From sighing at entitled passengers to losing your seat belt, we all have business class bug bears. And that’s at the best of times. When flying during a pandemic that tension is tripled, with even the most minor mishap potentially making blood boil.
Of course, to a degree, with a pandemic in full swing, community spirit has also soared. In line with 2020’s pronounced hygiene concerns, most people are pulling together.
There is still one area we can improve on though and that is disembarking. As a video by business class blogger Zach Griff, posted in August, shows, one pet peeve appears to still be firmly in place: passengers standing up as soon as the plane lands.
Not only is this irritating at the best of times, but many are aggrieved to see it happen during a pandemic.
In the below video, Mr. Griff urged airlines to fix this phenomenon.
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“The pandemic has caused airlines to rethink many elements of the travel journey. But in the video above, you’ll see the one major social distancing challenge I’d like to see airlines fix — deplaning,” Mr. Griff wrote.
“On both of my recent flights, passengers popped right up when they heard the ‘chime,’ despite repeated announcements to stay seated… Not sure exactly what airlines can do about it, but it needs to be addressed.”
On that note, DMARGE spoke to Australian Wellness Ambassador for Etihad, Kiara Graham, who stepped up to her role in June (“I’ve undergone special training to ensure I’m across all the latest travel information and updates”) to seek an industry perspective on this issue.
Even though the above video (and the phenomenon in general) has mostly been observed on US domestic flights, Graham still had some savvy words on the phenomenon – which DMARGE, pre pandemic, has noticed on many international flights too.
“As you can imagine, with constantly changing Government regulations and advice, there is a lot to be across. Each week I do online refreshers and new courses to keep up to date with the latest developments,” Graham told DMARGE, speaking about the general nature of her role.
As for the ‘chime crime’ of impatiently standing up upon arrival, Graham said, “This is always such a hot topic and I think it’s understandable that a lot of passengers will do things that they’ve always done when travelling – and it does take a bit of time to adapt to a new way of travelling.”
“For me, communication is key here. We have to re-educate passengers on how to travel. It’s my job to make sure passengers have absorbed this new information and feel comfortable with these changes. It takes time to get used to, but we understand that everyone is trying their best.”
People were less sympathetic in the comments of the aforementioned video. One (hopefully) tongue in cheek ‘solution’ proposed involved spikes in the cabin ceiling (“if you get up too fast you get a nasty prick, and develop a psychological disincentive to react to the chime too quickly”). Others were simpler: “mute the chime and keep the seatbelt light on and just have the flight attendants dismiss row by row.”
“Keep the entertainment systems going so people have a distraction while waiting for their turn to deplane.”
“It was a huge issue before Covid,” wrote another. “You would think that people would be more conscious about it now. Hopefully they can come up with a practical solution. It definitely needs addressing urgently.”
Other comments suggest this could be a uniquely American problem. One British flyer wrote: “I flew BA twice yesterday – my 1st flight since COVID and they made the same announcements and everyone did as they were told (may be a British thing) worked rather well.”
One Italy based flyer wrote: “I currently live in Italy and every airline I’ve flown thus far (Lufthansa and Alitalia) everyone sits until it’s their turn to deplane. Like it’s insane how well people listen. They don’t even need to make the announcement, it’s just an understood rule here and everyone follows it. It’s quite incredible. It’s like clock work.”
Other commenters argued it was not the airlines’ responsibility, emphasising that if passengers listened to the rules it would be a non issue: “Not sure if you’ve flown @delta recently but we make an announcement in the air and once we land about staying seated until the row in front of you is six feet away and retrieved their items.”
“The challenge you’ll face on any airline is enforcing said rule and people’s ability to listen to the PA announcement with Boise noise canceling headphones. Some things are simply out of the airlines’ control but we make a solid effort.”
To this Mr. Griff responded: “Absolutely… The same announcements were made on my JetBlue and United flights. As you said, people just don’t hear or care to listen… I’m not sure exactly what can be done about it (unlike boarding when you have a gate agent metering the process). But at least it’s a conversation starter.”
Learn more about how business class has changed in 2020 below.