Safety First…. or is it Comfort ?

May 29, 2010

My sincere condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in the tragic plane crash in Mangalore. Certainly, it’s not even closely related to the incident that took place last Saturday. But I knew I had to share this.

It was just two weeks back that I traveled on the Air India Express from Mangalore to Dubai, on the 12th of May, to be precise. The long one and a half hour journey from home to the airport had already made me tired. The moment I boarded the flight all I wanted was a good night’s sleep. But to my disbelief the air conditioner wasn’t working. With my eyes half open I tried to figure out what was going on. I could see all the passengers busy fanning themselves. It still kept me wondering what was wrong. Too tired to call a steward I shut my eyes and went back to sleep again. Or so I tried!

The heat was getting unbearable after some time. Even more annoying was the loud noise coming from the front of the aircraft. Two families with toddlers were busy arguing with ALL the flight attendants with regards to the malfunctioning of the A/C. Again, my eyelids closed with minimal efforts. 

Finally, the plane was about to take off, I could hear all the safety instructions being read out and demonstrated. I have heard it all before and I almost know them by-heart. For sure my sleep was more important to me as I had to resume work the next morning. I could faintly feel the plane moving. OK, correction. It WAS moving and it got became within seconds, thanks to the lousy rattling noise of the wings!

With a totally worried look on my face I opened my eyes. (Was wondering if everything was alright). The person on the other side of the aisle, grinned, or perhaps it was my expressive look that yielded that faint laugh from him. Very honestly, I was recollecting all my loved ones. I was grateful that the two functions I had attended, one from maternal family and the other from the paternal side where I had the opportunity of meeting all possible loved ones. And then I hear the flight attendant literally screaming, “Sir please be seated. MADAM PLEASE FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTs”

The person told me, “woh family paagal hai. Plane take off ho raha hey aur woh khade hein”. I peeped onto the aisle only to see the lady STANDING during the take off with her infant in her hand. Oh yes, the A/c wasn’t working! She perhaps thought standing up would mean, closer to the A/c vent. In no seconds she along with her toddler was walking up and down the aisle!!! The plane still is clearly on the ascent. The two families would just not listen to sit down. Yes I do agree, it was still warm, A/c’s were yet to bring down the temperature inside to normal. I guess safety came second to her, and comfort first. Wasn’t she diverting the attention of the entire crew towards her? What if their attention was needed for a better purpose than merely consoling the ‘hot’ family?

It was a spooky journey for me. As the plane descended and I couldn see Dubai Flower Centre at the same level as the plane, the plane immediately takes off again, this time, sending all the passengers into turmoil.  Was it a hijack? I thought. I had yet another very quick flashback of the great vacation I had and the image of all my loved ones kept displaying on my retina. After another 10 minutes of journey the flight was back into the landing position, giving me a sigh of relief. To those keen on knowing if the two families were seated, NO, the moms were still patrolling the plane!

Switching on the mobile phones as the plane’s front tier reaches the ground, sending SMS’s,  opening the overhead cabins etc., is a common sight among passengers. 

It’s often easy to blame the whole wide world for any mishaps. Probably, that is how the saying “After a crash, if the pilot is alive, nail him. If he is dead, blame him” came into being. As an individual we do ignore the rules and regulations that are put in place for our safety. Perhaps we could be a little more obedient and honest towards our duties and responsibilities… too.

by Luella Serrao, Dubai
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Comment on this article

  • Ash Lewis, UAE

    Tue, Jun 01 2010

    Good article... standing while aircraft takes off, using cell phone, removing bags from hat rack before aircraft parked on bay is heights of irresponsibility. Father talks about doing anything to solve the AC problem would put his, kids and others life into risk if he had fallen inside if flight had turbulence problems. There are few safety rules to be followed you were lucky you travel by AI or any other airline would put a big fine or even return to base land back for misbehavior and pay for it.
    If the AC was not ok in their car for sure he would not removed his belts off since he knew he would get a ticket from cops.
    Some rush into the aircraft as if their seats are not reserved.

  • Dr Kiran Acharya, Manipal

    Tue, Jun 01 2010

    Was the crash due to Cellphone use? It is a possibility.
    1. Cellphones interfere with navigational aids
    2. Ringing phones on the dead bodies, proof that cellphones were active

  • Steven Lobo, Sasthan/Bangalore

    Mon, May 31 2010

    Hey Luella,
    Great Article i must say, no matter what some people(who commented above otherwise) think, but it is necessary we follow the safety matter how sophisticated these carriers are, they are just machines without any brains, and if human beings(so-called creatures with brains)do not do what is required for safety, no use blaming the machines....

    anyhow wud like to say... Great Stuff here Savi ..... loved the article ....

  • Lavina, B'lore

    Mon, May 31 2010

    I agree with you Naveen. But I think the bigger bags are taken from the passengers just before boarding the flight and sent into the luggage section.

  • Anita, M'lore/Dubai

    Mon, May 31 2010

    I agree upon passengers not following safety precautions. I beleive that if a rule is put in place, it has to be followed. Else, dont go that route. And I liked it that for a change, we are not blaming the authorities but are willing to take responsibilities for our actions. RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS - where are they???

    As for the family, I am sorry about ur conditions, but due to rough weathers, if the plane would move around a bit (like an immediate break in a car), the mother would fall due to imbalance, thereby the toddler would fall and the damage would be worse. The toddler, or the mother may fall on another person - chain reaction.

    I dont see how standing up has helped the mother or the child. Also, I'm not sure how the crew could help.

    Diverting all attention to self, may not be fair what if another passenger had other issues? How would that passenger get help?

    I'm glad you've raised these security issues. Hope people would be more careful and more responsible in the future.

  • Kate, Mangalore

    Mon, May 31 2010

    The author, though trying to talk on 'Safety First' has criticised our national carrier indirectly like 'lousy rattling noise of the wings!' etc. I have travelled twice from M'lre to Kwt and never found the Aircraft old. Have travelled on many airlines like Jazeera, KU, EK, GF etc and as Amrit Rodrigues said, have faced the racist attitude. The Aircrafts used by KU are the worst ones, old model with broken seats, broken armrest etc. All one needs to do is just pray for a safe journey, keep yourself in the Hands of our Lord and keep your hearts clean.

  • Naveen Shetty, Mangalore

    Mon, May 31 2010

    What about the extra baggage which people carry when they travel to Mangalore? I have heard from my friends that most of them buy all the items such as chocolates, milk powder, perfumes other cosmetic items in the duty free so that they can carry additional baggage than eligible. I think they think the place is 'Omayanna's lorry (of Gurpur where we used to load and stuff vegitables to take to the market) which carry goods from budger to various places. AIE should introduce the final hand baggage check before boarding the flight and any excess luggage in excess of permitted limits should be offloaded in the interest of the all the people travelling. This might have been one of the reasons for the recent accident in Mangalore

  • Neil Rodrigues, Mangalore / london

    Sun, May 30 2010

    You all just love pulling out your inkless pen when a tragedy happens to come out with your own conclusions...

    This is the reason, thats the mistake, he is responsible, government should go! and what not!

    Certain aircrafts dont keep the ACs on full on the ground for some internal reasons (in cities like MLR, this can be painful and also where people think Air Conditioners supply oxygen only when they cool")

    Second, Mobile phones may have an impact on radio comms however, this hasnt been proved...certainly with the newer aircrafts this is almost impossible as the instruments are insulated from receiving Noise!

    i wouldnt be suprised to see comments like shut the airport, change the government, ban boeing etc....

    MLR Airport is built by industry standards and can handle a midsized jet like a 737 without a problem...
    its a known fact...accepted and approved... so can we change this speculation topic!

    And btw... one needs to pray everywhere not just while you are travelling on Air India! (i find the Air India service better than British Air! and am not kidding!)

  • Shawn, Mangalore / Doha

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Good article Luella. I sincerely hope after this tragic incident, passengers will take safety instructions more seriously and refrain from using cell phones and laptops on board the flight.

    Heartfelt sympathies to the families who lost their loved ones. Your loss is unmeasurable.

  • Ivan, Mangalore/UAE

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Dear Miss Sharmila and all the passengers of Air India Express( who are scared to travel)...if u all see anyone using mobile phones inside the plane... add this prayer to ur Hail Mary n I Believe.... Sasnacho Vishev dee AMKAM, sorvespora deva, ani niranthar prakaas AMCHER fankondi....
    I suggest airport authorities to educate the passengers abt the problems faced by the pilot due to mobile phone usage.If anyone found using mobile in the plane shoud be fined heavily.

  • Ronald, Mangalore

    Sun, May 30 2010

    I agree with the Author. Safety comes first that too when you have an infant with you. Imagine the risk of standing with holding the infant during the take off and landing. Afterall take-off / landing takes only few minutes. And what is the hurry for those who send sms in the flight? They should use mobile only after flight came to a complete halt.

  • amrit rodrigues, indian

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Its a pity, Indians have to look down upon what their own country has to provide. We will willing sit in a dirty EK or GF flight happily enjoying the racist attitude meted out by the stewardesses, but will throw a tantrum at the slightest provocation when it comes to AI. Even with no overflowing oil like the gulf countries, our nation has come to be self sufficient in its production and consumption patterns, something we fail to recognise.We are satisfied working as slaves to oil merchants and the white man in the west, as second class citizens, but when it comes to our own country, the criticality with which we pursue its policies is unparalleled. OUR COUNTRY CAN BE ONLY AS GOOD AS OUR COUNTRYMEN, its not the landmass that counts,but the vision of its inhabitants...pity my countrymen enjoy bashing their own country.

  • Vicky, Udupi / Dubai

    Sun, May 30 2010

    There is a funny and pathetic outlook among many countrymen when they travel by national carrier. They suddenly think that they are entitled to irrational behavior and vitriolic exuberance. "I will behave any which way I can, because its the damned Air India!" seems to be attitude. Even educated people behave like morons. Then we blame the stewards... who have clearly given up after scores of brush-ins with such retards. In the bargain hapless fellow-passengers suffer silently and poor national carrier gets the bad name. Clearly we have a few good lessons to learn in being honorable citizen and give example to the children who travel with us. How long are we going to compromise the air safety and re-inforce the negative image of our carriers?

  • Lavina, Bajpe/Dubai

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Dear Serrao, I too was in the same flight, traveling back to Dubai. The commotion on the flight was too much. Also halfway through the journey, the couple with kids/infants had a fight with the cabin crew for almost 20 minutes. And yes, when the flight was about to land, it just took off suddenly, just kept wondering why.

  • Rency, Mangalore

    Sun, May 30 2010

    i don't think toddler or families can endanger a flight security... they can disturb the crew and passengers though as it seems to have annoyed and disturbed the writer's sleep...

    Usage of phones, flight technical faults, non-functioning ACs, inexperienced crew and flight personnel can prove fatal though..

    i strongly detest the use of words such as "pagal" for the distressed family in the Article (even if it is under third person's pretext).. my heart goes out to the kid's will be heart breaking for her to read such article and would love to see an apology from the writer and Daijiworld for using such abusive language (while they themselves set the disclaimer for comments section)...Thank you.

  • Len Lasrado, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Sun, May 30 2010

    I fully agree with Mr. Anil Pinto & Ms Luella Serrao.
    What I strongly feel is, all the Mobiles should be collected from the passengers ( with a tag name of the owner written on it so that it doesn't reach the wrong hands)before Take-off & be given back to their respective owners only on landing. Y not try this for the safety of the passengers,the crew & the Aircraft?

  • Len Lasrado, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Sun, May 30 2010

    I fully agree with Mr. Anil Pinto & Ms Luella Serrao.
    What I strongly feel is, all the Mobiles should be collected from the passengers ( with a tag name of the owner written on it so that it doesn't reach the wrong hands)before Take-off & be given back to their respective owners only on landing. Y not try this for the safety of the passengers,the crew & the Aircraft?

  • Ashish, Dubai

    Sun, May 30 2010

    How many accidents do you think have happened in the past resulting from a toddler or a parent standing in the aisle? Guess not even one.... i think you want to blame the family because your sleep that night got disturbed... and you are thankful to the crew and the pilot for at least getting you safe on the ground...if only you would have written about your experience of the Dubai landing alone before the incident happened in Mangalore.. u need help...

  • Anil Pinto, Mumbai/Abu Dhabi

    Sun, May 30 2010

    I agree that as passengers we too have a responsibilty towards the crew and aircraft in general. But I can only imagine the plight of the passengers without a functional AC. I've been in a similar situation an an Air India flight and believe me its a horrific experience, especially if you are travelling with children. Sitting inside a closed aircraft without proper ventillation is pure torture - and i think the airline has a responsibility to avoid such situations - which can in-turn can lead passengers to behave irrationally.

  • IvanFernandes, mangalore

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Hi Luella,
    Do want me to commend you for such a worthless story.
    You wanted to sleep in the flight, you must be joking. If you can afford you can take an Emirates Airline from Bangalore, then you can think about it.

    “woh family paagal hai. Plane take off ho raha hey aur woh khade hein”.

    I am the man of the family. .
    For your information, all my family members aware of the safety procedures in an aircraft and it is not the first time i am travelling with the kids.
    After reading your article my observation is, like everyone you also wanted to write about Air India Express and about the accident, without getting your facts right.
    As a father of 18 months old baby, struggling to breath, I would have done anything and everything possible. I defiantly don’t mind if someone calls me ‘paagal’ for that reason. But , you are trying to get some mileage writing about my family trauma on board.

  • Frequent Flier, Mangalore

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Dear Luella Serrao,
    I guess its a waste of your time writing such articles. Because we are the kind of people who will not learn from our mistakes. We will still be proud of putting others life in danger. Just upon touching down the runway, we have to send SMS or call our loved ones, what if they ran away thinking we have not arrived. Who on earth cares about the safety, my SMS to my loved ones comes first.
    Hmmmm....i dont think this attitude of ours is about to change unless we are blasted at by the cabin crew for breaking the safety rules. Sadly we will still put others life in danger by patrolling the walkway and switching on our mobile phones.

  • veena, Dubai

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Dear Luella,
    I hope you are a mother or you will be one someday! Only then you would understand the plight of the mother on board on air India Express on 12th May.

    How would you understand the problem of the child or the mother while you were half asleep? while i do not justify that one should stand with your child when the flight is ready to take off...tell me,would your mind work when your toddler who is already having a health complication is getting breathless in your arms? and none of the crewmembers are cooperating?

    I wish when you travel the next time you will not be half asleep and try to help fellow mangaloreans who might have a problem. After all...Mangaloreans are allways ready to help each other.What do you think???

  • Sharmila, Sastan/Abu-Dhabi

    Sun, May 30 2010

    Good article Luella, eveyone who travels in Air Inida Express almost experience the same.One or the other problems, but at the end AI is our nations pride and for mangaloreans like us have no other choice. Everytime when i travel, i dont know how many time i mutter "3 Hail Mary's" and "I Believe".

  • PKS, Abudhabi

    Sat, May 29 2010

    I do agree with you. we indian have not bothered about the safety. switching on the mobile phone, opening the overhead lockers are a common sight in india flight. even before the doors open, people get up and block the aisle.

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