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Weird Traits of The Indian Passenger on Flights

In the last 8 years 10 years, I have flown in 35 flights 58 flights, domestic & international both and it is with this base that I am sharing my experiences on whatever I have seen on flights, especially the typical traits of an Indian passenger. Some may feel it’s not that big a number, if compared to some others who might have flown over 500 times, in order to generalize. Some may feel a little offended… but I am not a racist. It’s just that I have observed these traits over & over again and hence wish to bring it to forefront with a view that even if 2 out of 10 of us can introspect ourselves & our approach on flights, our collective “passenger flying experience” can become more pleasurable every time.

Out of the 54 flights that I have flown in, most have been alongside an Indian passenger (I am an Indian too !). And I saw some very distinct passenger traits and I am concerned about them. So, what are these ?

My Top 7 Behaviour Traits Observable in an Indian Passenger


1) The Body Language of the Indian Passenger 

Every single time as I tried to enter the airport first security point (say at T2, CSIA, Mumbai), I have seen the body language of a lot of Indians changing, starting from the way they get out of the cab at the Airport, the way they hand over the money to the cab driver, right up to the point of boarding the plane and the way they do not greet the cabin crew, not even bothering to look at her, all denotes a lot of negativity to me. Once I remember, at Nagpur Airport for the 8.40 pm Go-Air flight from Nagpur to Pune, it was pathetic for me to see a 35-40 year old, suited-booted bespectacled passenger from a pretty big corporate house, intruding on other’s space, adjusting his own luggage for the security check, w/o caring a damn about the people in queue 🙁 It was so so so very arrogant of him. He may be a big guy, but I just felt cheap of him.

2) “Get More With Less Least” Approach

A lot of us expect too much with too little. So on one hand, we aim to get lowest airfare on a low-cost airline and will be very happy with a Mumbai – Delhi Economy Class Air Fare @ less than INR 2,500 but we expect a whole lot of services on that flight. We won’t fly a full-fledge carrier or in Premier Class by shelling out more money. I mean if we really wanted to fly like a King, we should have paid like a King. “With peanuts, you get monkeys !”

3) Assuming of Cabin Crew as their Personal Assistants

Many passenger lots, more from the gents and sometimes ladies too, treating the cabin crew either extremely nicely (Over-The-Top is the correct word) or with disdain. This extremely nice behaviour shows that may be they are in awe with the glamour the crew carries to their job or then invariably these passengers try to sneek or brush their body slightly against the female crew & try to get close while the crew is passing through on the aisle. Else, the passengers are predetermined that the crew is appointed to personally serve them. Now, I have no personal inclination towards the Cabin Crew and there were some I felt who were absolutely not in that Customer Service mode. But none-the-less, let’s spare a thought for the crew member. They have been flying day in & day out, away from their family, away from the festivities at their home / place / relatives / country. You may argue that it was their own choice and how they were aware of the career choice they made but that still does not qualify the passengers to treat the crew like that. I have seen passengers taking their cabin baggage packed to the maximum and then they expect a female crew to store it in the overhead bins. Sorry ! That’s actually not her main job. She is doing it just to help the passengers, nothing more than that should be expected of her here. Because her primary role is actually ensuring safety (especially say in case of a pregnant woman on board). It has happened at least 10 times, where I was a first hand witness to such things and I always take it upon myself to help her store that luggage in OH bins. I don’t confront such passengers, just a quick stern look and thankfully, 60-70% of the passengers in this situation realize this and act in respect. And I get a sense of good feeling and a graceful smile from Cabin Crew ! 😛

4) Yelling, Shouting, Abusing at Cabin Crew

Quite a few times I must say it was justified. Not abusing but a little raised voices & tones here & there. But I regularly see a lot of people shouting or getting angry absolutely unnecessarily. Most often this is when the overhead bin space above the traveler’s seat is full and then he has to store his luggage 3 rows behind. I always say, if you really have so many complaints, give it in writing at the Airport or else, don’t travel with the said airline if this is happening regularly. No point creating a scene on flight.

5) Being Indifferent & Careless of Others

Whether it is not paying attention on the Safety Instructions being told, or listening music & not removing ear-plugs while the Crew serves you food and then repeating “What ?” 3 times is extremely annoying. Reclining your seat without taking the fellow traveler at the back, in confidence (as a kind gesture), not acceptable. Bumping into you, stepping onto your feet and then saying “I am Sorry” with a sarcastic smile or grin – that’s rude. Taking so much time in aircraft washroom or smoking in there, despite it not being allowed – not good. There are a lot of washrooms at the airport itself, release your load there mate & help the airline save on fuel consumption (Funny but true… The airlines will agree with me secretly) ! Just when the plane is at cruising altitude, meals are done and lights are lowered, you will find some “super-intelligent” group of passengers discussing Indian Policy Matters, the Government Policy Decisions and how to help India move ahead. They won’t care a damn about their tone & their volume 🙁 Very self-centered view I would say. A lot of ladies with children on board, I don’t know, somehow don’t pay attention on their children running up & down the aisle or screaming & yelling (even in joy), that really can be annoying for the fellow travelers. Either it just doesn’t register in their minds or they are blatantly ignorant of the fact or they are very proud of their children’s antiques. None-the-less, I have seen 4 toddlers on my 3 flights to & from New Delhi extremely well-behaved and I made it a point to appreciate & congratulate their parents, once I broke ice with them. All good families.

6) Excessive Liquor Consumption and Weird Whims & Fancies

On my flights of Air India, Jet Airways, Bangkok Airways & Indigo, I have helplessly watched the Cabin Crew running helter-skelter for serving liquor / other drinks to some passengers. One group of Indian oldies (around 55-60 age group) were adamant in their approach on having drinks first and their dinner after about 2 hours. That’s the way they put it to the Bangkok – Mumbai Jet Airways Cabin Crew, very firmly. And I thought “Are they going to keep on drinking for 2 hours ? And is the crew supposed to wait for their drinks to get over after 2 hours and then serve them their dinner as per their whims & fancies, just like it might be happening at their home ?” You don’t know how much badly I wanted to punch these 5 gentlemen, talking on Indian Politics and expecting this crew member as their servant on call. Hideous !

7) Deplaning Urgency

Even when the plane is on the main runway and onto the taxiway, whoa ! you will find 50% of the crowd standing on the aisle, getting ready to deplane. Who will explain to these super-busy guys that irrespective of how much urgency you have, connecting the aero-bridge to the plane or a manual staircase to the plane takes a minimum of 8 minutes… Who will explain to these guys that ultimately we are going to take the same bus that is waiting for us downstairs, to take us to the Arrival Hall 🙂 Post this, we will have to wait to pick up our luggage. However fast the ground staff operate, they will take a minimum 8-10 minutes to unload our luggage & put it on the Baggage Conveyor System, for the first bag to come in. So, it’s going to be more or less the same thing, no matter how much you are in a hurry (Exceptions like a Medical Emergency at home not to be considered here !).

While yes, India as a country has always been in awe with aeroplanes and the airline industry, it has been associated with glamour and India, still being a poor / developing country on an average, flying is not an option for everyone even today. So much so that I think, that now it has been ingrained in our minds that we still consider flying as something superior. And then, the more we fly, the more negatively-overwhelmed we, as a passenger, become. And it shows in our approach, our pseudo-confidence, our way of putting things etc. But all things said & done, it cannot and should not discount the bad behaviour while traveling.

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