NEWS that passengers on a PIA flight from Manchester to Islamabad left so much litter on the plane that it led to a delayed departure comes as a national embarrassment. The now viral photos taken of PK-9785 show shocking scenes of heaps of trash strewn on seats and the floor of the plane, including plastic cups, bottles, tissue and wrappers. Discarded food items, too, were thrown on the floor. The lavatories were equally dirty, with tissue scattered everywhere. A spokesperson for the airline said passengers behaved badly on the flight — even though the same passengers maintain decorum when on international carriers.

The episode is shameful, as it reflects poorly not only on the national carrier but also on members of the public. The fact that ostensibly well-behaved Pakistanis travelling on other carriers somehow forget their manners while on PIA shows the mentality of citizens towards both law enforcement and respect for their surroundings. The attitude of passengers on this particular flight was the same as that of citizens who do not think twice before littering in public places. It is a combination of bad manners, laziness and a lack of respect for the rules. PIA, too, is responsible here, as it is clear episodes like this are not a rarity. What measures has the national carrier taken to make passengers aware of cleanliness, access to waste disposal and to enforce penalties for littering? Given that this is a repeat episode, why is PIA staff not prepared to clean the plane more efficiently to avoid delays? The fact that toilets were badly clogged on one flight and required engineers to come and open the joints of the plumbing system shows there is a lack of awareness-building as well as a case of poor or easily broken aircraft infrastructure. Whatever the case, the airline must ensure it takes measures to crack down on littering, and warn passengers that damage to plane property will result in hefty fines. Delays and viral photos will further erode the airline’s poor reputation.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2021

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