December 7th was International Civil Aviation Day.
Most of the economically poor have not stepped into an aircraft. The exceptions are seasonal migrants to a developed country for work or those who get taken by NGOs for exposure visits.
For them, flight is both a source of excitement and agony.
Inside the airport, all the announcement boards are in English. The people who check them in speak to them in English - a language which they do not know. So do the crew members. There is no training on how to use an escalator. Their check-in bags pale in comparison to the bags used by the economically rich - and they get condescending looks. They are not informed in advance that they can only carry on one piece of hand baggage, and, at times, may have to part with one bag. In the aircraft, they are not a welcome fellow sitter. It is not uncommon to find that they are discriminated against in crew service.
i) Treat all passengers as equal clients.
ii) Make all the announcement boards pointing to services and gates available in local languages and English.
ii) Those at the front desk and crew members should know the regional language as well as English.
iii) Keep low cost closable bags available.
iv) Make fares dependent on income, but more than train fare for a comparable distance.
v) Keep a complaint box at the airport and in planes.
By Ranjani K. Murthy Image credit: Justin Langille