Airline Crews Drunk with Power
It seems like nowadays we are bombarded with tons of videos of people getting kicked off of flights. Of course the Dr. Dao situation with United was by far the worst, but this happens all of the time. Is the problem passengers, flight attendants, airlines or the rules we all follow?
Well I don’t plan on going into a huge social commentary about our behavior, but let’s just say we as customers aren’t on a level playing field. The laws give airline employees a large amount of power when dealing with issues that are deemed to impact the safety of the airplane, crew and its passengers. Those laws are there to protect everyone, however they are abused all of the time by the people who are supposed to protect our safety.
The latest example of a customer being arrested happened on a Frontier flight out of Las Vegas. Much of this encounter is on video, but basically the passenger found vomit on her seat and asked a flight attendant to clean it or to be moved. The flight attendant then told the customer to clean it and refused to move her despite there being open seats.
The video I saw (different from the one below) begins when the passenger is explaining the situation very calmy to a ground crew member who was called on the flight. Eventually the police were called and she continued to be calmed, but the police were asked to remove her from the plane. She ultimately resisted leaving and was arrested and charged with trespassing. Frontier even put out a statement defending their crew that clearly doesn’t mesh with the video. Very very classy move Frontier.
We Need Protection
My big question when a situation like this comes up is why haven’t the airlines put in place policies that protect passengers from rogue crew who escalate situations out of anger or in an effort to save face? While being rude to anyone is not the way I act or expect other people to act, it simply isn’t a reason to get arrested or kicked off of a plane. Plain and simple.
Why can’t airlines hold their entire crew accountable for a situation such as this? If one crew member wants to have someone kicked off of a plane the entire crew should have to agree to it. Make them all accountable for the decision to do this and I think you’ll see a lot less abuse of power.
I travel a lot and am often quite disgusted at how people treat each other in airports and on planes. Travel is stressful and exhausting and this leads to difficult scenarios that play out in airports across the world. What doesn’t seem to happen nearly as often around the world though is people getting arrested on airplanes.
Drunk With Power
We have created a culture of entitlement for airline employees in the United States. This culture was largely developed in our desire to stay safe following 9/11, but it has gotten out of hand. Constantly I see employees abusing customers. Most of the time it comes in the form of barking orders or generally just being rude, but I have seen threats and more severe situations play out as well.
Once again what it comes down to is the lack of a systematic focus on eliminating this disgusting behavior. I get that this job is stressful and hard, but so is most of customer service. The difference is that the average customer service worker doesn’t have the same degree of power to ruin a customer’s life. With great power comes great responsibility.
I understand that many airline workers are unionized and changes aren’t something the airlines can often do without negotiations, but this really has to stop. We need to not only hold airline employees accountable for the abuses that happen, but we also need to hold their coworkers responsible. Standing by and allowing passengers to suffer because of a vendetta or in spite is simply not acceptable. It also only hurts our safety. Cry wolf much?
Airline Workers Are Great
I want to close by saying I have circled the globe many many many times over the years and have spent a ton of time on airplanes. I have great respect for airline employees and find the vast majority to be wonderful people who do their job with a smile. Most of them understand their job is to actually protect passengers while also trying to make the experience a pleasant one. These few bad eggs are only making everyone’s jobs harder.
Yes, passengers often do things that affect the safety of a plane and warrant removal and I am all for crew members having the power to make that decision. What I am not for is the current system which seems to lack the checks and balances required to avoid abuse of power. An airline employee who abuses a passenger out of revenge creates just as much danger as a passenger who does the same.