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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Room For Improvement

Visiting and living in other countries is often great.  Actually getting from your home country to whichever country you're trying to visit is usually another story.  We are back in Astana now.  On the positive side, our trip was safe, delays were minimal, and three of our four checked bags came through with us (we received the fourth one yesterday, I'm happy to say.  It had our peanut butter supplies for the next several months!).  On the negative side, I saw multiple opportunities for improvement throughout.  So, without further ado, here are my unsolicited (and probably unwanted) ideas for how our most recent international trip could have been improved:

TSA Employee:  The fact that your job description includes passenger pat-downs does not give you license to be as creepy as possible in the process.  If you really feel the need to reach inside the front waistband of my pants, it would be professional to advise me of such beforehand.  Also, I'm pretty sure your job description does not include poking my bare abdomen with your fingertips.  I have been through quite a few airport pat-downs, and while they are never enjoyable, they rarely leave me thinking that they would be considered assault in any other context.

JFK Airport:  Why is the airport set up so that if I have to change terminals, I have to actually exit the airport and go through TSA security again?  People who have the misfortune of a layover at JFK are suffering enough already, and if we have already been through security (particularly at another US airport), why should we have to go through again?  I missed a flight out of JFK years ago, partly because of needing to go through security again after switching terminals.  How much time and manpower is wasted there screening passengers who were already screened at their airport of origin?  And just think--if I hadn't had to go through security at JFK on this trip (having already gone through it at RDU), I wouldn't have had to write the paragraph above about appropriate behavior during a pat-down!

Etihad Airways:  When one of your employees notices a passenger who is so drunk that he falls down during boarding, the proper response is to remove him/her from the line and not allow him/her to fly.  After all, someone that intoxicated could quite possibly pose a security threat, particularly on a lengthy flight that crosses the Atlantic Ocean.  Here is an example of an improper response to the situation:

  • Wait until drunk passenger is already seated (in a window seat, no less).
  • Inform him that he is intoxicated, and, as such, is not to ask the crew for any alcoholic beverages during the flight.  Fail to inform flight attendants who will be serving beverages of this arrangement.
  • Ask Scott to be a witness to this arrangement, as he is not on Etihad payroll, and should not be in charge of babysitting the drunkards they allow to board their planes.
  • Dismiss my request to move the (sober) two of us elsewhere on the plane.
Surprise, surprise, the drunk next to us requested a Heineken beer the first time the flight attendant came around.  Scott and I had to tell her that he was not supposed to have any alcohol.  Fortunately, he did not become belligerent, but what if he had?  Oh, and he managed to snag a cup of wine later on in the flight, so Etihad is obviously extremely lax in enforcing its own inadequate rules.

Prospective Drunk Passengers:  There will almost certainly be plenty of booze wherever you're going.  Why not wait to liquor up until you're in a situation where people can get away from you, rather than having to smell your beer breath at close range for hours on end?  Better yet, you could cut down on your drinking, but I realize I may be asking too much here.

Abu Dhabi International Airport:  Put up some signs, for crying out loud.  Or, alternatively, have extremely attentive employees direct traffic so that weary passengers can collect their onward boarding passes and go where they need to go.  You really cannot have passengers stand in line for 2+ hours at a transfer desk, only to tell them that they need to go stand in a similar line at another transfer desk to get their boarding passes.  Either you provide all boarding passes at every transfer desk at the airport, or you put up signs advising passengers which transfer desk they should wait at.  It really is that simple.

Maybe this trip just served to make me happy that I probably won't be making a long trip again in a while...


  1. You have got to start going through Dubai. :)

    1. I think we've ruled out Abu Dhabi as a place to fly through, so if we fly through the UAE again, it'll definitely be Dubai! :)

  2. Glad to hear you are back! Best wishes for the new semester!

    1. Thanks! Hope your semester is going well!