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Second class treatment for economy passengers

Aviation is becoming the most racist travel system possible. The label of premium or high yield passenger bestowed upon the business and first class passenger has reduced the economy passenger to a low caste despite all the brouhaha to the contrary.

There is little else that annoys one more than being given short shrift by an airline. Whether they renege on a promise or lose your baggage the fact is that you can't win if they fling clods of indifference at you. And very often they do just that. It is all stacked against you and one of the cruel facts of modern day travel is that the chasm between the promise and the reality widens by the day.

Let me also tell you that after 30 years of writing on the subject things I predict will get worse. Especially for the large anonymous majority in the back of the bus. Contrary to the image that commercial aviation so sedulously spreads through its expensive campaigns the truth is that the bulk of passengers don't count for very much and can be herded. Airlines might cavil about anyone calling their economy section the cattle car but its pretty much how the masses are treated by the system.

For the most part, passengers go zombie-like from point A to point B in a sort of plastic fugue, numbed by the demands made upon them and end their contract with no great breach. It is only when things go wrong that they realise how little clout they have to seek redress and how airlines really don't give a toss if they have reneged on the mutual arrangement. So if you discover that you have been left holding the short end of the stick and you want to seek redress all you will be exhausting is your patience and your time. If you are fortunate you might get a standard format letter informing you that for all the harassment caused to you the airline is investigating the matter.

After you have stopped rolling on the floor with mirth at this ludicrous suggestion (they won't even bother, your case is already history) you might as write it all off to experience and get on with your life.

Ironically, the same sort of cold shoulder does not figure when a high premium passenger has a problem. Airline staff work on the simple premise that if you are travelling economy you can't really be important and, after all, how many complaints can they handle, they wouldn't have time for anything else. Besides, most of the travelling public gets a fair shake and the few casualties that occur by way of service (or lack of it) well, put it down to bad luck. So, if you find yourself ejected from a plane, rejected from the hotel accommodation you deserve, dejected after being treated rudely or just plain subjected to the boorish conduct of people sworn to cup their hands around you and preserve and protect the myth, smile and soldier on because the odds are no one is interested in your plight.

The main offenders by far are ground staff who think they are doing you a favour and drop please and thank you once they deal with economy passengers. Then comes the mess up over special meals and the utter failure to do some ad hoc thinking, sorry, love, just nibble on a lettuce leaf.

Wheelchairs not being in position, an absence of special handling facilities for other handicapped passengers, deliberate refusal to offer hotel accommodation for delayed flights, complete breakdown of special services at major airports and an airline's wonderful ability to wash its hands of all responsibility for the inconvenience caused because one of its flights started the domino principle are some of the more common hassles.

Oh yes, what they are all good at is giving you meal coupons.

Article by Bikram Vohra
Courtesy: Gulf Today

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