What We Take for Granted As Frequent Air Travelers
By: Roy Berger, MedjetAssist President/CEO
We all travel. That’s why we carry the Medjet card.
To a large degree, we probably take airline safety and protocol for granted. When is the last time you listened to every word of the safety debrief before takeoff? It’s okay, admit it.
However, when you board a flight in Vietnam, it’s not necessarily like hopping aboard United, Delta or American and assuming your fellow passengers are as experienced in flight as you are.
According to BusinessWeek, only one in five of Vietnam’s 90 million citizens has flown. So that has created what the aviation industry believes is a great future market, fueling the growth of Vietnamese discount airlines. So, the next time you take that flight from Hanoi to Haiphong, you may encounter this:
–The farmer from a village on the outskirts of Hanoi taking his first flight. Somehow he wound up in the emergency exit row. Just prior to take-off, he decided he needed to use the rest room. Figuring that’s what ’emergency’ on the emergency exit door meant, he opened the door and activated the evacuation slide. A three hour delay ensued, setting off a chain reaction of delays throughout the entire VietJet Air system. Seemingly that became enough time for everyone on-board to use the restroom. The farmer was fined $687, but reportedly was excused from the fine after he proved he lived below the nation’s poverty line. We can only assume he didn’t pay a seat upgrade charge to get into the exit row.
–The exit row novice seems to be a real headache for the country’s airlines. There was a 61 year old Vietnam Airlines passenger, another farmer, who last April was getting warm and opened the emergency exit door to get some air. This has also happened recently on China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines.
–VietJet now stations flight attendants and airline personnel outside the cabin’s restrooms, as a good portion of flyers have no idea how to lock the restroom door.
— On a regular basis, flyers remove the life jackets from under their seats and leave the plane with them, assuming it’s included in the cost of a ticket.
It almost sounds comical but it’s not. In-country Vietnam airlines are now offering martial arts training to both cabin and ground staff to try and deter the recent situations where airline employees were both slapped and kicked by customers who didn’t like being told their carry-on luggage exceeded weight limits. One can only imagine how big the bags were!
According to BusinessWeek, airlines have also trained staff in the proper use of plastic handcuffs and tape to bind unwanted aggression by passengers. And you thought boarding group #4 on Delta was rough.
The next time you complain about your most recent Southwest Airlines flight where the baby sitting behind you wouldn’t stop crying, how would you feel if passengers boarded your next flight carrying helmets in their hands and one one of them took the middle seat right next to you.
It seems that has become an indication in the Vietnamese airline system that a passenger is taking their first flight. Right before landing, the nervous flier straps the helmet on their head to get ready for impact.
Some things you just can’t make up!