Monday 9 April 2007

Irksome airport landings

Baggage handling

Despite all the automation and technology involved in baggage handling at airports, the end of the chain still requires the man-handling of luggage to and from the cargo hold of planes.

Sometimes I have looked from inside the plane how bags get thrown, dumped or dropped, even with the occasional panicky official who has just noticed some baggage is about to leave on the wrong plane.

There was one instance, a suitcase was dropped a good 2 metres from the belt to the ground, I could say I felt ever bit of that drop and the possible consequences, as 7 years ago when the mishandling of my luggage by a no-frills airline had my laptop in pieces. I have not done no-frills since that episode.

The herd embarks

What really gets to me is the herd mentality of boarding and disembarking from a plane, the way people rush to get on considering we all have pre-assigned seats, people with seats in the aisles what to be on first and then discomfited by passengers with window seats, as if getting on early means you get to the destination faster.

Keep seat belts fastened ignored

Then on landing, as the aircraft taxies to a gate, the seat belt fastened lights are still on and some cretin gets up to open the overhead lockers to get his stuff, at which time other members of the cretin club get up to do the same whilst the plane is yet to come to a complete standstill.

At one time the cabin crew had to bark the order for all to sit down and fasten their seat belts. One wonders how getting up first to get your stuff is going to help you get out of the airport first when a majority of luggage is checked in, though I would not be surprised if some had also checked in their brains and with their manners, consideration and smartness.

Then just as the plane comes to a halt, lights still warning to keep seat belts fastened, they still get up and open the lockers grab their stuff and the wait standing for possibly 5 to 10 minutes before they are able to disembark and there is no way they would get their stuff from baggage reclaim any earlier than those who have been patient to get off the plane gracefully.

Mobiles off planes

It looks like impatience and stupidity vying for prominence in their heads.

Beyond that, there is that other herd stampede that occurs the moment we arrive, all mobile phones go off and everyone is calling arranging meets, dinner, coffees and so on, all these can wait till they are out in the arrival lounge but the fact that too many people are complete addicts to information and slaves of electronic communication; it is a blessing that a flight still has the sanctity of a mobile phone free zone even though the science of not using mobile phones on planes is suspect.

Methinks mobile phones should be checked in and not allowed in hand luggage though there are other security consequences for that, the rule to keep them switched off completely is good enough for me, it should be extended to say they should never be switched on in a plane.

In fact, the plane should be a Faraday Cage of sorts which is let down only in emergencies.

Kids at play

The final peeve is at baggage reclaim, what has been checked in is probably quite heavy luggage, but then you find that kids are allowed to run around the baggage belt and stand in the way of bigger people who really know their business about standing there.

In some cases, there is a complete lapse in discipline; the kids get on the belt, in one case the kid was pulling off stuff twice his size and the rotten parents proudly looked on at the initiative of their devil kid.

In exasperation, just before the kid gets mangled in the conveyor belt mechanism, one helps giving a look that could kill the parents only that the result of their deaths might leave one the guardian of an orphaned devil kid - one cannot live with that.

Once out of the airport, the relief that one has been separated from these crazy people is the joy of being on holiday or having returned to home sweet home.

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