Art, Culture, Books and Travel

Long-haul airlines have got equality wrong@

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By Donette Read Kruger

You finally zip your luggage for your long-haul flight to southern Africa, wishing you could somehow smuggle in that last kilogram onto the scale, but no chance! That extra pair of new shoes is left behind with promises from others to post them to you, one at a time, surface mail. All you have to do once the first shoe arrives is let them know immediately, and then the second shoe can be shipped surface mail.


With a couple of hours you are strapped in and on the flight, torn between imagining how you would have handled the tragic eventualities of MH370 making headlines around the world, and besides yourself with excitement at seeing your loved ones, when a voice interrupts your slumber. “Excuse me, please?” and an enticing tray of food is passed under your nose – straight to the person in the seat next to you.


The person is a vegan, or has Special Needs and they, together with all the children, are served first. Is that a smirk you discern, while he airily explains, “I ordered this on-line when I booked my ticket…” This only adds to your chagrin. You turn away and swallow as he tucks in. At least the kids are quiet for now but it seems like an eternity before you are offered “Meat or fish?” Alert, you suddenly sit up. Its decision time! You smile happily, “Fish, please?” The flight attendant crouches down and searches the trolley, then hesitatingly replies, “Sorry, the fish is finished – beef or lamb?” The choicest vegetables seem to go down a lot better rather than the micro-waved-trolley-heated aluminium-wrapped ready meals but there are no vegan or fish meals left. You grudgingly feel side-lined, and opt for beef, chicken or lamb.

Other than the 28kgs luggage allowance, where is the embracing policy of Equality Rights for all in the Economy seats? (Incidentally, are Emirates Airlines the only airline not heavy steel cutlery is unnecessary weight.) And, so you know anyone who has ever comfortably digested bulky meat meals during flights when confined to their seats for 10 hours? Meanwhile, the Special Needs have swallowed their blood pressure meds and are strolling nonchalantly up and down between aisles, intent blocking anyone else’s chance of getting to the toilet in a hurry.


The long-haul airlines are always searching for ways in which to trim their costs and entice more traffic. Instead they could offer an extra luggage allowance, and could forgo carrying meat or fish on board. Australians are allowed 38kgs, whereas southern Africans are allowed 28kgs in total.


There is not one African I know who would rather not have a choice of fish, beef or lamb and instead have an extra kilogram added to their luggage! After all, on arrival in Zimbabwe it will be pure organic meat on proper plates with steel cutlery to cut through the dripping roast – not plastic knives and forks!


Africans are a tenacious lot, and after clearing security and waiting three hours in duty-free, we can easily wait another ten hours for a delicious home-cooked meal with extra helpings of really fresh meat… I for one would rather have 30kgs luggage instead of steel cutlery to cut through the meat, chicken or fish b it halal or otherwise.

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