Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Traveling with …NON Travelers

No pictures I’m afraid…just some observations from the Zoo part of the airplane.

Corey and I are headed to Beijing to meet Mair and Stew. 

I can not tell you how very excited we are for this trip.  Corey needs the time off as he has flown 20,000 air miles in the last month…yes, we ARE taking a plane…but at least there is touring on the other side. 

SO…Tourism in ALL forms in China is new.  The things we just take for granted are ALL new…so, for those of us who have…I don’t know…been on a plane, been on a train, been more than 10 miles from our home…are new to Mainland Chinese.

You think I’m racist.

I am not.  This is a fact.  The wealth, expansion and freedoms granted to Mainland Chinese has opened the whole world. Until six or seven years ago, they could NOT travel b/c of government restrictions!

HOWEVER…the world has things it takes for granted.  The world has knowledge it takes for granted.

Those NEW to the world are new to the knowledge.

Let me elaborate. This is a serious list…and I’m typing this at 40,000 feet.

Corey and I are in an exit row.  The crew CHEERED.  Yes, we have been in an exit row before.  You will see why they were happy in a little bit.

As we got on the plane we moved back to the 40th row.  Rows 22 to 39 were relatively quiet.  People were getting in their seats, settled.  No issues.

We moved to the next section.  The sound level increased 100 x as the crowd got found their seats. It was mayhem finding overhead space.  In fact, finding the seats themselves was a novelty  We were informed by the staff that this area of the plane is normally reserved for tours.


Let’s just say it was SO bad…that the flight crew shared they not only needed a break…they wanted ear plugs. And we hadn’t even left the ground.

After the obligatory “China” delay (China airspace is controlled by the military so it is closed at a whim), we take off.

We taxi.  It’s all good.  We take off.  It’s all good. THEN, Corey says; “Just watch” We are not in the air 2 minutes and people are out of their seats….moving about the aisles.  The flight attendants yell and they sit down…but not for long.

Seat belt sign?  What is that? 

I will say that airlines in Asia do turn the seatbelt sign off much earlier than US airlines.  Once the sign goes off I ran to the bathroom.  It was a smart move.

The bathroom.  I am going to skip over the usual stereotypical bathroom stuff.  Let’s go straight to the lock.  This crowd is NOT used to “red light = stop Green Light = go”  In fairness, I’m not sure there is a red light/green light expectation.

Remember rows 22-39? THEY know how to open, close and lock the bathroom door…Rows 40+ (except for four of us – me and Corey included) do not.  In fact, the green button …or red button…means nothing.  If the button is green…there is still waiting outside…if the button is red..there is pushing on the doors. Then, once they actually get IN the restroom…they do not lock the door…so others are barging in.  WOW

Seat belt signs.  NO CLUE.  See above referenced note about leaping out of the seats the minute we were off the ground.  The seat belt sign coming on during the flight…that is ignored…completely.  The flight attendants were constantly putting people in their seats..and then when the attendant left the person popped up again.  It was like Kindergarten for 60 year olds.

Because people kept using the restroom WITH the seatbelt light on, finally, the restroom door was locked by the crew.  It stopped no one from trying to enter, but the staff was pretty quick in putting people in their seats.

But…people kept escaping. There were plenty of folks standing at the locked doors…thinking there were people inside…yea , no….but what fun it is to watch!

I guess the best story I can share with you to let you know how NEW all of this is to the Mainland Chinese is this: 

A friend was shopping in Shenzhen,  This is an area in Mainland China but so close to Hong Kong we can get there by train and quite honestly, from where I live, is a stone’s throw.  Kowloon (my neighborhood) is attached to China (so why can’t I get China’s info on ProPoints?  I don’t know!!)  SO, while she was there…the authorities were conducting “queuing” lessons.  What is a “queue?” A Queue is a line.  The authorities were having lessons on how to line up.  She said it was pretty funny.

The US is scorned because only 15% or so have passports. In fact, the US people were just voted the worst tourists on the planet.  REALLY?  Who was voting?   I beg to differ.

However, because of our every day experiences, when the travel bug hits…there are certain things we know….like the fact we should lock a lavatory door.

SO…here is my other “however”.  The people on these tours (in the zoo part of the plane) are 99.9% guaranteed new to travel..even down to “red means occupied and green means open.”  Seat belt signs…most probably never really been seen before.

I leave it to Cathay…Dragon Air and ALL of the other Mainland providers to add these little touches into their safety videos. 

It is only by repetition and experience that all will become seasoned travellers.

It is only by repetition and experience that the flight attendants will WANT to keep their jobs!

Be nice to those flight attendants, they deal with a lot of crap.

Lastly, the next time you are in a line and someone is being slow or asking questions remember they what you just know, they most probably do not.  Take a breath.  You will get there!

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