February 2, 2017 by Preeks
I was flying on a horribly delayed flight on my much haunted Mumbai-Bangalore circuit yesterday. After sitting on the runway for nearly 1.5 hours, the passengers started complaining and shouting at the air hostess. She smiled and tried to pacify them somewhat and went back to her corner behind the cockpit. From where I sat, I got a private viewing into what happens behind the scenes.
She went there and slammed the tray angrily. Her co-steward patted on her back and pulled her cheek to humour her. Suddenly, some irksome passenger pressed the calling bell and she turned back – Full smile back on.
I was amazed. Like, really really amazed.
I have never ever thought about airhostesses as this “human”. Of course, they get angry. Of course, they find some passengers irritating. Of course, they bear the brunt of fog in Delhi causing delay of flight to Amritsar, which adds up to the return flight to Delhi and then the flight from Delhi to Pune and from Pune to Mumbai and from Mumbai to Bangalore (which I found out from the Air Hostess, was her route yesterday)
The delays are not in their hands and yet, they face the passengers’ ire.
I am just taking a wild guess here, but I assume their day goes somewhat like this:
Alarm ringing at 4 am. First snooze, second snooze, third snooze. And up!
Get out of the warm cozy bed, walk over to the large hotel window and look out.
Fog. Sigh. It’s going to be a long long day.
Get ready, put on your public face and check out of the hotel.
Reach the airport and check-in, bypassing the long queues of sleepy passengers with some of them cursing at how staff gets preference.
Reach the flight and start prepping. Cup Noodles? Tick. Cashews? Tick. Sandwich? Tick.
And then wait for the fog to clear out. Every minute of delay adds on to the woes. First the cascaded delay to all the flights of the day. And then meeting a new set of angry 200 people on each flight.
When passengers start coming in, grumbling, sleepy and angry, smile and welcome them on board.
Yes, we got delayed because of the fog.
Yes, we are sorry for the delay.
Yes, we are trying to get onto the runway.
Yes, we will take off in some time.
No, you cannot get off now.
Yes, we will get you water.
No, we cannot compensate with snacks for you.
No, we cannot serve food till we take off.
“Cabin crew, please be seated for take off.” Thank god. Peace.
But, no. “Sir, will you please sit down? The flight is taking off.”
Once in the air, the usual tantrums. How come you don’t have this? How is the paratha cold? No, I don’t have change. My company must have booked a corporate meal, please check again.
Start collecting all the waste. With a smile on your face.
And repeat the whole cycle. This time, with a bit more delay added. And slightly more angry passengers.
By the last flight, you have a delay of 2 hours and a flight full of enraged people, who also probably had a long day.
But here’s the thing. Passengers have one delayed flight. The Air Hostess has 4 back to back delayed flights. And she gets blamed for the delay for no fault of hers. And she smiles through it.
Guess it takes a different level of patience to play that role.
#JustSaying It helps to see others’ perspective at times.