s promises, will keep you up-to-date with everything happening from our offices. We will be sharing our plans with you as and when they are confirmed, because we believe you should be privy to what we do as a company. Our customers and clients are what make Airport Angles run, and we want to share with you. As the recording artist Drake once said, “we started from the bottom, now we here”. We aren’t at the top yet but with the continuing support of the airlines, our staff, and our clients, we aim to get there. Our service only succeeds because of the people who use it and we are grateful for every opportunity 2017 has offered us. We want to say thank you to everyone who has worked with us during the year, we hope to continue our professional relationships and develop new partnerships. Here’s to a great year. Happy 2018.