Surviving our airports

Surviving our airports

Our airports are unsafe, and they also function as lawless entities accountable to no one

Veeresh Malik
July 31 , 2014
02 Min Read

Barring defence airports, bonafide passengers are permitted to take photographs for non-commercial usage — anywhere. Now and then somebody will object, just keep the relevant DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) circular handy. On board, on the tarmac, inside and outside terminals, in the sky. But in these unsafe days and nights, with aviation incidents being reported every day, the camera as a tool to help you stay alive? Absolutely. Safety has many faces, but they can all be recorded, and no better tool than a camera.

We have just seen a series of full-page advertisements by the DGCA about their ‘safety week’. It can therefore be assumed that the rest of the year is unsafe, and we have to look after ourselves. The truth is simple — airports in India are not just unsafe, but often function as lawless entities accountable to no one.


Here are some safety issues the DGCA may have missed, and what you can do, which is to take those photos and put them up on the Internet:

Ground movement airside: Document the way the airlines pack people on board the bus, and then refuse to board till they organise another bus. Grab a shot of the bus straying on to the aircraft taxiway, and spot the way the baggage carts and stepladders are parked any old how. Take a photograph of the speedometer. If the speedometer doesn’t work, then take another photo — how is the driver supposed to stay within speed limits?

Up in the air:
Pilots are supposed to sit in the cockpits manning the aircraft, not stroll out to greet their buddies or suck up to VIPs. Cabin crew are there for our safety, not to enliven their social lives. Food is supposed to be fresh and look like what the ads portray, not franchisees for eColi. Aircraft are supposed to be clean when boarding, not sanitation hazards stinking in the interest of Quick Turn Around. And most of all, stepladders connected to airplanes are supposed to be attended to all the time. Just dangle your digicam around your neck, and see things become safer.

Unsafe practices landside: Barring the x-ray area, where too I have taken a photograph of a gun going through, you need to keep your eyes open and camera ready to spot unsafe practices. Illegal ‘imported’ food being sold without cash receipts? Overcharging for drinking water? Chaos at departure and arrival points? Diplomat and Armed Forces cars parked at bus stops? Protocol flunkies escorting the baba- and baby-log without checking? Electrical wires placed across public paths? Construction or repair work going on without adhering to safe practices?

The whole attitude with aviation in India has to do with ‘chalta hai’ and the resultant finger pointing. If we take a few proactive steps, as regular travellers, and start documenting just the simple visible aspects, then it is a beginning in changing the whole approach.

Get your camera out. It is for your own safety, really.

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