Disclaimer: This is a sort of #whatifeel so no need to lose sleep over this.
I recently came across this article ‘One night in Paris‘ getting shared by my friends on facebook. I guess many Indians are doing the same all over the world. It is a tale of how disappointed an Indian felt for his flight getting cancelled in Paris and the hardships he had to face in the airport.
The article in question is an open letter to the CEO of Air-France/KLM. The author makes a fairly well documented case for airport/airline harassment. He gives a nicely portioned account of how the airline first delayed and then cancelled his flight to India. On top of that they didn’t arrange for a replacement flight. They were refused transit Visas and had to spend the night in the airport. They were given food coupons and bedding (‘resting kit’ he says) albeit with some delay. The next day they were accommodated on a different flight. All sounds good, doesn’t it? He claims otherwise. Now I realize perfectly that he doesn’t have to feel judged by me but since he posted his article online I feel I have the right to judge him as I please on my part. I feel this is nothing but a spoilt Indian kid’s angry tantrum for something that he didn’t have any control over.
He says the flight delay is not informed to the passengers in person. Now those of you who have visited Indian airports may know that this is something that is so common in India that it may as well be expected everytime a flight is delayed in India. I feel for him here since we do seem to hold foreigners to have better service standards than ourselves, unfortunately for him I do not feel this is particularly true as many foreigners will tell you themselves. He then says the airline fails to understand his pain of being away from his family for a month, one whole month! can you believe it? actually yes I can. I have been away from home for a long time, a year for the matter. This is what I tell him, don’t be mad young child, people spend a big part of their lives away from their family, especially if they are not from one of the Asian countries. I know you are not used to being away from your family but learn to accept it, learn from the experience and move on. He talks of getting lunch vouchers but asked to go to a certain restaurant. I’m sorry I just don’t feel his pain here. The airline obviously has an arrangement with that particular restaurant and so wanted you to only go there. Is that really difficult to accept? I’m sorry if you felt like cattle being driven around but in essence international travel is little more than that anyways. Don’t like the feel? get rich and get a plane yourself or you could try growing up, your choice.
He says they are refused transit visas upon the flight getting cancelled. He seems to be confused and angry ( “utter disbelief” he says) . I’m sorry but I didn’t know transit visas are granted by airlines. I always thought transit visas are granted by border control, but I accept I may be wrong ( I don’t think I am though) since I have never had to get a transit visa. I am not sure but I think he may have tried to get a transit visa himself if he really wanted it. He then progresses to try for some sympathy since he points out the problem of one Mr. Subhransu Mishra. His father has died a few days ago and he is flying to see him one last time. Mr. Subhransu Mishra gets all of my sympathy, I wish he didn’t have to face all of this on this very important flight, but to me Mr. Mishra seems a lot more grown up about the problem than the author himself. This is a sad situation but one that is rather common in our growingly capitalist society. A problem that an Indian should be well aware of for being from India. Don’t like it, change it. Don’t just complain and then expect someone else to take care of your problems for you.
He is refused access to Air France’s business lounge. I am sorry, flight cancellation can be tiresome and frustrating but it is not such an emergency situation such that the airline has to inconvenience all of its business class passengers. Maybe you could have picked an airline which has an economy class lounge. Business class passengers pay a hefty premium to have their perks, but I believe you could have flown business class too. I wonder how you would have reacted if passengers from another cancelled flight came in to relax in the lounge and you couldn’t find a place for yourself. He talks of many passengers who could not speak English and were frightened and eager to get home. I figure he is talking of the elderly Indians. I wonder if HE could have helped these people since I think he may be able to speak Hindi. However I get the abject feeling that he sees their plight, feels sad, feels angry (assumption here!) and then abandons them to their plight (you’ll see later on). I agree Air-France dropped the ball, but you could have done your part rather than only expect others to do theirs. He says the airline failed to provide wheelchairs to the elderly even though they could see 20 wheelchairs very near on the grounds that they belonged to another airline. I am sorry they had to face Air-France’s incompetency of not being able to provide wheelchairs but I do not understand why he feels angry at the reason given for not providing the wheelchairs in front of them. I think its a very good reason. In case they were given these wheelchairs and the other airlines had such as emergency then I wonder how those passengers would have reacted to being told “we don’t have wheelchairs because some other airlines took the ones meant for you”, I wonder how the author would have reacted had he been in their shoes, hit someone? I guess.
He says he has to change terminals everytime he needs something. Unfortunate but something very common in international travel and something you should be prepared to do. As to an official being assigned to them still doesn’t solve the problem of who is going to deliver all the stuff they need although that should have been done for mediation purposes at any rate. He is furious that he has to wait 45 minutes to get bedding and blankets (‘resting kit’). Really! 45 minutes is your grievance! I had to wait longer to check-in last time I traveled International in normal circumstances. He says they had to sleep on the floor. Boo hoo hoo! really on the hard floor? where a mojor portion of our 7 Billion sleep, some without even a roof over them? wow! life really is hard on you, you poor creature. Here he points out something that perplexes me. He says that everyone on the “upper deck resting area” are mostly Indians. I figure he was on a flight to India (Bombay he says) so majority may as well be Indians. As to non-Indians not being there that’s probably because EU visa holders don’t require transit visas. There were probably some non-EU non-Indians and he does say that some non-Indians were there.
The next day’s account is even more compelling. They are given food vouchers for breakfast. Danish pastry and tea/coffee (not a bad breakfast by any means, least of all the rubbish they serve in many airlines). Now the author is vegetarian and on top of that doesn’t drink tea/coffee or aerated drinks. The world is mostly non-vegetarian and its very common at places to not get vegetarian options, I doubt he has a better experience in US when he visits his sister. Logistics is something that is important to people who deal in numbers and the restaurant people probably are. He then tells how he won a shouting match with the restaurant cook ( shows him, then hah!). I have always believed that being able to shout louder than the other person is a sign of immaturity rather than smartness. They then get their flight. Its another flight and not one that is specially arranged for them. He says they were not properly accommodated, I wonder what that means. Did they not get seats and had to stand? I think not. He says their original flight barely had 45 people in a flight of 300 seating. So all his complains have been about 45 people and now he is angry that the accommodated flight didn’t have empty seats? I don’t get it, I think he just thought how he would enjoy a near empty flight and was disappointed to have missed out on that. He says they are going to miss out on $5000 worth of annual profit ( I think he means business). $5000 !!! that’s a lot of flying Air-France, I wonder why he continues to fly Air-France even when he has heard of all the untoward instances of experiences (as he says he did). Maybe he ignored them. I wonder what that says about him.
A Dutch national is offered compensation package while the author is yet to from the airlines. I believe this is so because losing the Dutch business would be a greater loss to Air France or perhaps because someone in the Dutch tourism board may pick this up. Indian tourism board? they wouldn’t bother. I sometimes get the distinct feeling that they would rather you not leave the country (which may actually be true). He says that he is going to file a court case. You go ahead Mr. Author, you have every right to feel aggrieved and every right to file a legal case as you point out that the incident was at the fault of EU law. I feel for your experience and I am going to do my best to avoid Air-France myself but please don’t go about saying that they failed on humanitarian levels since you did jack for all the plight your co-passengers had to face. I think you are an angry consumer who has been faulted but I also feel that you are rich, spoilt and in truth in-sensitive to everyone around you. Au Revoir to you and good luck growing up.