My Recent Experience With Crazy Passengers On Airplanes (Flying Southwest)

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My Experience With Crazy Passengers On Airplanes (Flying Southwest)

My Experience With Crazy Passengers On Airplanes (Flying Southwest)

Crazy passengers on airplanes are on the rise, and they are causing a lot of problems. We’ve talked about some of those incidents here and here. The FAA is handing out record fines for problems in airports and on flights. Here’s my experience on a recent Southwest flight with a problematic passenger.

What Happened

My wife and I flew on Southwest from Orlando MCO to Chicago MDW. In the waiting area at the gate, my wife pointed out a really large male who was talking unnecessarily loudly, with his mask down below his chin. She commented that he seemed drunk and wondered if he would cause problems. Turns out, she was right.

When they called for pre-boarding, this man walked to the gate with his cane, showing an obvious limp. Due to disability, he wanted to pre-board. The gate agents turned him away, noting that he seemed drunk. They denied him boarding and told him to go to the customer service counter (immediately next to our gate) to arrange to fly later.

Note that this was the last flight of the night to Chicago–leaving at 9:15pm.

The man began screaming at and berating the employees. The employees telling him he couldn’t board were black women. He was a white man. He began accusing them of being racist against him, threatening to beat them up–the whole 9 yards of crazy passengers you’ve seen on videos in airplanes and airports.

It Gets More Interesting

This man was traveling with his sister. She boarded without him and was seated 2 rows behind us. Through all of this toddler tantrum a man in his 60s was throwing outside, boarding went on without him. Including his sister.

The gate agents came onto the plane after boarding was completed, telling the sister that this man’s wallet was apparently in her backpack. She said she wasn’t getting off the plane, and why did he need his wallet?

The Ban Hammer

The Southwest gate agents told the woman that her brother needed his wallet to buy a new ticket. From his threats toward employees, they had banned him from Southwest. He needed his wallet so he could buy a ticket to fly on another airline, likely not happening tonight.

Oh, and the police were outside waiting to escort him out of the airport as soon as he retrieved his wallet.

We also got delayed while they located his luggage to get it off the plane.

Final Thoughts

Crazy passengers on airplanes and other incidents at airports are at all-time highs. This is a big part of why airlines aren’t selling alcohol. There is simply no need for this type of behavior, when travel is stressful enough as it is. Whether you like the rules or not, you agreed to follow them when you checked in and got your boarding pass. And flight crews & gate agents have a rough job; they are still people, so let’s treat them like it.

I’m really, really glad Southwest stood up for its people and banned this passenger from its airline.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. The guy was apparently drunk and disruptive. He rightfully got denied boarding. No discussion there. Period.

    Let’s talk about some of the odd behavior of the airlines and their flight attendants. We’ve all read and heard about them requiring small children to wear masks etc. My wife and I have been flying throughout the pandemic at least once a month and I can tell you the behavior and attitude of the flight attendants has become worse. From keeping your mask on, cover your nose, to put it back on between taking a drink and/or a bite. In the meantime we’re all sitting close together again and they want us to believe that a mask is the cure all. I won’t get disorderly or disruptive but these flight attendants are certainly not helping.

    • Counterpoint: they don’t make policy, and they have to enforce it whether they agree with it or not. If they don’t enforce it, they lose their jobs. Flight attendants have a rough job, and it’s only become more demanding this past year–without an increase in pay.

      • Maybe. Then airlines should enforce it more consistent. Same airline, different day, you can have a total different experience. I understand it’s federally mandated to wear masks when flying. But sometime in my experience it feels the flight attendants are on a power trip.

  2. I think the same amount of rowdy people, but airlines are simply more empowered to do the right ‘tough’ things now. Which is best for everyone. I once saw a similar situation where the guy insisted on being arrested even though his kids were right there. Nuttiness.

  3. I am curious about more technical details about the ban. I wonder if a station agent can simply ban a passenger, or if they must confer with corporate security. Also its not clear how long the ban was for, for the night, the week, life, etc.? I’m also curious if they refunded the original ticket. I’m also curious say 2 or 5 years down the road, how much do they really enforce a ban? Do they have both the tehcnical IT systems and business processes to enforce bans?

    • While I don’t know the answer to a lot of that, I do know that if you are denied boarding/kicked off a flight due to being disruptive or drunk, you don’t have any rights to a refund.

  4. Wait a minute now… he wasn’t on the airplane so you can’t title your piece “My Recent Experience With Crazy Passengers On Airplanes” More like “My Recent Experience With Crazy Passengers At The Gate.”
    There… now that we’ve got that straightened out… can’ wait to hear about the next dofus at the gate or on the plane! 🙂

    • Exactly, everyone with access to publication needs to double down to avoid fake news. Every word counts, the major “news” sources are already leading us around by the nose, this hobby should be a safe place. OMG, did I just write, “safe place….” See what they do to you if you’re not careful!

  5. They need to not only ban disruptive and threatening passengers, but create an industry-wide blacklist and publicize it. No amount of incremental revenue from these criminals is worth having an inflight incident or injury from their behavior. At some point, I can see mental health advocates getting involved, as apparently that group believes their “rights” supersede others.


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