We all know the struggle of queueing up to request middle or aisle seats before boarding flights. Middle seats in an airplane can mean two things – restricted movement and the sometimes pervy nudge-nudge of a fellow passenger.
“Vistara Airlines wants to change the way women travel”. In an attempt to ensure women travelling alone have a harassment-free journey, the airlines will exempt them from getting middle seats. Women travelling solo will be given preference for window or aisle seats. This, even if they have not pre-selected their seats online.
While this move might be welcome by most women travelling alone, it is yet to be seen how effective it is in curbing in-flight harassment. Perhaps a better alternative is to have stricter security on flights and sharper vigilance against harassment, but of course, exceptionalising treatment towards women is the only solution they could come up with.
But what irks us most is the second step the airline has taken to ensure smoother travel for solo female travellers. Vistara, according to its Woman Flyer service, will help women travelling solo with their bags, and escort them to and from their ground transportation. Wot? Chivalry and all, aside, what makes them think every woman travelling alone needs help?
In a world where an increasing number of women are travelling alone, we’re fairly certain they don’t need a chaperone to scurry them around and carry their bags. It’s more of a hinderance than help. While Vistara’s intentions behind this move might be noble, it could possibly pit more women in the ‘weaker sex’ stereotype. Can you please try to ensure safety without trying to infantalise women? You might as well pin a badge to our forehead saying ‘Need Help. Because, Woman’.
Ensuring safety on flights is all very fantastico, but stop short of holding our hands and our bags for us. Thank you very much.