Breaking the language barrier up in the air

Only a few airlines use regional languages, besides English and Hindi, to make routine safety and other announcements

October 13, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:34 am IST

For a frequent flyer, routine safety and other announcements are just dull exercises. In contrast, a first-time flyer listens to the instructions carefully. So, when these instructions are given out just in English and Hindi, it seems to irk some people unfamiliar with both these languages.

For instance, S. Ramani (name changed) said one of his relatives who was travelling by air for the first time, felt uncomfortable and extremely nervous while on the flight simply because she had not understood the instructions. It was a Chennai to Bangalore flight.

“They could have made the announcement in the local language at the place of departure; you have to understand that these days it is no longer only the elite people who travel by air,” she said.

Only a few airlines have regional language announcements, besides English and Hindi.

“Since we run on multiple sectors, we do try and incorporate the regional language in some of the sectors; but in the rest, it is only English and Hindi. That’s how it has been over the decades,” an airline official said.

Recently, there was even a petition online from a flyer seeking the attention of Civil Aviation Ministry to incorporate the regional language for announcements along with English.

Poor patronage for toll-free number

A month since a new toll-free autorickshaw complaint number (1800-425-5430) was introduced, the Transport Department says there have been considerably fewer complaints than expected.

In the end of September, the department launched this toll-free number to allow passengers to register complaints against autorickshaw drivers who are over-charging.

The number is a 24-hour helpline, where the complaints can be registered through IVRS (Integrated Voice Response System), and the passenger will simply have to provide details of the autorickshaw, and when the offence occurred.

“In the past month, we received only around 100 complaints on this number from across the state,” a senior transport official said, adding that there was very little awareness about the number, and many people were reluctant to complain about autorickshaw drivers.

Although the department has been affixing stickers on all autorickshaws in the city to create awareness about the numbers, they say that many of them have removed the stickers.

Now, the department is planning to improve awareness about the complaint number by sending out mass SMSes, and also by ensuring the auto driver information card in the front of the auto has the complaint number on it.

“We are now insisting that all autos have a driver information card that is easily visible to the passengers. All auto drivers have been called in to their respective RTOs to place this card,” he added.

All complaints made on this number are immediately forwarded to the RTO by email, and the RTO is expected to submit an action taken report.

(Reporting by Sunitha Sekar and Kavita Kishore)

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