I was traveling to Bangalore from Bagdogra a few days back. I could feel how the class system rules and the treatment for an English and a non-English speaker, predominantly a migrant worker. My experience was limited to the aviation sector.
Pandemic has opened a new section of flayers: the migrant workers. With the limited availability of trains and metros opening up for construction and hospitality, their bosses are doing everything to get them back. This instance, paying for their flight tickets, food, and airport pickup service on arrival.
While this has opened a new revenue stream for the airline industry, it has opened up a new set of challenges for the airline industry. The industry is not ready to handle these first-time flyers, limited English speakers with love, care, and empathy. The airline industry has catered to medium and high-income English speakers.
Almost all airlines in India are ill-equipped to handle this avalanche of first-time flyers. The airlines’ crew and ground staff are in pain. And victims are these first-time flyers. I witnessed 4-5 such shouting and yelling in a single journey.
Is it the mistake of being born poor?
Is it illiteracy?
The limited job opportunity in the home state?
What is their mistake: getting an opportunity to travel in an aircraft?
Our country is divided more on class than on caste, religion, or culture. Also, we are all big bigots; we have hours to discuss what is happening in Afghanistan and no words for the oppression these folks are going through.
The whole system is ill-equipped to handle these first-time flyers. That is why I have not added the airlines’ names here.