Air Mauritius, Thank You!
Rodney Philips, 7 January 2011
I have so much to be grateful for to our national carrier I don't know where to begin. First of all, thank you for turning my recent flight from London into a wonderfully enlightening social experiment. You allowed me to experience first-hand democratic principles in ways that no Bolshevik revolution could possibly do. By squeezing so many passengers into such a tight seat confi guration, you demonstrated the fundamental value upon which Mauritius as a nation was built - tolerance! By having a newborn cry all night, an old man dribble on my shoulder, and by inhaling flatulence from the charming adolescent to my immediate right, you have proved to me what valuing diversity truly means.
By sandwiching me down the middle aisle, you helped me understand the challenges of disability. Unable to move any body parts from the neck downwards for over eleven hours, I will now be more generous when the tin comes round on Handicap Day.
Malfunctioning ventilation systems was a chance to internalise the concept of global warming. The plight of polar bears stranded on fl oating icebergs pales to insignificance compared to passengers loosening collars, desperately reaching for air vents, gasping for breath, and hoping yellow oxygen masks would fall from the ceiling. But the only things to fall from the ceiling were loose items from over-stuffed luggage bins.
Unlike worldly, superficial airlines like Emirates, you have demonstrated the fact that the physical beauty of cabin crew is irrelevant to a pleasant flight. In fact, you are right to recruit your staff from among those fellow citizens battling with overweight or hair loss or acne, or all three. Well done for applying so rigorously the equal opportunities act! The sense of national pride they showed, despite their personal problems, often manifested itself in rude remarks, road rage with food trolleys, or total absence.
Wouldn't you be grumpy or violent or asleep if you were on medication for a chronic disorder? I am pleased to note that the airlines' caterer is now Weigh Less Mauritius. Given the high incidence of non-communicable diseases among the Mauritian population, and high obesity levels among foreign passengers, the policy of serving non-substantive meals, or no food at all, can only be applauded.
Showing social responsibility in forcing a weight management programme on economy passengers is the equivalent of British Airways' Change for Good. My sincere gratitude springs also from the fact that the entire entertainment system failed to operate.
Those passengers who complained seemed unable to grasp the opportunity offered by the airline to engage in self-refl ection and prayer.
Mind you, there was the distinct mumble of prayer during turbulence over Sudan. But in a world bombarded by flickering images, booming sounds and media hype what could be more comforting than the gentle snoring of a total stranger using your shoulder as a pillow?
But, best of all, thank you Air Mauritius for showering me with the generous sum of Rs 2000 when you lost my luggage. With that kind of money, I was able to rush out and buy myself a top-of-theline toothbrush, designer deodorant, synthetic underwear and recycled flip-flops.
I know my family was disappointed that they received no gifts, but they too learned that denouncing materialism is the greatest gift of all.
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