30/03/2017 1:53 PM IST | Updated 03/04/2017 1:52 PM IST

There's A Tiny Bit Of Ravindra Gaikwad In Many Indian Passengers

They have an intimate relationship with the overhead button.

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The Shiv Sena's Ravindra Gaikwad assaulted a senior Air India official. Such plane rage cannot be pardoned. It is good to see that competing airlines have closed ranks to ban the unrepentant Gaikwad, who obviously believes that being a MP entitles him to throw his weight and sandals around with impunity. It has been my experience that airlines in India have to deal with a host of annoying passengers on a regular basis, and not just limited to the privileged Gaikwad category of violent boors. I am speaking about the rising breed of regular air travellers who are deliberately irksome, but alert and careful not to break the law.

They ring the bell even as their bums descend on their seat before take-off. It is almost a reflex action...

It does not take too much time to identify them. They ring the bell even as their bums descend on their seat before take-off. It is almost a reflex action to reach out for the overhead button to test if it is working. They need to be sure that the service of a smartly attired flight attendant is available on call, as it is included in the money they have spent to buy the cramped economy seating. Even as others are still boarding, the hostess is forced to weave her way with some difficulty among suitcases, laptop bags and passengers trying to settle down. If the flight happens to be heading to tipplers' paradise Goa, the chaos is much more as there are several who are at their seats but make life difficult for everybody else. For them the Goa jamboree has already begun, which needs to be captured as selfies along with Snapchat and YouTube videos of dancing, laughing, smirking and cracking jokes.

"Can I have a glass of water," a typical Annoyer will sheepishly ask the stewardess when she finally makes it to the seat. The awkwardness is no reflection of the steely resolve to press the bell whether needed or not through the duration of the flight. Another Annoyer, male or female, could ring to ask what time the food trolley is expected to arrive as she is dying of hunger. Never mind that they've gorged at the food court at the airport prior to the flight.

They will seek directions to the toilet, when there are no visible detours inside a plane. It can only be down the aisle.

Yet another one may seek directions to the toilet, when there are no visible detours inside a plane. It can only be down the aisle. Other common behaviours include: repeated requests for water as if stuck in the middle of a desert or there is need to stock up for an imminent drought; asking for a newspaper or coffee when the seat belt sign is switched on due to severe air turbulence; complaining about the seat in front pushed back beyond permissible limits; keeping up the beeping until the poor air hostess arrives struggling to avoid falling on other travellers. The Annoyer will also make it a point to rush to the toilet after the pilot has announced the commencement of landing due to which fretful crew members knock on the door informing it is against the rule to pee now; worse, an Annoyer can make a dash for the urinal after the pilot has asked the cabin crew to take their seat for landing in a few minutes.

The Annoyers will again ring the bell after arrival to utilise the one last opportunity to maximise value for money spent; they politely request for a pen, pencil, newspaper, water, or inquire whether it is okay to use the loo now, to which there is a standard air hostess reply: "Disembark, step into the waiting bus, upon arrival at the airport building there will be toilets on the left and right of the entrance, demarcated separately Ladies and Gentlemen or He or She, for convenience of transiting passengers whose bladders are bursting. And, if the concerned person is unable to find the loos they can contact ground staff."

I do, however, sympathise with Gaikwad for insisting on travelling business class. The barely existent leg room that airlines offer the cattle class has become a norm across the world. It is inappropriate, degrading, mercenary and inhuman.

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