Over the last few days I’ve received countless tweets, mostly from folks stateside, linking to news articles detailing the treatment of grieving relatives of those lost on Malaysian Airlines flight 370.
“Ferrari F1 Team kicks grieving relatives of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 out of hotel rooms”
“Malaysia jet search: Grieving relatives forced to switch hotels as F1 crews move in”
“Grieving Families Booted From Hotel for Formula One Grand Prix”
Kicked. Forced. Booted.
But sometimes we would do well to look beyond headlines and actually think for a moment.
There are two hotels at the centre of all this. One is the Sama Sama, formerly the Pan Pacific. It is a large hotel, connected to the airport by a walkway, and was for many years the accreditation centre for the Grand Prix. It is still used by many teams and sponsors and one imagines it will have been booked solid on Grand Prix week for over six months.
The other is Cyberview Resort and Spa. It is nowhere even close to the airport. It is a luxury retreat often frequented by drivers. I stayed here a few years ago for two days as a treat to myself before the race started. Two days was all I could afford. It isn’t cheap.
But reports say a dozen Chinese relatives were “forced” out of this hotel, and that Malaysia Airlines took the decision to move itself from Sama Sama.
There’s a lot of bile being spat at the moment about terrible Formula 1 and the heartless bastards who have moved the families. But just take a moment.
What do you think happened? Ferrari turned up at their hotel, found their rooms inhabited by grieving relatives and haughtily ordered the manager to eject these weeping individuals, post haste?
It’s not as if Formula 1 travel is the work of an instant. Flights and hotels are booked months, sometimes years in advance. Repeat bookings at hotels are not uncommon.
The hotel managers would have been well aware when taking the families in that their establishment was fully booked for Grand Prix week. If they failed to make Malaysia Airlines or the families aware of this then the root of this problem lies with them.
But I am also quite sure that nobody expected the search for flight 370 to be entering a third week. What those poor families are going through I cannot even fathom.
But Formula 1 has not booted, thrown or kicked them out of anywhere. They have simply been moved to another hotel because the one in which they had been placed was fully booked for the week commencing March 24th. And I am perfectly sure that it will have been the hotels themselves that made the families and/or the airline aware of their need to switch hotels, days before any crew arrived. The F1 teams claimed to have done the booting probably had no idea that any of this was happening.
It saddens me that some media outlets would chose such an easy target as the grief of those families, to come up with such a nasty and ill thought through story. And that so many would unflinchingly believe what they are spoon fed by the media at large, without taking the time to do a little bit of thinking for themselves.