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Heated atmosphere

 Editorial |  2017-11-29 17:37:32.0

Heated atmosphere

Hassled airline passengers continue to grab headlines with their outburst, and sometimes with a little violence against the airline staff. The tiff and the slaps exchanged between a woman Air India staffer and an Ahmedabad-bound mother-son duo, early on Tuesday morning, was only the latest one in a long series of such incidents at Indian airports in the recent past. Despite the heavy traffic of passengers passing through these airports, seldom do we find a foreigner involved in such tiffs or acts of violence. Does this mean that they agree to the norms at the airports more readily than we Indians do? So, here it was, a woman passenger who wanted to catch an early morning flight to Ahmedabad from IGI Airport in Delhi was told that she arrived at the boarding counter three minutes late and could not be given a boarding pass. This led to a heated argument between the woman passenger and the airline staff, which escalated to physical violence and ended at the police station where both apologised to each other for the slapping incident. The woman passenger was accommodated in the next flight to her destination, as is the norm. Surely, the woman passenger had not expected this turn of events when she decided to catch an early morning flight to join her IAS husband in Ahmedabad, where he is posted for election duty. Nor did the woman staffer of Air India realise that her listless early morning shift on the job in this winter chill would go on to become so eventful. But in the process, one claims that Air India was trounced. It was in the background of the Indigo staffer beating and dragging a passenger on the tarmac at the same airport, a month ago that Air India had come out with two funny adverts, which went viral. One said, "We raise our hands only to say Namaste." The other said, "Unbeatable service". Tuesday's incident goes on to prove that Air India is at least pretty much the same as any other airlines in the country, especially when dealing with their passengers. Meanwhile, Jet Airways had also taken pot shots, saying, "We beat our competitors, not you." All the three adverts unleashed a wave of funny comments on Twitter. But what really set Twitter alight was the incident involving the upcoming singer Aditya Narayan, son of star singer Udit Narayan. The junior Narayan after being told to pay up for the additional luggage reportedly told the Indigo staffer, "Mumbai Chalo chadhhi utarwa loonga." Twitteratis came up with hilarious responses, from saying that the Junior Narayan has a fetish for used undergarments to some offering their own to Narayan. Last time, we heard a similar incident on Twitter was about the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu, who said her 'experience was very bad' while flying from Hyderabad to Mumbai. She had also accused an airline staffer by naming him, stating that he misbehaved with her. Her tiff with the airline began when her oversized sports kit did not fit in the overhead cabins for the handbags. From common people to celebrities, the flying experience in the Indian skies is marred with rude behaviour of the ground staff or below-average quality of services meted out by the airlines. Angry passengers are increasingly losing their calm while dealing with these anomalies. But instead of dealing with these issues with the sensibility that is needed, if passengers start misbehaving with the airline staff, who work under tremendous pressure and at odd hours given the nature of their job, things would only get worse. A no-fly list is in the works of the Aviation Ministry. Rude passengers would be identified and barred from boarding any airlines in the country. It will also have guidelines for airline staff and provisions to report any misbehavior on their part. The little freedoms that we indulge in at the moment while passing through airports and during the flight may soon be lost to more stringent formalities and rules. So, it is in the interest of the passengers that instead of giving in to wild instincts, it is better to practice patience and develop a cordial understanding with the airline staff. However, this story of passengers misbehaving with airline staff or vice versa cannot be concluded without a reference to Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who some months ago had beaten an Air India staffer with slippers inside the plane. It is beyond anybody's comprehension what irked him so much. Or was he simply too arrogant? Whatever be the case, such display of unrestrained behaviour from our lawmakers does not set a good example for others to follow, which they are already doing in some measure while flying domestically.

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