Passengers behaving badly – a ‘Flightmare’

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Oh, please excuse me while I go on a rant here!

Air travel was like being in a five star hotel some decades back. Flying used to be a treat in itself. Passengers would dress up; skirts and heels for women, coat and often a tie for gentlemen.

Good hot meals along with beverages were usually included across all classes of travel and the service was impeccable and served with a cloth napkin and real silverware—spoon, fork and yes, a sharpened knife.

‘Air hostesses’ -the young women with big smiles and bright uniforms greeted every passenger graciously and courteously.

I am talking about the 70’s and 80’s here, when flight travel was not so common, but exciting and very special for flyers.

And the best part, travellers behaved!!

Today, air travel is the most popular method for traveling. And as more and more people take to the not-so-friendly skies, what with the fares being as competitive, stories of rude, disgusting and selfish behavior of many a ‘first time air traveller’ abound.

And as for a dress code, its non-existent; with many passengers dressing as if they are headed to the beach or about to go back to sleep in their dirty sloppy PJ’s no less. They get on planes and decide to behave in ways that drive you beyond your limits of tolerance.

Err, excuse me but the airplane is not an extension of your home. You are travelling  with 200 strangers. When the captain says “Relax and enjoy the flight,” this does not give you the permission to start behaving like you own the airline and start treating staff with utmost disrespect.

From changing their baby’s diapers on the dinner trays — leaving the soiled ones in drink cups for the cabin crew to take away, from  either cramming their cabin baggage in the overhead bins or stashing it away under your seat, from reclining their seat almost into your face, from refusing to turn off the smart phone, from kicking the seat in front, from playing loud music in cabin, from smoking in lav, from inappropriately touching the cabin crew to sticking their bare feet on your armrest from the seat behind you and of course how can you forget ‘mommy’s darling’ who runs across the aisle causing pandemonium across the plane.

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And don’t even get me started about the passenger seated in the middle seat. A lot of passengers rate the battle for the armrest as one of their very greatest peeves. The battle for arm rest superiority has long plagued travellers, with awkward social etiquette and downright confrontation. If the window seat gets the far armrest, and the aisle gets their own, what’s the story with the middle? Well last I heard that Jetstar, in a press release announced that the middle seat is entitled to both armrests – and that’s final.

Well if you are seated on either corners, I pray you are not literally on a flight to hell.

Badly behaved passengers are obnoxiously present world over and in general gross behaviour is unfortunately, becoming the norm.

But what, though, can you do about it? Yes, you can complain to a crew, who may be reluctant or even powerless to stop certain passenger behaviors, however, you try and politely just bear it without even grinning.

But seriously, Why are passengers behaving badly? 

Are we becoming a nation of rude narcissists? Basic, decent behavior has been lost with day-to-day living in a bubble where you feel like YOU are the most important person on this planet. The sense of entitlement and privilege is exemplified by the thought: “I want to do what I want, when I want…. and I will!”

And to make matters worse this bad behavior is contagious. The ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’ mindset continues to flourish and our “It’s all about me” society continues to rumble out of control.

Don’t you think it’s time that Airlines need to have a ‘dress code’ so passengers will know ahead of time what will fly and what won’t. And maybe include a ‘behaviour code’ as well in their contract of carriage and acceptance of passengers.

However as a fellow passenger there are certain things you can do and follow these common sense guidelines:

When the meal service is on, with trolley carts in the aisles, its best to avoid making trips to lavatories unless absolutely important. This helps both, the crew and other passengers too.

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Tension between cabin crew and passengers often arises from the strict safety directives on board. Though passengers may find them restrictive, crew members must ensure that safety rules are abided by. After all, cabin crew are on board primarily for passengers safety along with the service ,but it has been taken for granted by lot of passengers thinking that cabin crew are mainly at their beck and call.

  • If you have an unruly passenger near you, try to calm him/her down, but don’t waste your time on this if the individual is out of control – simply proceed to the next step, which is press the call button and let the trained cabin crew take over the situation. Some carriers have Air Marshalls on board who are trained to handle aggressive passengers.
  • Do not panic in case of turbulence. Stay calmIf you start panicking, it’ll just add to the chaos and might complicate the situation further. But yes, easier said than done.
  • Leave it to the professionally trained cabin crew. Stay in your seat – but if you’re blocking a cabin crew’s access, get out of the way. Try to find an empty seat and use it.
  • Be helpful if asked. Don’t intervene unless the crew requests help. If you’re the least bit unsure if you can render assistance, let someone else do it.
  • And finally brace yourself for delays. If the captain decides to divert the flight to drop off the passenger to law enforcement authorities, there’s nothing you can do about it but resign yourself to a delay.
  • Well, travelling in groups is fun but air travel seems to be a challenging one for people travelling in group. Most of the passengers in group wants to stand in the aisle chatting with their friends causing hindrance to cabin crew tasks and won’t even occupy their original assigned seat. Cabin crew needs to be firm with them to ensure safety is not compromised during any phase of the flight keeping in mind nobody’s sentiments are hurt.

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Are we really living in this world of arrogant and egoistic passengers where basic etiquette are forgotten by some of our esteemed passengers? You may have read about the case of an Irish passenger who spat on an AI crew for not serving more alcohol, in Business class, last November and was arrested on landing. Well, she was finally convicted of assault by a British court, early March.

Many countries ‘blacklist’ unruly passengers from flying. Our Ministry of Civil Aviation has recently come out with guidelines for such passengers on Indian domestic flights. Unfortunately not a single passenger has made it to that list. What a shame!

Travel safe, travel sane.

Madhavi

PC: DenverPost:Pinterest;Kelly Kincaid

Going SOLO

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Everyone remembers their first solo journey. For some women it was a long time ago, and there have been many more trips since. For others, the memory is still quite fresh.  I know mine is. It was the year 2009. Taking the leap of faith I plunged into a 2 night trip. Things had come to a head on the personal front and I wanted to break out of the rut of work and home and head out to the safest place I knew . Goa!

I know. I know. Who in their right mind takes off to Goa alone? But that’s me. Never following the herd, I have made my own rules.

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Coming back to the solo trip, it’s true almost everyone has some anxiety before setting out. But there is not a single woman out there who has regretted doing so.

Solo travelling is becoming more important and more popular for women today .It’s an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

Although I have to say that the Indian woman is still a little conservative when compared to her western counterpart.  India is an old school country, and where women’s safety is often a massive concern. Many women aren’t allowed to or are afraid to be travelling alone. However, things are changing. More and more strong, independent women are choosing to travel alone and do not let the patriarchy hold them down. Right from backpacking across India to hitch-hiking in another country altogether, these women are inspiring others to give up their fears and have major travel goals.

However there are a few Travel Tips I would recommend for Women Travelling Alone.

  1. Do Your Research! Choose your destination with Intent.

Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. I cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is. User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay (hotel/hostel/Airbnb) but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or a comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.

For example Scandinavia, Ireland and New Zealand,Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few countries/cities that are safe for women travellers.

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  1. Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts.

Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Regularly call a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!

  1. Be Smart with Your Smartphone.

We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. So be smart and download the apps on your Smartphone before you take off. From navigation to interacting with locals who have shared interests it’s essential for every woman traveller. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Toilet finder etc are smart applications that will keep you covered.

Additionally do invest in your phones data plan before you leave so that you can use the data for your maps/Uber etc, without it pinching your pocket on buying a local sim card.

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  1. Make Copies of Important Documents. 

Make copies and additionally take pictures of your travel docs and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.

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  1. Don’t be a fool. 

You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including, not going down dark alleys on your own or talking to strangers, securing the locks on your purse or locking away your things are few things you need to keep in mind. Just be observant to the world and goings-on around you.

  1. Don’t flaunt your cash. 

If you’re travelling alone, be careful of where and how you keep your cash/credit card. Make sure your purse/bag has a hidden pocket for your wallet. Pack light. Protect your documents, cards and cash

  1. Don’t Trust People Too Quickly.

There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours. Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden or when it gets too dark and you are far away from your hotel. Trust your gut, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.

  1. Blend In.

 This seems quite obvious, just try and blend in as much as you can. Do not wear too revealing outfits and pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around with your camera around your neck and your nose pressed into a map.

 

The first step is taking the first step. Yes, it’s scary and I’ve found that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away, but if you don’t do it you’ll always regret it. The bigger question is what if I don’t do it? You will be amazed where your strength will come from.

It’s no doubt wonderful to travel with your bunch of friends or your family, but I feel travelling solo once in a while nourishes your soul. I have taken many a solo trips since that day in 2009 and believe me I just can’t get enough.

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Good luck with your life’s experiences!

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Personal; Getty Images