With the summer travel season just past us, the latest thing on social media is to vent or boast about your travel experience.
There was a time when lodging a complaint about travel conditions, whether on a train, plane or hotel required us to fill out forms in triplicate and pledge our ancestral castle before management deigned to look into the matter. Nowadays, you just put it out on your social media page and even if you are not an influencer, you will get enough of a response from strangers who have had similar experiences, that officials will have to do the triple A – Acknowledge, Apologise and Amend. Of course, every airline, whether budget or luxury, is looking to make a fast buck with hidden charges for carry-on luggage or food on board.
One airline found passengers throwing brickbats about their new rule that they could no longer buy just hot beverages in-flight – it had to be a whole package of over-priced cup-noodle snacks plus coffee-tea or nothing. The debate has turned fairly heated now and I wonder if the airline will make amends?
One airline has banished children from what it calls its premium Adult Flights so that passengers choosing to pay extra can be assured of travel without the cacophony of wailing babies and older ones who use the aisles to play Cowboys ’n’ Injuns. Now what they will do to manage undisciplined adults – especially those who TIU (travel under influence of alcohol) – is to be seen. Give me a screaming baby any day over an inebriated adult!
On social media, we also have instant travel heroes and heroines who boast about not giving up their pre-booked, extra charges-paid window or aisle seat for a couple or family that wants to sit together. The story usually mentions glaring co-passengers and rude cabin crew who tried to guilt-trip the super-passenger and how s/he stood firm.
It is projected as a fight for principles against cheapskate passengers who don’t take the trouble to choose seats together and try and muscle their seat selection onto others.
The hidden fact is many visa rules are discriminatory and for some nationalities, the airlines don’t allow online check-in until the passenger shows up and presents visa papers – which means seat selection is tricky. Hold on to your seat by all means but let’s not behave as if this were a fight for the values of humanity.
And finally, my pet dread – pun intended. I am actively indifferent to animals. But would I like to share a pressurised cabin 30,000 feet in the air with a St Bernard or even a yapping Lhasa Apso? No siree. Nowadays, pet owners – sorry, the politically correct term is, I believe, pet parents – can spring the cash for extra seats and carry their pets on board flights with them. The belief is that this is less traumatic for the pets than travelling in a cage in the cargo hold.
Hah! What about my trauma, I ask you?
There are many valid protests to be made and heard about travel. A humane legroom measurement, for example, and fewer passenger crammed into a plane like it were a slave galley?
Just pick your cause and go on-air!