Time Stands Still For No Man (what about woman?)

The title phrase stands true, has done, always will, till the End of Time.

The same cannot be said for civilian aircraft flights.

Earlier before I started typing this post at 35,000 feet between Johannesburg and Kampala, flight SA160 stood prone on the apron at Oliver Tambo International Airport (previously named after an earlier South African, Jan Smuts, for those readers who have been to its previous incarnation, but not its current one).

The flight was scheduled to be full, but four passengers did not show up at the departure gate in time, but their baggage was already loaded and the cargo doors had been closed.

Now in a previous bygone era, our flight would have departed anyway, leaving the four no-shows to catch up with their cases later.

But such is the world today, and over the past 15+ years or so, that a no-show with baggage requires any checked baggage to be removed first before the flight can begin.  This is proper, and most of us know who is to blame for the necessity of such counter-measures; if I had my way, IATA would refuse to allow flights to/from the guilty states to use any IATA facility – let the innocents in such states find out why they are subject to such measures, and do something about it.

How and why do these no-shows/inconsiderates behave thus? 

Having travelled this mortal coil from A to Z (Afghanistan to Zanzibar and a few in between, just Zimbabwe to go to complete both ends of the alphabet), I would hazard that a few such persons have a valid reason, like having a heart attack before reaching the gate, or getting news that requires an instant change in travel plans.

What about the rest of them, the Inconsiderates?  I would not mind betting that the causes include some of the following:

Overimbibing in the terminal bars or restaurants.
– Getting lost in translation in a foreign clime.
– Dawdling through the so-called duty-free outlets in search of ‘bargains’.
– Forgetting to set their watches/smartphones, sundials, eggtimers etc to the local departure time
– Chatting to friends, strangers, potential bedmates.

Whatever the reason, these Inconsiderates’ selfish and/or ignorant actions have effects beyond their own selfish little worlds. 

It took 30 minutes AFTER scheduled rollback to locate eight of the ten Inconsiderate Cases and another 15 to find the last two and reload the the cargo holds.  By then, a crowded airspace around Johannesburg meant that departures were restricted to another 45 minutes during which only three aircraft were allowed to take off every 15 minutes.

This 90 minute delay had other consequences.  Our booked taxi driver at Kampala was unable to do any other revenue-earning trips, he just had to wait and hope that our flight would not be delayed any longer.  I am sure this situation was repeated more than fifty-fold just for our inbound flight.

If I had my way, the Guilty Ones would be earmarked in the the databases of major airlines and made to pay a 10% surcharge on their airfares the next time they booked tickets.

Of course, my cynicism knows that some airlines would not impose the fine, load factor (bums on seats) is the name of the game.

I must put this on my special bucket list for when I am in charge of the world for 24 hours.  During my 1,440 minute tenure, a lot of other irritating things would be rectified, such as a few of the rules governing association football, eg no passing the ball back to one’s own goalkeeper unless within 10 metres of the penalty area, if that.

One lives in hope.


The Jolly Roger

* Keep Safe, Well And In Touch