On the SpiceJet flight SG622 from Kolkatta to Chennai on the evening of August 24th, I witnessed something remarkable.
I was absorbed in reading a magazine when suddenly, I saw an air-hostess run across the aisle. Then very quickly, I saw all the 6 air-hostesses rush to a passenger about 10 rows in front of me. The gentleman had severe shivering and could not even speak. So bad was the shivering that it looked like he was having a uncontrollable fit.
The air-hostesses quickly swung into action. While one of the air-hostesses closed the air vents, the other quickly collected their own uniform jackets and covered the shivering passenger. One went on to phone the pilots in the cockpit and update them on the emergency situation. One other air-hostess, made a public announcement asking if any of the passengers were a doctor. There was a doctor on board and he quickly swung into action. Two other air-hostesses got him a bottle of water to drink and did cold towel treatment to this forehead.
The crew raised the in-cabin temperature to a level that there was practically no chillness. It started to get a little uncomfortable but not a single passenger complained.
The crew messaged the on-ground staff and arranged for medical staff to be ready. They picked up the contact number of his brother in Chennai and phoned him in advance to tell him of his condition.
I will never forger how alert and sincere all the 6 air-hostesses were. After the plane landed, many of the passengers as they were disembarking showed their appreciation to the crew.
Years of flying has taught me which seats to pick and which ones to avoid. Its helped me make my journeys better and figured it might be useful to you too.
The following advice is intended for aircrafts like Boeing 737-800 ( Jet Airways, SpiceJet ) and Airbus A320 (GoAir, IndiGo, KingFisher and Indian Airlines) but may be applicable to many others.
The Best Seat: Want to get an Economy Class seat with as much legroom as a Business Class seat? Then use these three magic words when you check-in. ‘Emergency Reclining Aisle‘. Now Repeat that 10 times loudly.
Don’t just ask for Emergency seat, ask for Emergency Reclining. This is the second row of emergency seats that not only has the leg room but its also reclining.
As a bonus, a good looking air-hostess will come to you to read out the emergency exit instructions.
The Worst Seat: Its the row just before the emergency seats. Not only is the leg space cramped, the reclining is disabled as well. So is with the seats in the very last row. To make it worse, you have two toilets to deal with. Now you know what to avoid.
Trust that was useful. Do you have any aircraft tips to share?
I have always been flummoxed by this behavior. After the aircraft lands and the Milli-second after the seat belt sign goes off, people get off their seats as if its an emergency evacuation. They grab their luggage and stand uncomfortably in the aisle.
Everyone who stands in the aisle know that the doors don’t open for another 10 minutes. So why bother?
There’s no time advantage either. At best, they save 2 minutes but that immediately gets evened out when they are made to wait in the transfer bus and even more so at the luggage carousel.
I’ve seen this habit mostly in India and wanted to figure out the reasons behind this behavior. Here’s what I could come up with.
1) Wanting to stretch their legs after sitting for long.
2) Having a false sense of saving time.
3) Herd mentality. When you see others standing up, you do too so as not not lose any competitive edge.
But by far the best explanation I heard is from a fellow passenger who traveled with me in yesterday’s flight. He’s a Mumbaikar who now stays in Bangkok. He says its a habit that we have acquired from our days of traveling in Buses and Trains.
We usually get up from our seats much before our destination comes because we have to weave and squeeze our way through the standing crowd to edge closer to the exit door. Its a mentality that has sunk deep into us. He says we involuntarily do that even in flights.
Its the strangest answer I heard but it makes good sense.
What do you think are the reasons?
The Airlines Scam and How I Experienced it First Hand.
Remember the CNN IBN report on how airlines overbook passengers and delay their check-in, so that they miss their flights? And pocket the money. Well, I saw that happen yesterday morning.
I had a Jet Airways flight at 7:15 am from Chennai to Mumbai. I landed at the airport by 6:25 am and by the time I finished ‘baggage screening’ and hit the counter, it was 6:35 am. The crowd in the airport was surprisingly less. I didn’t have to stand in the queue for baggage screening and check-in counter.
I handed over my check-in printout and my driving license to the lady at the counter. She took a few minutes checking into her computer. She then went to her colleague and they had a whispering conversation.
She came back and with a straight face, said, “Sorry sir, It’s 6:45 am and we close the boarding half hour before take off. The boarding is now closed. You are late for the check-in. ”
Late? Did she say, “late” ??.
I keep my cool. I tell her I was at the counter 10 minutes ago. She says that doesn’t count and the fact that since its 6:45 now, she is forced to close the counter.
And what she said next, totally pissed me off.
She said, “Besides, the plane is already full”
I ask her,”How can it be full, if I’m standing here in front of you?”
To that she replied, “Oh, we usually overbook the seats”
Now, I’m beginning to boil. I understood their strategy. Last minute bookings are done by desperate business folks who *must* make the journey and are willing to pay whatever it costs. The average last minute cost of an economy class ticket is around Rs.10,000.
I grudgingly keep my calm. “Overbook? How can you give away my paid seat to another person? You are doing exactly the same scam that CNN IBN exposed last week.”
With an even sterner face, she says, “Sir, we are allowed to overbook. It’s legal”
I said, “Oh, yeah?” and quietly and very slowly, proceeded to open my bag. I took out my video camera and my voice recorder and placed it on the counter.
And in a really calm voice, I said, “Can you repeat your last sentence, please. I’d like you to go on record. And if you are not authorized to speak, I would like you to put me with your press relations executive”.
The word ‘press’ seems to have caught everybody’s attention. Six of her colleagues stopped working abruptly and kept starring at us. The lady I was speaking to stiffened a bit. The sight of a video camera, a voice recorder, and the ”You mess with me, and I’ll mess with you back” look on my face can be a rather strong combination.
At that time, a Jet official stepped up to the counter, and whisked away the lady aside. Three other colleagues joined them to form a huddle. Two minutes later, the lady returns and says, “Sir, we will put you on a 1:30 afternoon flight to Mumbai”
I have a 2:00 pm meeting with Kevin Turner. This ‘compromise’ is of no use to me. I tell her so and proceeded to add, “When can I meet up with your press relations executive?” . And I wasn’t kidding. If I missed the flight, all the efforts and money that Microsoft put in to get me to their COO’s meeting would be gone. And I have a face to lose. I’m not going to let a bunch of scheming airline staff do that. And if they do that, I was hell bent on paying the gratitude back.
At all times, I never raised my voice. Never screamed. I think the airlines staff are well trained to handle irate, screaming customers. But a calm but firm talk unnerves them.
Another huddle happens.
The lady returned and this time, she takes a printout, hands me the boarding pass, and with a very plastic smile says, “Enjoy your flight, Sir”.
I wasn’t in a mood for artificial niceties. I nodded, picked up my boarding pass and proceeded to the security check.
And as I climbed the stairs to the plane, I couldn’t help contain the smile of victory.