Spending several hours at assorted airports – reading statutory national security guidelines and browsing through out-of-date magazines – is certainly not good for mental stability. Long before deep vein thrombosis sets in, I will probably be in a padded cell somewhere with Jack Nicholson for company…
Some of the random thoughts I have...
Every airline brushes off delays with a callous ‘… due to late arrival of incoming aircraft’ as if it was not them and some other jerk operating that flight. Get real, guys – if your pilot was on strike (Indian), poached by other airlines (Deccan), too drunk to fly (Kingfisher) or still learning English (Spicejet) – then we have a right to know. Don’t bloody gloss over the details!
Nowadays, they make you take out all pocket stuff when you are manually frisked. Earlier it was just the cell phone, but now it has extended to all items remotely metallic (including metal bodied pens and chocolate wrappers with a foil base). So, what do they do with Bappi Lahiri? He has now graduated from wearing jewelry to wearing gold studded clothing. Do they realize Bappi Lahiri taking off his clothes in a public place means a bigger hazard than a mere bomb on a plane?
Air Deccan is hell-bent on attributing each one of their actions to cutting costs. It started with not allocating seats, which meant a sprint across the tarmac to avoid sitting in a non-reclining seat next to the toilet.
Now it is their request to passengers to not take away the life jacket from under the seats! Even to this perfectly legitimate request, they appended a squeaky cost rationale. “If you take away the jackets, then we will not be able to keep our fares low…”
It should have been “Bugger, that snazzy orange jacket was not brought from Palika Bazaar for a hundred bucks. It is a mandatory security requirement and anybody touching it will have their balls chopped off – low fare or not!”
On a related note, most of the low-cost airlines sing some sorry tune of cost-cutting. IndiGo requests the passengers to dump their garbage into the bag which the stewardess would bring around.
How much longer before standing passengers are allowed?
Indian’s congenital distrust for computers does not come across any clearer than at airports. If you have a ticket jacket printed on airline stationery, you are waved in. However, if you have an e-ticket, then ID proof is asked for. How does a ticket-jacket prove I am the person who the ticket claims me to be? And how does having an ID matching the name on a ticket preclude threats to national security. It is very unlikely that the next hijacker will travel by the name of O.B. Laden.
The placards with which people wait outside the airport make for interesting reading. The latest I remember was – COLD MAZUMDAR. Bongs do have a penchant for unusual names but this one took the bakery, I thought. He probably has a twin brother who is HOT! But when I came closer, two full stops indicated it was Col. D. Mazumdar who was being expected!
Bhudev Bhutalia was another one I remember… wonder how they teased him in college?
If you are a Sudoku buff, then the most irritating thing on a flight is clearly the half-done puzzle in the in-flight newspaper. Some idiot before you would have started to solve and given up mid-way leaving the area in a mess of crossed out numbers and doodles. So you are left with the task of asking for another Hindustan Times while holding a copy of the HT in your hand.
Jet stewardesses give you the ‘oh-you-poor-dyslexic-dear’ look while Indian head mistresses give you the ‘be-eccentric-in-your-own-home’ stare – both of which are equally distressing!
Indians (countrymen, not the airline) always ask. Even the most obvious questions (“Bhai-saab, yeh gaadi Kanpur jaa rahi hain na?”) – if not for the sake of confirmation, but for the comfort that one more bloke is making the same mistake as oneself!
So, you will have uncles and aunties always asking, “Is this Seat 13C?” before settling down in the seat which has been numbered in Arial font 24, Bold, Lit Up right at their eye level!
My excuse is that at a very early age, I was subjected to the story of how an uncle got into the wrong flight and only realized when the announcements were being made during the taxiing of the aircraft. If the flight number and destination are not written anywhere, I politely ask the gent who collects the boarding pass stubs… “This is for Lucknow, right?” Just in case…
Most international airlines have three classes – Economy, Business and First. In India, Economy is translated in Hindi as ‘Sadharan’, which actually means ‘General’. It should ideally be ‘Kifaayati’ – just to make us plebeians feel good that we are saving our companies lots of money by seating 3x3 and eating jeera-rice-and-crow-curry!
Kingfisher claimed for a while that they don’t need a First Class because their normal service is better than the business class of other airlines. But then, the lure of the CEO fare was too high and they started Kingfisher First, which promises to be extremely decadent. A friend – after seeing the figures of their stewardesses and the length of their skirts – has remarked the Kingfisher should rename their classes to ‘Family’ and ‘Adult’! The stewardesses in the ‘Adult’ class will wear bikinis… Mr Mallya, are you listening?
Travel from a small town to Delhi almost always means a celebrity co-passenger. My experiences include the following: Laloo Prasad Yadav (from Patna), Mohammed Kaif and the UP Ranji team, Amar Singh, Akhilesh Yadav (all from Lucknow) and Pranab Mukherjee (Calcutta).
In one tremendously lucky break, I had sat right behind Katrina Kaif on a flight to Bombay and even kicked her seat in excitement! She complained in a too-cute-to-be-true voice and I repeatedly assured her it would not happen again so she should not report me to Sallu!
Ahh... my flight has been announced.