Air China from Madrid to São Paulo

9 Jul

My flight from Spain to Brazil was operated by Air China, and all the pilots and stewardesses were Chinese. I started by using English to communicated with the stewardesses, but I ended up using my Chinese. The Chinese man sitting next to me made a comment that I spoke really good Chinese (as Chinese people tend to do when any non-Chinese person is capable of using any Chinese), and we had a conversation about Brazil, about his business, and various other small talk things. It really made me realize how bad my Chinese has gotten. I would say that I am down to a B1 level. Just to be friendly, I also spoke to the mother and father of a little baby who were sitting near me. I spoke portuguese to them merely commenting that they had a cute kid and that it must be hard to be a parent. I slept intermittently on the flight, but not as much as I had hoped.

I was quite surprised by the in flight entertainment. Each seat had its own video screen, which wasn’t unusual for such a long flight, but the selection of movies shocked me. On the flight the selection of movies was split roughly this: 60% Chinese films, 30% American films, and 10% other (including Korean, Spanish, and Russian). But the subtitles are what really surprised me: many of the films didn’t have subtitles in multiple languages, meaning that they weren’t available to a wide range of audiences. The American films, for example, only had subtitles in Chinese. The Chinese films had subtitles only in Chinese and in English. Keep in mind that this flight was going from Madrid to Sao Paulo, so most of the passengers would be (assumably) Brazilian or Spanish. Despite this, few of the movies offered either subtitles or audio in Portuguese or in Spanish, effectively eliminating all a large number of the passengers from the use of the entertainment system. For a flight that did not land in nor take off from China or the USA, it surprised me that English and Chinese were both such dominant languages in their system.

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