Bad manners in the sky

BANGKOK, 20 March 2017: Expedia’s study on Thai airline travellers’ perceptions of good inflight manners hits the nail on the head, but some of the blame for delinquent behaviour should be placed at the boardroom doors of domestic airlines.

Yes, seat-back kickers are animals. They spoil your flight with their fidgety Kung Fu kicks, although I tend to put it down to the absence of breast-feeding when they were cuddly babies. They still think they are infants in a cot kicking the living daylights out of a feeding bottle. Could there be another reason?

Perhaps they are considerably taller than the airline’s arbitrary ruling on the average height of an Asian passenger.

They are not kicking the seat. Their kneecaps are jammed up against the food tray and when they attempt to alleviate the pain they bump their head on the overhead locker, resulting in a flurry of blows to the seat in front.

Airlines are guilty of squeezing us into a B737, or A320 fuselage, like cattle on a journey to market. So if seat- back kicking is on the rise, perhaps it’s a plea for change.

Another sign of bad breeding is when the traveller in front hits the recline button on take-off and falls asleep for the entire trip. Rarely will a flight attendant bother to stir the sleeper even if the passenger behind is suffocating on the contents of their meal tray.

The majority of survey respondents said they would recommend airlines to deactivate the recline feature for short flights. We sit upright on the Number 3 bus as it bounces over potholes and avoids motor bike taxis so why the fuss over a reclining seat on the buses of the sky?

The inability to recline a seat without prompting a riot suggests airlines are mean with leg-room. It’s a version of cattle transport. If an airline could persuade us to lie flat and be stacked in plastic pods three deep  the airline’s  directors would be ecstatic.  Board directors are used to flying horizontality in first-class. So no complaints please from the back-of-the-bus.

But if you can successfully place the typical A4 inflight magazine, length-wise between the edge of your seat and the magazine pocket in the seat in front then you are a very lucky economy-class traveller these days. My efforts suggested the space is usually about 10 centimetres short of an A4 magazine and in the absence of a tape measure I would conclude that is a very meagre allocation of leg room even for a village bus.

It is a complaint that the DCA should look at more closely than capping fare ceilings. Controlling fares is a commercial matter that should be left to airlines, while providing adequate seating space is about promoting  passenger’s comfort and well-being.