Wednesday, February 24, 2010

China standard: travelling with a huge hand luggage

I’ve thought about this for quite a while: are there different rules regarding the size of hand luggage in China? After a countless number of flights where I have watched Chinese businessmen (always businessmen) step on the plane with bags the same size as my main, checked-in luggage, I cannot help but wonder.

The story is always the same. They get on the plane, dragging their giant back behind them (always dragging, never carrying –yet another sign that it is simply too big for being classified as a piece of hand luggage?), locate their seat, look at the overhead locker, realize that there is little or no space, and start yelling for the air stewardess. (Let me tell you one thing, if there is one working group in China that deserves an award for friendly patience, it is the group of Chinese air stewardess). Then they simply leave the bag with her and ease back at their seat. Try the same thing on a flight in Scandinavia, yeah, first of all the air stewardess would not put up with the screaming, second of all, she’d probably send you off the plane telling you you need to check in that large bag of yours.

Since we are on the subject of flying, however, I have to point out that the landing situation has become much better in China only during these (soon) 4 years that I’ve been here. When I first travelled on domestic flights in China I always watched people getting up and gathering their bags as soon as the plane hit the ground. Nowadays, most people actually stay seated until the seatbelt sign comes off. Great improvement. Again, however, when it comes to gathering your bag and getting off the plane: here comes the situation where the businessmen need to take their giant luggage from the overhead locker by themselves, as there is no tiny little air stewardess around to yell at. Funny that they always manage to hit someone (it’s been me, numerous times) with that huge bag, before eventually getting it down.


Dr. Heckle said...

Yes, I think American flight attendants would stuff him in his large bag, and then check it...

Little Tiger said...

At least they waited until the plane hit the ground to gather their bags!
I was on a flight from Milan to Lagos a few years ago.
As soon as the captain announced we were descending into Lagos,off came the seat-belts and up jumped half of the passengers to open the compartments to get out their bags. The Italian stewardesses went crazy and started waving their hands and yelling at everyone to sit down. They were ignored, of course, and as the plane landed there were bags falling down and people clinging on for dear life to the sides of seats with their one free hand (Nigerians runways are far from smooth).
Good times :]

Fortune Cookie said...

I don't know about that. When I was flying from GZ back to NJ, there were people trying to go to the bathroom as the plane was taking off! And then again as it was landing. Worst of all, I was sitting in the seat by the bathroom. When this mom realized that her child wasn't going to be able to use the bathroom as the plane was taking off I swear she was about to pull that child's pants down and have her squat right there before the stewardess shooed them back to their seats. What a flight!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonna,

Happy Chinese New Year to you.

I'm glad to hear about the improved airplane behaviour with regards to waiting until the plane has taxied to a stop when landing.

Sadly I cant say the same for their Singaporean bretheren.

How's the weather in SH? Is it snowing? Since you come from Scandanavia, do you regard Shanghai winters as being mild?


globalgal said...

I always get window seats on Chinese airlines because I got tired of being whacked with bags while the other passengers were getting on and off (since they don't really pay attention to this.) I, too, have noticed improvement in the last four years in regards to getting up while the airplane is taxiing, but you can always tell when there is an airplane novice on board as he/she will be the first up or will be glancing around nervously, ready to climb over you to get to the aisle. I think it is because it is so ingrained on trains and buses here that you've got to get off in a hurry. I work in aviation here in China, though, so I pay extra attention to everything that happens on airline flights. Ever noticed that it is very rare to hear the pilots speak to the passengers? This usually only happens on Air China flights.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Dr Heckle -and in other countries they would spit in his coffee...

little tiger -whoa, that's MAD!! And I thought I had seen it all...! U need to start blogging about your experiences!

MK -It amazes me that not every single mom asks her children, before boarding: "so, who needs to go to the bathroom?" that was always the standard when I was a kid. My folks acted as if there were no loos unless I really went when they asked. And I obliged.

adrian -The shanghai winter is a bliss!! 18 degrees today! If i didn't know better i would say that spring has arrived.. but i bet it will get colder soon. always does.

globalgal -interesting observations! Yeah, getting on/off buses/trains is always a pain over here. Or OK, not a pain, but a stressful moment. I never thought about the fact that the captain never speaks on Chi flights -but now when u say it I know u r right. Do u know the reason why?

globalgal said...

I don't really know why the pilots don't speak, except that since it isn't really necessary they don't bother. Many Captains on the airlines here are former military pilots, so they probably never had the habit of speaking to passengers. I work at a flight school where we train student pilots for the airlines and in the small airplanes the students are required to give a passenger briefing, but it is not required in big airplanes because there are flight attendants to give the briefing. I always get surprised when I hear the pilot speaking on domestic flights, especially when he repeats his message in English.

Edward said...

Hehe, so true. You're right about it getting better though. Flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc aren't as chaotic as they used to be.

If you want to see true chaos, go to Xinjiang. I was there last Summer and domestic flights over there are a complete circus. There were people trying to light up cigarettes, opening the overhead compartments and rushing down the aisle during landing. I couldn't believe it.

Jim said...

Wait until you have kids Jonna. It is all very well asking them if they want to go to the bathroom beforehand - they may not want to but once they are buckled in and taxiing on the runway "I want to peeeee!" "Can you wait?" "Noooo I want to pee NOW!" At this stage you have 3 options. 1/ Child wets pants and seat. 2/ Child pees on the floor 3/ Ignore hostess and rush to toilet and rush back to seat before takeoff.

3/ is the preferred option.

Anonymous said...

i seriously enjoy your posting type, very charming,
don't give up and keep penning as a result it simply good worth to follow it.
looking forward to read far more of your own writing, cheers ;)