Can We Be a Little More Humane?

by | Jun 10, 1998 | Caring, God's Hands, Kindness

It was a pleasant November morning. I was traveling by a leading Airlines, which had an excellent track record in customer service.

Pleasantries and smiles greeted me at all places as I boarded the plane. I was appreciating the fact that young girls and boys or should I say smiling angels, wearing those attractive colourful uniform, went about greeting me and others with lot of visible enthusiasm. My respect and regard for the Airline increased to greater heights for the kind of training they had imparted to their employees.

Just as I was about to settle down with these happy feelings, some noise behind my seat distracted my thinking process.

Danny Dujon, as he later introduced himself to me, had just boarded the Aircraft with his family of seven members, comprising his wife, four daughters and a four year old son. It appeared that they were given seats in different rows as per availability and Danny was requesting the Airline staff / the fellow passengers to adjust & help the family sit together i.e. close to each other so that their journey is as enjoyable as other’s.

Danny was greeted with a cold response from the fellow travelers. The Airline crew’s response was quite predictable as I remembered having heard it before. She said, “Sir, kindly be seated wherever your seats are for the time being. We will try and adjust you and the members of your family, once the plane is airborne, if seats are available”.

Perhaps Danny and his family were not regular Air travelers and I know by experience that how frightened I was during my first few air journeys. Confusion and anxiety was visible on children’s faces. But they had no choice except following the Airhostess’s directions.

Efforts were again made indeed to find some seats, where Danny’s family could be together, once we were airborne. But to no avail, thanks to lack of empathy in co-passengers and the half-hearted efforts made by the Airline staff. There was a strange but subtle sense of uneasiness in my mind as all I could do was request crew & others to help.

Most of the seats allotted to Danny’s family were middle seats & the passenger seated on the isle seats showed displeasure by their gestures, every time one of the Dujon family members got up from his seat.

Danny and his 4 year old son were seated along with a very healthy six feet tall person, when the child started crying. The meals were being served and he probably wanted his mother to be seated with him.

Danny requested this gentleman to let him out, to which he obliged. However, by the time his wife reached the place to be with her child, our tall healthy friend had started eating his meals. He refused to get up and let the lady join her crying child.

The child was crying to be with his mother, the lady was requesting our friend to just get up from his seat for a second to enable her get by the side of her child. The other passenger’s attitude very unfortunately was marked with indifference. This went on for some time and the man stuck to his stand.

Danny approached the Airline staff, who, after inquiring, gave yet again a technically correct answer, that “The customer says he would not like to be disturbed during his meals, and hence we can request him only after he finishes his meals.” This was not going to help the situation, any way.

Danny was upset and wanted to take up an argument with the gentleman, when I requested him to calm down. The crew accommodated the mother and child, (The child was now in her arms, thanks to the courtesy extended by one of the passengers seated nearby, who lifted him and handed over to the worried and astonished mother.) In the rear section of the aircraft, where they waited for a complete 20 minutes (while all other passengers had their meals) before our friend on the isle seat obliged and they could get back to their seats.

The plane landed at the destination and we parted ways. It was not a very pleasant experience for Dujon family, who , given a choice, would probably like to forget this journey as soon as possible.

I was trying to figure out all this while as to what went wrong and could it have been avoided ! Could a little effort on the part of the participants in the above situation made any difference to the result !

The family reported well in time at the Airport but could not be seated together. Could the Airline have kept a block of seven seats for them?

What if they did not turn up ! Was it not in the interest of the Airline to have checked on phone with the group about their plans, nearer the time on the day of the flight ?

Well, the seats are offered on “First Come First Serve” basis. Will it not be prudent on the part of the Airline to keep certain rows as reserved for families and travelers with children !

Further could they not have attempted seats adjustments at the counter and made a request to the affected passengers either in waiting lounge or in the plane ?

Well, the group should have ensured to come before time to get seats together ! Will it not be desirable from the Airline that they have least number of expectations from the customer and attend to the needs of every customer as if he or she is traveling with them for the first time !

The group was such a nuisance all through the flight ! Was it possible for the co-passengers to leave their preference for the isle or window seats for a while and help the kids enjoy their journey ?

Was it asking for too much ! Was it not expected of them as a responsible member of the society to have empathy and be a bit more sensitive towards the needs of Dujon family members ?

Could we all ( me, crew included ! ) have acted in a manner that could have made the difference ! Could we be a bit more sensitive to what is happening around us ! Could we , above all, make an attempt to learn, may be once again, to behave like human beings !

Can we be a little more humane !

AUTHOR’s NOTE : All names in the above real life story are changed to respect the privacy.

An Article By : Nitin Kulkarni © 2000 

Nitin Kulkarni is the facilitator of “Nascent Dew Drops”, a free weekly e-zine of inspirational and motivational stories from real life experiences.

His other articles can be viewed at his web site through his e-zine which can be subscribed just by sending a blank e-mail message to


Can We Be a Little More Humane?