I hate to start off my "return to Singapore" posts on a bad note, but I feel that this should not be left unsaid.
April 6, 2013 saw the Little One and I at the NAIA Terminal 3, waiting to board our plane back to Singapore. It was a sunny day and we were, so far, having an enjoyable time. Having extended our trip to the Philippines for 2 more months, we were still feeling the effects of our vacation but were also excited to see the Husband again after a long separation.
Check-in and immigration procedures were a breeze, with everything going as smoothly as possible (I have to admit I was quite anxious as this would have been the first time my daughter and I would be traveling by plane together by ourselves, with neither the Paternals nor the Husband to assist us.) Eventually my daughter and I settled in at our designated departure area waiting for the on-boarding call.
A Surprising Occurrence
It just so happened that our flight got cancelled. And with the Little One getting restless as it was (waking up at 4:30 a.m. would do that to you too), I did the best I could and got her into a more comfortable position for a short nap.
As the minutes ticked by, it seemed that my other co-passengers were getting restless as well. So when the ground crew finally announced on-boarding procedures (after an hour's delay), I was more than ready to head on to the front with my very cranky toddler so we could settle in for the flight home.
Alas! It was not meant to be, for as soon as boarding calls were announced, all the "able-bodied" passengers rushed to the front of the lines, disregarding the announcement for "passengers with small children and the elderly first."
Such was my shock that I literally sat back down again. There was no way I would surge through that jam of people with my baby in my arms (plus a huge backpack to boot). I looked around me, to those who also decided to stay behind than rush on with the rest, and to my surprise, found that all the elderly passengers and their families, too, thought it wise to stay behind (I was the only passenger with a baby.) Oh! Plus a foreign couple who also followed protocol.
I am thankful, though, for the ground personnel who provided us with more assistance than necessary. They apologized for the mad rush and seemed quite annoyed that my co-passengers all were rude enough to have disregarded protocol. I still hope they would do a better job of controlling the mob next time.
It took a while for the line to move but after an additional 20(!) minutes, my daughter and I were finally seated. But if I thought our troubles ended there, I thought wrong.
Reserved Seating Should be For Those Who Need It Most!
My daughter and I were informed initially upon check-in that we would be placed in row 2, a seat behind the front, which based on my experience was usually reserved for passengers traveling with young children and the elderly (it being blessed with more leg room). Taking it to mean that the favored seats might have already gone to other needy passengers, I agreed and went on without a word (it was a budget airline anyway with a small aircraft. I chalked it up for late timing on my part then.)
But imagine my surprise when I saw the people occupying the front row: 3 foreign men and 3 Filipinas; all able-bodied, non-child carrying passengers! And here the Little One and I were stuck at the next row, squeezed tight .
I do would have to give the airline carrier credit, though. We were not placed beside any other passengers so we had the whole row to ourselves. Whether it was done intentionally or it was our luck that the people seated next to us decided not to catch their flight, I was still a little grateful. But it still would have been great, and proper, if those seats in front were given to those who really needed them, though.
Airline Etiquette 101
I try to understand that my fellow passengers are tired of the wait and were anxious to get on-board, but couldn't they have been more civil and gave those who needed more space and special attention a little more consideration?
Traveling with a baby, or with an elderly person, is no laughing matter, folks! It's hard, extremely exhausting, and nerve racking. We who have the additional responsibility of watching over young children and the elderly while on flight need not only care for ourselves, but for another human being who have much greater needs and limited ability to meet those needs than us.
Wouldn't it have killed you to be responsible, or simply KIND, enough to wait a few more minutes to ensure the comfort of those who have the added stress of flying, too? This also goes to all those people who block the way in malls/other public places, not minding the people with huge bags on their hands trying to pass them over. To those who think that parking in the handicapped zone is fine since there won't probably be someone who'll need it anytime soon. You give yourself reasons to be selfish and lazy for the inconvenience of others!
So please, the next time you see someone who clearly needs help, be considerate and don't hesitate to provide assistance. It won't hurt a bit, I promise.