Sunday, September 26, 2004

In Flight Entertainment

Today I traveled after a couple of months and was looking forward to watching a good movie on my flight on route. So I settled myself into my seat and after going through the program guide decided to watch Kill Bill Vol. 2. Only the take off and the distribution of the headsets stood between me and the movie. Having missed the movie in theatres, I was quite looking forward to watching it.

A bunch of tourists excitedly took photographs of each other on the flight. One amongst them, a girl, squealing in delight with every photograph she took, at times carrying 4 cameras together, juggling them and taking the same snap again and again. Why couldn’t they just take prints and share them later? The squealing continued for quite some time. And not a single member of the crew in sight. Where are they when they need to get people like this to settle down?

The plane took off. The luggage compartment overhead opened and stuff started trickling out. The air hostess stared, with her mouth open. Everyone was glued to the overhead compartment, as if rabbits were going to start jumping out of it. The plane was at 45 degrees and I decided to do something about it. I started standing up to shut it, but my seatbelt restrained me. Now the air hostess was staring at me. As I moved my hand down to release the seat belt, the air hostess tried to tell me to stay seated. While stuff was tumbling down. I opened the belt, reached up and closed the overhead compartment, in the background of the air hostesses whimpering. Then I settled back into my seat. Everyone went back to what they were doing. And then another one behind me opened. Pop. And I sniggered.

Shortly later, I realized I was sitting next to 2 video game junkies. They hit the in flight entertainment games as soon as the safety announcements were over. Banging away on the handset and making faces you would have never imagined. Soon, the seats started shaking along with the banging of the handset and both heads bobbing up and down to the videogame. In rhythm. Obscene.

I decided to ignore them by plugging my headset in and turning the volume to full. But nothing seemed to be streaming into my right ear. So I got myself another headset. Just in time for the movie to start. Gosh, I had so been looking forward to watching this movie.

And it started. Uma Thurman. Right up to the wedding rehearsal scene and the entry of Michael Madsen. And then pop. The screen went blank. And there were voices. I thought it was one of Quentin Tarantino’s effects. But then it carried on for long. The set had moved itself to the audio section. Puzzled, I reset it and back I was. Uma approaching Michael. And then pop. I was watching Godsend. In Mandarin. I shook my head and tired to change channels. Nothing happened. Suddenly I was watching Raising Helen. Arrgh. I called the air hostess to help. She couldn’t figure it out. Mumbled something about resetting the system and disappeared. 5 such instances later and channels changing themselves again and again, I landed up with The Stepford Wives. In Mandarin. And completely ticked off with the flight and the fact that I was not going to watch the movie today.

Then I decided to take them to task. Called the head steward and complained to him. After which I asked for a written compliant form. Then these guys got into action. Offering me a new seat. A manual reset to the channel I wanted and the works. But the flight was ninety minutes through and the movie was probably reaching the point where Bill was getting killed. I didn’t want to see that without watching the journey leading to Bill. I politely declined and asked for the complaint form.

I was going to be entertained on this flight come what may.

After much heartburn, finally it was handed to me. I proceeded to write a two page long complaint on the whole incident, detailing everything, sprinkling it with my imagination to make it more interesting. Then I sealed it and handed it over to the air hostess. And finally I was smiling. Smug.

Moments passed.

Then the head steward came over and tried to explain the situation to me. How he had thoroughly investigated the matter. How the air hostess was new, this was her second flight and she did not have responsiveness of an experienced air hostess. How it slipped the other air hostesses mind because she was caught up in the food service. Then explanations on how it takes 20 minutes to reset the system. How they did it for me twice without my knowing it. How sorry they were.

And me giving short replies on how I never expected such bad service from them, how frequently I flew with them, how this was my worst experience, how disappointed I was with them. All very politely. All well rehearsed in my mind and prepared beforehand. One by one, the air hostesses who had served me, listened to my problems and done nothing about it. Profusely apologizing. Trying to explain. And I kept looking, listening, smiling and nodding. Giving understanding responses, knowing very well that the complaint form was going to screw them.

Here I was getting my own version of Kill Bill. Emotional violence via customer un-satisfaction. Satisfaction via un-satisfaction. How ironic. Now everyone was worried. Running around like headless chickens. And me getting my private show. Priceless. Even the video game junkies had stopped their games and were enjoying the show.

Ten minutes before the flight was to land, I called the head steward sternly. He looked grim and worried. I asked him to get my complaint form back. He stared at me, but couldn’t say no after what I had been through. He got it back for me. I took it from him, and slowly proceeded to tear it up. He kept looking at me. I smiled and slowly started laughing. He also broke into laughter. The air hostesses around and the video junkies too. Soon everyone around who had been witness to the whole thing were laughing.

I had entertained and been entertained.


Jem Finch said...

Good one :)

. : A : . said...

Jem Finch - Thanks!

sneha said...

thx for another smile.

. : A : . said...

sneha - You're welcome!