Flying Easy for Grandma

How To Make Flying easy for Grandma?

“Make Flying easy for grandma (and grandpa).” This cry is inspired by my travel spanning 3 countries, 6 airports, and marathon queues.

Updates from 2021: I wrote this in Dec 2012. Air-travel still is largely the same. Empathetic people make it work; we do need more senior-friendly policies everywhere. And it’s been a year of zero-air-travel for me – what a year it’s been!

This is, in truth, a googly (or, if you are reading this in the US, a “head-fake”). It’s actually several wishes (and rules) rolled up into one. As a bonus and to please the bean counters, I shall also talk about the associated saves.

Here goes (beware it’s a bit wicked!):

Wish A: Any airline which globalizes food names will have their licenses revoked immediately!

Idli, Vada, and sambar can no longer be called rice pancakes, lentil doughnuts, and semolina porridge! I shudder to think what they would call haka noodles or sushi. Unless, of course, like the pizza, these were named before we become “globally” enlightened!)

So what’s the ROI?

The stewardess will be able to convince grandma that the food is indeed vegetarian. They can use the time saved to sell more duty-free goods – $$$

Wish B: A World-wide realization that Grandpas are not Fedex employees.

Getting them to remove (and repack) any “large and/or complicated” electronic equipment at every security checkpoint is a big NO. If this happens, the concerned airline CEO will need to come down and personally put in everything that has been removed into the minuscule-sized luggage that grandmas pack. The same logic applies to liquids. Remember, grandmas, are not chemists. We cannot expect them to carry pipettes to measure their concoctions into 100 ml bottles. Moreover, grandmas will now be allowed to carry any sweets/ treats and such with no checks whatsoever. Exceptions include any home-made medicine they may carry for their grandchildren. These can (actually must) be confiscated – failing which the aforementioned CEO will need to partake of the stuff.

So what’s the ROI?

Millions of hours saved. Also, the CEO gets some exercise (and some bitter medicine). Not to mention some thoroughly relieved grandchildren.

Wish C: “Name Pattern-based Terrorist identification software” (wow!) must be globalized.

A name that passes UK emigration without trouble should pass through the US – and vice versa. Indian and East European parents consider their job done only if their children have a minimum of 21 characters in their names. Getting these validated by the poor, hassled TSA (or equivalent) agents will result in the CFO of the concerned airline having to take Chinese lessons! Continued failure to adopt this law will result in him having to watch this video!

So what’s the ROI?

Immense saves in the doctors’ fees for the TSA team and their gratitude.

Wish D: Unfriendly checkout and check-in luggage processes are a NO-NO!

Asking people to check out their luggage only to give it back to a connecting flight’s counter a hundred yards away will result in the CTO of the airline having to listen to one of grandpa’s long (and very boring) tales. The same fate will befall the airport boss whose terminals are more distant from each other than your destination airport is.

So what’s the ROI?

Saves from the reduced risk of someone’s grandpa checking your luggage (by mistake, of course) to a remote destination isn’t enough?

On which irreverent note, I should acknowledge that much as terrorism, technology (and the pandemic this year!) and scale have made travel that much more complicated, the people on the ground (stewards, security agents, luggage coordinators, information kiosks) more than makeup for it by extending their help – and with a smile to boot. It was Christmas time then –, and the good cheer, goodwill, and kindness of these people were wonderful to behold – thank you all.

And wishes to all my readers for a wonderful year ahead. I know some of you would have come hoping to see a signature “meditation on our times”  story or perhaps even a technology story – but I feel sometimes we deserve something like this –  irreverent and absolutely not-on-point. Agreed?

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  1. How about connecting flights and if especially the prior ones gets delayed? Nice one, Subra. Liked the ROIs 🙂

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