I hardly travel as I am in a non-touring job. In fact, i jokingly tell some of my friends/relatives in private sector that they travel more in a fortnight (sometimes in a week) than i do in a year.
Amidst these non-frequent travels, i have jotted down some observations on air-travel which i would like to share. Will more frequent travellers agree or disagree about the same. Lets see.
Availability and price of air tickets. The earlier you book, the cheaper they are. Unfortunately, with work pressure being so hectic nowadays, it is difficult to plan much ahead for travels. One may have to cancel at last minute, but still better go ahead and book the tickets in advance. Even if you need to cancel, still the “damage” will be lesser than buying costly tickets at last minute.
The above is for private travel. For official travel, one normally does not mind as the journey is in public/company interest and cost incurred by the employer. However often the journey has to be taken suddenly and and ticket bought personally. Sometimes there is a gap between personally incurring the expenses and getting it reimbursed. Ideally this gap should be minimised.
Over the years i have observed that the role of the travel agents are decreasing. Nowadays its more convenient to do direct booking and one gets the e-ticket details on cell phone. One also saves the extra cost of travel agent commission etc. Giving the cell number is useful (and mandatory too) as one gets flight updates and so on.
It is advisable to take a print-out of the e-mail sent by the airlines. If one goes to the airport and shows only the SMS received in cell phone, then the CISF Official on duty asks to go to the airline office and take a printout. The cost is Rs 50/- which is Ok as there is no free lunch. However precious time is wasted.
After that one has to face the endless queue to get boarding pass. Travel light, travel safe. If possible travel only with hand baggage so that one can avoid the queue and proceed straight to security check up.
Ideally for a hassle free security clearance, one needs to avoid carrying anything which is in the prohibited list. In my infrequent travels , i have come across so many arguments of passengers with cisf security. However one needs to know that they are doing a job, and that job is to help us only, by ensuring security. Hence its better to cooperate, and comply with rules.
The hand baggage usually goes through the x-ray machine without issues. If the CISF has doubts they keep aside bags and call the passenger to explain. Hence its a good idea to more or less know whats inside your baggage.
I remember once a passenger was carrying food items, and the Cisf official asked what it is. The rude answer was “different kinds of meat, including beef and pork, would u like to taste?” I do not know what the CISF chap did as i had to proceed for Boarding but i remember his furious face and have a feeling the passenger would have been taught a lesson.
Once in the waiting area, one sees wide variety of people. Some frequent types I have invariably seen are as follows;
Phoren returned Indian. Easy to identify, Shorts (Almost always), sports shoes, socks, oversized Tee Shirts (usually). And a distinctive “Betaaaa, sambhal ke” to his kid. The Phoren returned Oriya is even more easily identifiable with his Oriya Accent.
Disclaimer- No criticism here. I respect people with accents because it only means he/she knows one language more.
The In House DeeJay (DJ). Listens loudly to music. and wants everyone to listen too. His earlier favorite was Himmesh Reshammiya, now Mika Pahji has taken over.
“Boss, something called headphones exist or not?”
The Gamer. Plays rocket science level difficult games like Subway surfer or Candy crush with ease. Then looks around , expecting praise and adulation like he has just climbed Mount Everest without oxygen. Do the phones of these intrepid gamers have no Mute button.
Bossy Husband He takes pride in shouting at his wife in public and pointing out to her that he always flies, while she doesnt and hence he should be listened to. Sometimes of course there is a Nagging wife also.
Important Bureaucrat/Company Official. He ensures that he will call someone up at the destination point and “remind” to send vehicle. This ensures that his vehicle reaches and also ensures that others who have to depend on Cab/taxi/public transport have a second look at who is the important person who will have a chauffeur driven car to receive him.
There are others too, but these 5 categories stand out.
One then goes to the aircraft, either in a bus or in the aerobridge. For security reasons i feel that only aerobridge should be there and i think abroad that is the case. Readers may please help me out with information.
Staggered boarding. This is something where i feel we have a long way to go. Self discipline is a must. After all, if one reaches the aircraft seat 10 minutes earlier than other passengers, has an Olympic Gold been won ?
On entering the aircraft one is (usually) greeted by the airhostess and then one proceeds to one’s seat. Sometimes keeping the hand baggage in the overhead space becomes a challenge. It is for instance extremely annoying when one has say a seat in 2nd or 3rd Row, and one has to keep the baggage in 8th row. More so when one is travelling light without checked in baggage. Here too it is a question of self-discipline i guess.
In the aircraft, suddenly almost everyone feels thirsty and request the airhostess for water. This is what i have invariably seen. I wonder why.
After the flight takes off, people settle down. Some with books, some with newspapers, some have work on laptops, some listen to music, some play games ( subway surfer is a big hit, as was angry birds a couple of years ago). Some lucky ones sleep off.
Landing . Many people are tense and one can see silent prayers. Some non-chalently tke pics/videos of the landing. Then the flight lands. Most are in a hurry to open their seat belts , stand up and open the overhead bin to get their luggage, and they ignore the repeated requests of the air hostess “Captain has not switched off the seat belt sign”.
The journey has finally ended. Once again the Important Bureaucrat/Company Official calls up his car to ensure it has come, and to remind all that they have to hunt for taxis.
These are my random musings as an infrequent air traveller. Should i pen my random musings as an infrequent train traveller. I will if u want.