I think flights are among the times when my mind is most ripe with ideas. Just watching people and their interactions gives you so much fodder for giggles, exasperation, life's lessons, joys and of course gyan. Across multiple trips in India and abroad, I've noticed Indians in particular displaying certain behavioural quirks. Here are my observations.
1. They board as if their rear is on fire
Let me recount a recent experience to illustrate my point. Generally, for domestic flights they don't really board by rows but this time the lady announced that only those in the last 10 rows should board. Not belonging to those rows I sat and waited.
Are we living in a perennial fear that the aircraft will just take off and leave us at the gate?
Ten minutes into boarding, the line of passengers was still quite long and hardly anyone was waiting. I wondered if something was the issue because the two calls made so far were for boarding the last 10 rows. My seats were in the 11th row so I got up along with my kids and joined the line to board. Well, guess what? When I entered the aircraft almost all the front row passengers had boarded while the last 10 rows had fewer passengers. That was a facepalm moment. Seriously, are we allergic to following instructions or are we living in a perennial fear that the aircraft will just take off and leave us at the gate? What kind of insecurity drives this stupidity?
2. They deboard as if the plane's seats are on fire
Again, it looks as if some of us are so tormented by the flight experience that we are one hair short of pulling open the emergency exit and jumping out of the plane. Since that's not an option, we settle for jumping up as soon as the plane stops and prepare to eject ourselves in tearing hurry, making sure to edge any other passenger out of the way.
Some people conveniently stow away their hand luggage places meant for you. If you protest they look as if you asked them to donate their eyes to you...
Seriously guys, relax! What drives you to stand hunched with your hand luggage while you wait for the aircraft's doors to open? Of course, repeated calls by the flight attendant to stay seated fall on deaf ears. Trust me they do want all of us off their plane eventually.
3. They are surgically attached to their mobiles
There are folks who cannot bear the idea of not having mobile connectivity while in air. Hence they continue to have loud conversations for as long as they possibly can, sometimes even after the plane is airborne ignoring the flight attendants' entreaties. Yet again showing how we hate following instructions and how brazenly we flout rules.
4. They think all space is their space
I am reminded of those days when I used to take the early morning Shatabdi from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Now, Shatabdi is a seater train, so there's not much space for storage. Not that it matters. You'll often see passengers carrying truckloads of luggage and then stuffing them in places meant for others' luggage. They feel it is first come, first served and glare at you if you try to retrieve your luggage space.
It's the same story on airplanes. Some people carry a lot of hand luggage and then conveniently stow it away in places meant for you. If you protest they give you angry glares as if you have asked them to donate their eyes to you. Sometimes, I grin and bear it but last time I moved the encroacher's luggage and put mine in its rightful place. Where is the politeness to ask when you wish to use space meant for others?
5. They assault your senses
I am very tolerant of toddlers and babies. I know that their behaviour is hardly under anyone's control and I can see how the poor parents struggle. What does get my goat is people who chat loudly or indulge in laugh fests that threaten to cause turbulence. I guess it is not easy for them to understand that this is a public space and ideally you should not be destroying the peace of others.
[T]here are people who keep kicking your seat from behind and those who recline their seats just when you've opened your tray table
Then there are people who keep kicking your seat from behind and those who recline their seats just when you've opened your tray table almost squeezing all air out of your lungs and making your food fly. Then there are some who fall all over you or keep elbowing you, making you shrink further away in the already uncomfortable seat.
Let me not mention the loud burpers, snorers and gasballs and--worst of all--those with bad body odour who almost make you faint. Ugh!
Some of these things can make you smile if you are in a pleasant mood, but generally they just drive you up the wall. It really is a pleasure to have an airline companion who is well-mannered, quiet and respects your space.
Do you have any such observations to share?
This post has been previously published on Rachna says.
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