May 12, 2009

British Airways is Full of Shit

The Indian Premier League cricket games are going on in South Africa and apparently, even though the teams are owned by Indian millionaires, the Indian players are discriminated against and treated “differently” from the other players, who are mainly British and Australian. The source is one of India's best cricketers, Ajay Jadeja. Read more about it here.

Today, in the news I read that ONLY Indian passengers on an Air France flight were treated very badly. About sixty, yeah SIXTY passengers were made to stay overnight in a SINGLE room due to some technical problem and could not get out while the other passengers (non-Indian) were provided good hotel accommodation. Read the full story here.

Blatant racism is not a myth. It exists, and nowhere more than on international flights. When I fly back home to U.S from India, I usually fly British Airways (because my parents think it's a good “standard” airline) and take my connecting flight at Heathrow airport. The differences between the two journeys never fail to piss me off. Even at the airports, the ground staff are always nicer to the “white” people, very fervent in their “Good MORNING Sir”s and their “Have a GREAT flight, Ma'am”s. When they see Indians, the smile fades, the tone is distinctly rude and the greetings are hurried. Sometimes, just to check, I use my American accent on them. I discard my usual Indian one just to see if I get treated better. And I really really do. Not as much as if my skin was lighter, but definitely a lot better than the unfortunate guy next to me who hesitates as he speaks the unfamiliar English language and wears a turban. He got treated like garbage. Now, you may think that kind of racism is rare but it happens shockingly often. I've seen it, been a subject of it and I boil inside. But I am always polite, no matter what. Because I was brought up better. I delicately ask about a free upgrade to Business class, but am rejected on grounds of “no more available”. I sigh gently as the stoned British hippie behind me asks the same thing and instantly gets it. Could they be more fuckin' obvious? Me and the Sikh guy exchange understanding glances and hang our heads in abject hopelessness.

The plane from India to London is as a rule, dirty. There is no actual garbage thrown around everywhere, but there is a distinct unkempt air. The air hostesses are cold. They offer you drinks maybe once or twice in the entire ten hour flight, and that too, never alcohol. If you didn't know they serve wine in Economy class, you'd never get any because, hey, they never offer. You have to raise your hands and shout a million fuckin' times. When the toilets get smelly, they don't spray enough air freshener. And the food, oh man, this is discrimination at its very shiny best. This time when I went home, on the flight towards London, they served rice and chicken curry. Great, but I eat that ALL the fuckin' time and I want something else. But no, they didn't have any other dish. This is bullshit.

After I changed flights and was on the plane headed to America, however, it was a whole different story. Ma'am, red or white wine? Shepherd's pie or beef lasagna? Cold sandwich anyone? I was spoilt for choice. They pressed juice and snacks on all the passengers and it was a joyful, beautiful atmosphere of sunshine and pleasantness. Chicken or beef? Chicken or beef?.. that is the standard cry during dinner on most international flights. But not on the flight to/from India. In fact, on the flight back to India from Heathrow three weeks later, the situation went from bad to worse. Like, they served the Business class and after a very long time, they announced briefly, “The chicken meals are over, and as a result you will be served vegetarian food”. All I got was a dish of some nasty badly-cooked rice and kidney beans. Rice and beans? Do you know how much I pay to fly in your stupid airline? The SAME fuckin' amount your American friends on your other flights do. Why do you kiss their asses so much? What happened to basic human rights? I hate fuckin' racist people, especially those who are supposed to be providing you a service purely based on money. Come now, the way the British Airways people behave, it's as if they are doing YOU a favor by letting you pay to travel in their shitty, smelly planes. Fuck 'em.

Anyways, the Indian passengers who were treated badly on the Air France flight are planning to take some kind of legal action. I'm all for that. And oh yeah, I'll never take a British Airways flight again. If you are against racism, then you wouldn't either.