Coastweek -- Sitting
in a plane for nearly half a day with people that you have never
met and will probably never meet again can be quite an
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
The same could
happen in the high speed hydrofoil passenger ferries where
seating is arranged plane style.
I have travelled in
many of these over the years and one gets to see many instances
where pressure builds up to bursting point.
Some happen very,
travelling to the United States recently and this was before the
advent of the direct flights by our national carrier, Kenya
It therefore meant
that she had to take two flights of almost eight hours each.
This has been the
standard for most of us for many years.
The alternative is
through the Middle East or Addis and these involve a short four
hour leg followed by a fourteen and a half hour journey.
The journey is long!
On the first leg,
flying in a Kenya Airways Dreamliner, the plane was full.
In the economy
section, where Kachumbari was, there was the usual scurrying
around looking for space to keep hand luggage in the overhead
sitting in an aisle seat on the right hand side of the central
cluster of four seats.
To her right the
three seats were occupied by two men sitting next to each other
with a lady sitting in the window seat.
All seemed to be
going well for the early part of the day time flight.
When the flight
levelled off, the crew came around serving drinks and some
An hour or so after
this the cabin was abuzz as breakfast was served.
This took another
hour or so and when stuff was cleared, the cabin settled into an
almost set pattern.
There were those
that settled into muted conversations with the occasional giggle
or cackle to punctuate the engagements.
A large number were
engrossed on the screens in front of them either playing games
or watching movies.
A sizeable number
had their mobile phones in hand either playing games or catching
on their communications.
A small number had
their lap tops out and were either watching movies or working –
like I am often doing when I have these longish flights.
The people seated
opposite Kachumbari settled into different routines.
The lady near the
window started to read a book.
sitting in the middle seat was focused on the screen in front of
him and kept fiddling agitatedly with the touch screen and the
hand control at intervals.
The man in the aisle
seat promptly went to sleep after having his breakfast.
A couple of hours
after breakfast was served, the fellow in the middle seat woke
up the sleeping person in the aisle seat and asked whether he
could be let out.
As he stood up to
get out, the lady in the window seat started saying that the
fellow getting out should get out and not come back.
The fellow looked at
her and said he was going to come back there as that was his
The lady’s speaking
volume went several notches higher and she told the man that he
was uncouth and asked why he had been touching her frequently as
the flight progressed.
The man said that
there was little space in the middle seat and that he could not
avoid contact due to the close proximity they were in. the lady
would have none of that.
She told the man
that one of them would have to move and that if the chap came
back to his seat she would go to another seat.
apologised but she would have none of it.
He decided he would
go to visit the washroom and then return.
As he was away, one
of the stewardesses walked past in her regular inspection of the
cabin and the lady called out to her loudly and started
complaining that the passenger who was occupying the seat next
to her had been touching her inappropriately from time to time
since the plane took off.
She also repeated
that it was either him or her to move seats.
She listened and
asked to sit down whilst she sorted matters out.
The fellow came back
whilst she was still settling the lady and the minute she
sighted him, she started her tirade against him.
The man kept quiet
as his manner suggested he did not speak much.
started to question the two and it became quickly apparent the
situation could turn explosive.
She asked the
gentlemen to accompany her and they disappeared into the
business class section of the plane.
A few minutes later,
a male steward came and started talking to the lady and took her
to the back part of the plane for some minutes.
Eventually the lady
was brought back and sat down in her seat.
She was snivelling
into a piece of tissue and one could not be sure whether this
was for show or for real.
After she had fully
settled and belted up, the steward went to the business class
area and returned with the other passenger and asked him to
collect his stuff.
He was then led into
the business class section with his luggage. He did not return
to his seat.
When the lady
enquired what happened to the person, she was told that he had
been given another seat.
She asked where and
the stewardess was very diplomatic and simply said that he was
in a different part of the plane where they were unlikely to
This seemed to be
the end of the matter as the lady went back to sit and read her
After some time, she
struck a conversation with the person who was left next to her
in the aisle seat and Kachumbari couldn’t help overhearing the
The lady was
muttering that she hoped that the fellow had not been put in
business class despite the fact that he had been misbehaving and
been the aggressor as far as she was concerned.
The reality is that
the fellow had been put in a spare business class seat to ensure
that they did not cross paths.
The aircraft crew in
consultation with each other had realised that one of them had
experienced a similar altercation with the lady on a flight some
time back and she even remembered the name when they checked the
They decided it was
better to move the person away rather than pander to the lady
who would feel vindicated as having been attacked when in
reality she was being unreasonable.
As Kachumbari says,
a great skin can hide a rotten interior.
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