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Friday, November 19, 2010


For Airline travelers today, delays,queues and overcrowded terminals are unfortunately no longer an exception; they are generally the RULE!!!. Due to a variety of converging circumstances, this problem has progressively worsened in the last 5 years, affecting passenger satisfaction,security and safety risks.

An official inquiry into the Mangalore plane crash in May that killed 158 people has concluded that pilot error was to blame. Details leaked to the media showed that the senior pilot of the Air India Express flight, was in 'sleep inertia' – he had been asleep for much of the flight and then made critical errors because he was disoriented when the plane began its descent - approaching the runway at Mangalore at the wrong angle, and ignoring warnings from his co-pilot to abort the landing and try again.The plane, a two-year-old Boeing 737, overshot and burst into flames after crashing into a ravine!!!

Further media debated the fact that some pilots are over worked and tired ,hence they sleep on board whilst flying!!!!

I remember that cold day less than a week ago as I walked down the endless rows of furniture in the new Terminal -3 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport , Delhi.I was oblivious to the sounds of the screaming commuters around me.All that was on my mind was anticipation, a little hope, and a checkbook in my pocket that seemed to weigh so heavy despite the lack of funds it represented! I was rushing to board a connecting flight to Bangalore within 15 minutes of landing at  the International terminal!!! I missed the flight!

The additional security measures have contributed to creating bottlenecks at almost every contact point a passenger must pass through. From check-in to boarding the plane, a passenger's every task has been lengthened.I paid the price!!

To add to my woes once I boarded,the Cabin crew?...Aren't they ever tired? Are they not over worked? Guess not!!
In the initial ‘honeymoon’ period, the opportunity to travel, to see the world and to meet a wealth of differing peoples and cultures contributes to the perceived ‘glamour’ of the role. The opportunity to escape the routine of many ground-based jobs adds to this attraction. Realities such as a lack of control of lifestyle, being away from family and friends and the difficulties in planning ahead, could begin to deflate the glamour ‘bubble.’ The physical implications of the job, such as compounded sleep deprivation, bathing in make up,jet-lag and dehydration can also take their toll!!!

“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane”said the Air Hostess…or was it?

During travel, of the various thoughts occupying our minds, flight attendants usually are not it!..Unless they do something abnormally nice, obnoxiously rude or posses aisle traffic stopping good looks!or if they actually Scare you!!!

The voice that reverberated was that  a Scare Hostess!! Instead of an Air hostess!!! The"senior" flight attendant said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."In case of a drop in cabin pressure,masks will descend from the ceiling….Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

The flight attendant aboard the Air India flight was continuing the safety speech and said, "The button over your head with the picture of a light bulb on it turns on your light, the button with the picture of the flight attendant does NOT turn on your flight attendant so DON'T PUSH IT!"

Air India Staff is not as well paid as we might be lead to believe. They also have similar long shifts as doctors, with night duties and no regular weekend holidays. Then there is the added pressure of maintaining your appearance and controlling your weight unless you are “grounded”.

I had encountered a new breed of reluctant hostesses, the “Scare Hostesses” who are over worked, under paid and have smiled way past the Forged Smile Authenticity Guidelines!!

 I had also done my fair share of ignoring unless I was hungryor thirsty. Somehow as the threshold is passed from economy to the executive class the level of mannerisms between the passengers and the Scare Hostess seemed to transcend from restrained politeness to attention, concern and courtesy.

This emotion is obviously also feigned, but the acting is far superior, just like the cost of the ticket!!...By the way I had paid a whopping fare to fly to Bangalore!

I was about to fall asleep, when the loud sound of a middle aged woman talking across the aisle to some girls woke me up along with half of the plane!! On a late night flight all you wish for is some sleep on the plane.Since the woman was much older to me in age, I called our Scare Hostess and asked her if she could politely ask this lady to keep her voice down, since many like me were trying to sleep!! Guess what happens next….

The salwar clad woman sitting next to me popped her head out after the air hostess left and told me that it is very nice and considerate of me to point that out. I just shrugged and admitted my sole personal interest. At which she told me, but this happens on many flights, our passengers lack basic manners and need to be reminded time and again… I asked, if she was a frequent traveler, to which she told me that she was actually -A Scare Hostess herself!!!!

I found this quite interesting since I had never had a chance to talk to a Scare Hostess before. Pointing towards her dupatta I asked her why she covered her haed..She shyly smiled and told me she did it because frequent travelers recognize scare hostesses even when they are not on duty and traveling in a personal capacity!! I realized the similar celebrity hazards this woman faced, as she recounted tales of passionate love declarations on the plane, and stalker situations.!!.

As the pilot hammered the plane into the runway really hard….  I realized that for me the journey had ended, but this plane had to go back along with all the crew but new passengers and new stories!

 Finally, everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane.  She asked me Beta, mind if I ask you a question?' Why no Ma'am',  I said 'What is it', the little old lady said, 'Did we land or were we Shot down?' Lol!

Lingering thoughts haunt me of a Scare Hostess in bed with her spouse!.... Guess she would tell him. "Put it over your nose and mouth and continue to breath normally."


  1. Oh my god ur an born writer.
    N let me
    tell u if I was looking fr an ghost for my memorabilia it would be u n unwilling n maturally u will turn my mundane dull like
    ditch water into rosy dynamic rollercoster ride for the readers.
    N to be more honest with u as an true critc friendly to the core
    the heading gives an meaning if an lady pilot that to an aged lady usally aunty in a cockpit means so.
    I belive u say bottlenecks security cost of travel unmammered copassengers delays this means we Ar discussing of air travel.
    So shall blog of old ladies in suits and cap or that overworked scare blondes who instrct they patners the rules of flight of fantasies.
    And one more thing plz rebound in our blog to make it more modratable and the conclusion is arrived at.
    But still u will be stlll be my ghost writer but dear do pen on me
    not on my family n hope that my review has been unhautful.
    Urs as before SARJEEV YADAV.

  2. SCARE HOSTESS!!!I love that term.Once when i flew from bangalore to pune Jet airways if i remember right,the airhostess,a young nubile one,asked me if i would care for lunch.I glanced at my watch and saw it was 11.45 am,and said,after half an hour.She very politely told me flying time is 75 minutes and that i did not have a choice but to have it right then!!!I,out of curiousity and bewilderment,asked her why the query,and,she,with a very broad smile,said company policy was to ask the question as a rule!!Another instance was Lufthansa to Germany.I had downed a couple of scotches and asked for another when the airhostess asked me whether i could it hold it in as a few indians had thrown up in the plane after pouring down quite a few as drinks are free!!!Air india,i have noticed has the most overworked and tired hostesses,company policy i guess!!Pity them though as i have seen quite a few unruly passengers behave very badly and the pressures must be huge!!!

  3. Mata Ushy Khusy Ananda I loved your blog post.

    In reference to Air India, lemme tell you one incident in short. Some months back I had bought a ticket of the airline for coming to Bombay from Calcutta. But when I reached their boarding pass terminal in Calcutta airport, I was informed there is no seat available. The flight is already full. I couldnt understand the logic but kept my cool and earnestly requested them. But there were many others who became very angry with the airline people. There was hell lot of shouting going on. After some time one airline personnel took me aside and told "Mr. Banerjee, here is your boarding pass. You are the only one fortunate. Now pls leave for the security chk before others take note." A good request some times work wonders. some times..

    Btw I liked the last line of your post the most :P

  4. Your empathy lead compassion is made so touching thanks to your writing skill and talent exuding a kind of peace at heart.

    I liked ur writing style and flow. Enjoyed reading ur blog. The scare hostess made me laugh.
    Keep going. Best wishes.

  6. Great post... But experience with air-hostesses have been good ;-)

    I guess I dont expect much from them.. Sorta used to their fake smile. Most of the time I fly jet, and the experience has been good.

    A stray memory.. A year back me and my mom were flying from Pune to Goa, there was this air-hostess.. who was polite and graceful.. my mom liked her so much so.. that she considered her has potential "bahu" :-D

    My mom wanted to ask her, whether she is single... I stopped her... :P

  7. hey you are a wonderfull writer,so simple way telling the story.... dont have to think over and over again............hope to make a movie over one of your story..........good luck

  8. You have what it takes to connect ..............
    Keep up the good work

  9. Hilarious....Gasping for breath...

  10. "Put it over your nose and mouth and continue to breath normally." hahahaha, I can so picture that. Write on Rockstar! Keep 'em coming :-)

  11. Hey Usha!
    Grandiloquent Verbose on 'Mile High'niggles... (commendations on your literary skills are passe by now , so shall save them for yet another masterpiece) !

  12. ma'am it is such a well written blog. not only because ur way of putting in lil hilarious elements, pun in a serious content but also because it's a beautiful flow of thoughts. thats imp.
    i suggest that u shud think of taking up column writing more regularly.