Re: Dziekanski tragedy: Shouldn’t we be asking more about airport services in general?
RCMP has been on a spotlight for some days now in regards to the tragic death of a Polish
immigrant. I think this is right: recent events that hit the headlines indicate that RCMP must be
held accountable in more than one way. However, I think a much more attention should be paid
about the overall services available. An extremely confused non-English speaking person
wandered around for more than 10 hours without drawing an attention of a single person in the
airport authority. This is simply unacceptable at an international airport. Especially in the light
of the upcoming Olympic Game in Vancouver next year, to say, “We have to deal with millions
of travellers,” or “Security is our primary concern,” can not be an excuse.
South Africa is preparing for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals. Our South African travel guide
knew about the Vancouver incident because the infamous video was apparently broadcasted all
over the world. With the memory of that tragedy still fresh in my mind, I was very anxious about
my non-English speaking sister flying alone from Tokyo to Johannesburg. She was going to join
us on Safari. That was exactly one year ago. So we went to the Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo
Airport very early. But the guide reassured us, “A horrible thing like that will never happen
I was particularly impressed by the services at the airport to the foreigners. For example, a
passenger with language difficulty was given a 2 inche diameter oval shape badge of South
African flag by an airline agent. It was to be visible on a chest or a lapel. All airlines customer
service personnel are to look out for those people who may need extra help. I was mightily
relieved when I saw this. My sister safely arrived and we had a good time. When she left, I was
no longer anxious. She disappeared beyond the barriers with an airline escort. She is telling
everybody now she just loved South Africa.
I hope that Vancouver International Airport has something like that and other measures to help
hundreds of thousands of guests coming to the Olympics next year.