Working as a cabin crew in an airline is no joke. While every airline has some safety guideline to avoid pandemonium mid-air, passenger behaviour at times can get unruly and difficult to manage. Most airhostesses say that subcontinent flights can get a little annoying as people often don’t have the patience to wait till the flight has taxied to a halt before deboarding. Himani, who works for a Middle-Eastern carrier, says, “Indian passengers stand up the minute the wheel touches the tarmac and start taking out their luggage. They don’t listen to the crew’s repeated requests to sit down.”
Another issue, she points out, is that passengers suddenly remember they have to use the washroom as soon as the announcement is made that passengers should fasten their seatbelts. Then there are passengers, mostly NRIs settled in the US and the UK who ask crew for separate washrooms. “It’s like they expect us to have separate toilets for each nationalities.”
Several Indian passengers insist is on keeping handbags right above their seats in the overhead cabin. “They have a huge problem if it is displaced even a little bit. That’s just impractical. Who’s going to steal your bag mid-flight?” says Sakshi, who works with a private airline.
Asking for drinks one after the other, demanding free upgrades and getting offended when refused, and complaining about the way a passenger in front has reclined his/her seat, the litany of woes Indian passengers make on-board can put even a petulant five-yearold to shame.
“There are mothers who change their baby’s diapers on the seat stinking up the whole place. This is a huge problem, as others start complaining,” says Sakshi. Many Indian passengers are quite finicky about food. Non-vegetarians go mad if we tell them that there is no chicken on the menu. “They keep saying ‘chicken nahi hai? Please get it.’ Where do we get it from? We’re in an aircraft, not in a restaurant!” she adds.
Airhostess Kanika, who works for a Middle-Eastern carrier narrates, “Once we had a relatively new crew member on-board and a passenger asked him for an extra pair of headphones. As the crew was looking for an extra pair in the overhead bin, a wooden walking stick fell from the bin on top a lady sitting below. It was an accident. And the crew apologised profusely. But the passenger was not pacified she started screaming and shouting, turning it into a big issue. I had to literally fall on her feet to pacify her,” recalls Kanika.
“Some people like to create drama about every little thing. Indian passengers are notorious for this. They get angry and offended fast.” Cabin crew also says that passengers can be quite insensitive. “If someone dies mid-flight, the protocol demands that the crew put the body on the seat. On one such occasion, there was a family sitting nearby and they started complaining about it and getting By Karishma Kuenzang Airhostesses say Indian passengers don’t have the patience to wait till the flight has taxied to a halt before deboarding.
angry at the crew. But what can we do in an aircraft? We also have to follow protocol,” says Kanika. Rashi, who works for a Middle-Eastern carrier, says that she once had a 14-year-old female passenger, who was travelling with her parents from London to Sri Lanka. She apparently got possessed right before landing. The crew was in their seats preparing for the landing, when the teenager came running and screaming.