Saturday, November 29, 2008

The longest journey in an uncaring society

I took a flight from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur recently with my hubby and son, and I felt that it was the longest journey ever, despite the journey being only 55 minutes.

We were a little late in checking in at the airport and was given separate seats in different rows, with my hubby in front, myself in the middle, and my son at the back, all in the middle seat between the aisle seat and the window seat.

When we boarded the airplane, there was already a gentleman (not so gentlemanly after all, actually) seated on the aisle seat next to me. I told a friend who was seated in the next row that my son and I could not get a seat next to each other as the flight was fully booked, and we checked in late despite checking in ONE HOUR before the flight. I was hoping that with that statement the ‘gentlemen’ seated in the aisle seat next to me would kindly offer his seat up for Aiman so that we can be seated together. I was wrong at assuming so. This `gentleman’ instead decided to open up his newspaper, refusing to meet my eyes.

In fact, he kept his eyes on the newspaper throughout the journey, even though several times during the journey, I looked in his direction, hoping to meet his eyes, with the hope of him offering up his seat for my son. He never once lifted his head from the paper that he was reading.

My son was close to tears when I told him, before boarding the airplane, that we will not be able to seat together, but I assured him that I am sure that there will be a kind soul who would kindly offer up his or her seat for a mother and a young child to seat together. I was never more wrong. Unfortunately, we are living in an uncaring society. *sigh*

My hubby said that, to be fair, I should have asked the `gentleman’ if we could have exchanged seats. For all I know, he would have willingly given in. But, I argued that, one, he knew of our situation as I said it quite clearly and loud enough as I was seating my son that we could not get a seat together, and two, I was feeling uneasy and restless throughout the journey, as I kept standing up and looking back after the take off to see if my son is OK, if he had buckled his seat belt, if he wanted a drink and so on as any mother would when her child is not within view of her.

If it was me who was in that aisle seat and noticed the predicament of a mother and child being seated separately, I wouldn’t hesitate and given a second thought of giving up my seat for them to be together. How hard could it be? After all, it was only a 55 minute journey. I have given up my seats even on long haul flights before so that a family can be seated together.

Had I asked, would he have actually given up his seat for me? I am not too sure either actually, as I remember two years ago, when my siblings and I and our families had to buy tickets at the eleventh hour to take a flight back to Kota Bharu when our mum had a heart attack.

There were 9 of us traveling together – 5 adults, and 4 children. We checked in late as we only bought the tickets just hours before our journey. While I managed to get a seat next to my then 6 year old son, my brothers and their children (aged between 8 and 11) were all seated separately.

I managed to get an aisle seat with my son next to me in the middle seat. My nephew, who was 8 years old then, was seated across the aisle from me in the middle seat. There was a lady (not so lady after all *sigh*) seated in the window seat next to my son.

I politely asked her if she would exchange seats with my nephew so that we can all seat together as my nephew was already close to tears when he could not be seated next to his dad who was seated at the very end of the plane.

Her reply? “NO! I had booked this seat!”, and turned away to look out the window. In fact, she kept her eyes out of the window throughout the journey, refusing to meet my eyes in case I might ask her again. I wouldn’t stoop that low and get embarrassed again to someone so uncaring and ‘cruel’. It is just unbelievable and sad that such a person exist in this world and how one can be so uncaring ! *sigh*

I felt sorry for my nephew, and kept assuring him throughout the journey that I am just here from across the aisle from him. After a while, he finally calmed down and took a short nap, just like what my son did on this journey from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur.

The next time I travel with my son, I am definitely going to pre-book my seats!


busymum100 said...


I am sorry to hear this :-( .
It's just unfortunate for us to have to come across such inconsiderate people.

And, yes, it's a good idea to pre-book the seats.

Nikai said...

Some people don't take sarcasm well, so making a direct request may be the better way.

Za said...

NikAi, I did make a direct request when we traveled back to KB when Ma had a heart attack and Ayin had to sit alone. But, I only ended up embarassing myself by asking someone so uncaring. *sigh*