Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shut Up And Fasten Your Seat Belt

This appeared in The SA Times on Saturday.

At the ticket counter:
"Hi, here is my e-ticket and I need to check in 2 bags."
"That'll be $40 extra, $20 per bag. It's our new charge in case you haven’t heard. And yours is the middle seat in the last row. Happy bouncing."

At the security check-in:
"Miss, can you take the hood off your baby's head and shake it? Can you take her socks off and shake them as well? We need all your baby food to pass our vapor test so please step aside. And don't look at me like I'm crazy."

At the gate:
"Any chance I can get an upgrade? I am a platinum member."
"No, miss, the flight is full. Next."

On board a 6-hour flight, 10 minutes into the flight:
“Miss, can you please fasten your seat belt?”
“I have. Honestly. It’s hidden under my jacket so you can’t see it.”
“Miss, please I need you to fasten your seat belt.”
“Jeez, do you have x-ray vision?”

On board a 6-hour flight, 30 minutes into the flight:

"Do you offer a meal service?"
"Yes, our options for the day are a cold turkey sandwich for $5 and a crab salad also for $5."
"Anything vegetarian?"
"We had a bag of chips for $3 and a chocolate-chip cookie for $2.50."
"Anything free?"
"Water, orange juice and tomato juice. Oh and there is no charge to use the lavatory."

On board a 6-hour flight, 3 hours into the flight, while going for a stroll to kick off the numbness in your legs:
"Miss, can you return to your seat please? The captain has just switched on the 'fasten seatbelt' sign."
“But I…”
“Thank you.”

These were just routine scenarios if you were a masochist and preferred flying to walking/ driving /swimming. But lately some airlines seem to be getting more of a pain.

On board a 6-hour flight, 20 minutes into the flight:
"Hi, I don't see any magazines in the holder here. Can you please get me some?"
"Sorry, we don't keep magazines on board anymore."

On board a 6-hour flight, 45 minutes into the flight:
"Can I please get cutlery for my $5 cold turkey sandwich? I need to slice the bread off the turkey so I can turn it into a vegetarian meal."
"Sorry, your meal does not require spoons, forks or knives so they didn't come with it. We don't have any extra."
"Does not require? DOES NOT REQUIRE? But I need it."

On board a 6-hour flight, 50 minutes into the flight, watching the guy in the next seat, eating a crab salad and conversing with the air-hostess:
"My fork and knife seem to be really small for the crab pieces. Do you have anything bigger?"
"Sorry, we just reduced the sizes of cutlery to save on fuel cost."
"Are you on crack?"

Don’t give me credit for being funny or sarcastic for these are mere facts. Airlines are getting creative as they look for ways to save fuel and other costs during what is beginning to feel like a here-to-stay-forever economic downturn. Some like Japan's JAL have been shaving spoon sizes and dumping in-flight magazines in an effort to make planes less heavier and save fuel. These airlines think it's going to make a huge difference. I'm sure they've run some numbers to back this decision.

Call me naive, but wouldn't it make more sense if the weight limit for carry-on luggage were to be reduced a bit? Wouldn't that account for a lot more difference than reducing spoon sizes? Perhaps they can impose personal weight limits on passengers. For men, maximum body weight should not exceed 190 pounds and for women, 130. Wait, I see the point... they don't want to trouble the already distressed passenger any more by imposing further limits.

Aaaaah. Never mind. You can always carry your own magazines and your own vegetarian food. Maybe you can carry your own forks and knives too now. Lemme know what happens ;)

Fly high.

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