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Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 3:28 am

Forgive me if anyone has posted this article already, but I haven't been around the site much in the last week. Anyway, I saw this story, and it seems to be a disturbing incident of what happens when everyone gets so spooked about air rage that no one is allowed to question stupid or rude service without getting the cuffs slapped on them. This article makes some good points towards the end about how airlines are blaming customers for their own poor treatment, and I was wondering what y'all thought. Especially since the trend by f/a unions, etc, is that they want more power to deny boarding and so on. My fear has always been that this power would be on:

Air rage, or outrage?

At 79, San Diegan an unlikely, but charged, airline disrupter
By Jenifer Hanrahan
August 22, 2001

American Airlines Flight 1265 started smoothly. It left on time from Dallas, headed for San Diego.

Harold Schneider settled into 5F, a first-class window seat. He was relieved to sit down.

At 79, his trip to visit his parents' grave left him worn out. He was brought to the gate in a wheelchair.

Harold Schneider

Just before takeoff, he asked a flight attendant for a Diet Sprite, no ice.

She told him he'd have to wait. That's when the trouble began.

What happened next is in some ways in dispute, but the basic facts aren't.

The airline would have you believe that Schneider -- a great-grandfather and World War II veteran -- posed such serious threat to the safety of the flight that the pilot had to make an emergency landing and call in the FBI.

Others have their doubts. At a time when airline service has hit all-time lows, they think Schneider is a casualty of war -- a war of words between angry airline customers and increasingly intolerant crews.

Schneider is facing up to 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines for "intimidating" and "interfering" with a crew member.

Even FBI Special Agent Gary Macnoll said the case against Schneider is hard to believe. Macnoll was armed and ready when the white-haired terror of the skies shuffled off the plane in Abilene, Texas.

The case, he said, ranks as the second strangest he's seen -- topped only by the one-armed, one-legged bank robber who crawled into the bank.

"If I were to write my memoirs, this would be in there," Macnoll said. "He's pretty frail."

If you can believe the headlines, the friendly skies have become a battleground.

Airline crews complain of chronic rudeness and obnoxiousness. There are the infamous stories of the man who defecated on the drink cart, and of the brawling twin sisters headed for a modeling competition in China who got dropped off in Anchorage.

"We call it the vulgarization of air travel," said John Hoff, a Chicago attorney who specializes in aviation issues. "The flip-flops and tank-top set has found its way to the airports from the bus depot."

But the truth is, the numbers don't support the view that air rage is on the rise. Reports of air rage incidents have remained largely stable in recent years.

Four million people fly daily, the most ever.

Yet in the past five years, the Federal Aviation Administration has received, on average, only 270 reports of unruly passengers a year.

During the last fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Justice charged 34 people with disrupting a flight by "interfering" with the crew, an increase from 24 in 1999, and 19 in 1998.

"You probably have less chance of being assaulted in an airplane or an airport than in any other public space, including places of employment and certainly the roadways," said Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project in Washington, D.C.

Of American Airlines' 250,000 flights last year, about 3,000 flights were diverted. Of those, 11 were diverted because of "passenger misconduct," compared with 165 for medical emergencies. Most of the rest were due to weather.

Harold Schneider might be the most unlikely character in this year's tally.

He was feeling relaxed but sad when he boarded American Airlines Flight 1265 at about 11 p.m. on May 5.

His wife, Beverly, had died in January.

After 63 years of marriage, he can hardly believe she's gone. "She was the sweetest girl," Schneider said, his eyes welling with tears.

He took the trip to New York to get out of his lonely house in Allied Gardens. His daughter got him the first-class ticket with her frequent-flier miles.

While the plane was still on the ground, Schneider asked for a Diet Sprite, no ice. It's customary for first-class passengers to be served drinks as soon as they board.

The flight attendant told him he'd have to wait. "I said OK," Schneider recalled.

Shortly after takeoff, he asked again.

This time a different flight attendant, Kathy Russell, told him he'd have to wait because they were approaching thunderstorms.

Then the flight attendant came back with a beer for the passenger seated next to him -- and salted nuts for Schneider.

"By this time, I'm steaming," Schneider recalled. "I said, 'Where's my Diet Sprite with no ice?' "

By the time she brought him the Diet Sprite, he didn't even want it. "I said, 'Take my nuts and my drink and get out of my sight.' "

In the FBI affidavit, the flight attendant said Schneider was "belligerent and verbally abusive." That he repeatedly shouted: "Bring me my drink now!"

And when she did, Schneider "pushed the drink back at Russell and yelled 'You take it' and 'you're nuts -- get away from me!' "

In her 26 years on the job, she told the FBI, she "had never before been this intimidated or frightened when confronted by a passenger."

The pilot, who never left the cockpit or gave Schneider a warning, announced on the public address system that the plane needed to stop for "gas."

"I thought that sounded ridiculous," Schneider said. "But I thought, 'Maybe gas is cheaper here in Texas.' "

Then he felt the plane begin to descend.

An hour into the flight, the pilot made an emergency landing in Abilene, Texas, where Schneider was escorted off the plane and arrested.

Schneider did not make threats.

He did not use profanity.

He never budged from his seat.

A few years ago, a pilot would not have made an emergency landing to drop off a passenger like Harold Schneider, flight attendants and air line officials admit.

Times have changed.

American Airlines supports the decision to boot Schneider off the plane.

A passenger need not be a physical threat to justify getting kicked off the plane -- just being disruptive or annoying to other passengers is enough, said John Hotard, a spokesman at American Airlines' Fort Worth headquarters.

"Our senior management once believed the customer was always right," Hotard said. "Well, today we don't have that view. There are some folks we do not want flying our airlines. Now we back up our flight attendants."

Earlier this summer, a union that represents airline workers held demonstrations at several airports to protest abuse of airline employees. Flight attendants are lobbying Congress and federal prosecutors to impose prison terms and hefty fines on passengers who give them a hard time.

Last year, Congress increased the penalty for interfering with a crew member from $1,100 to $25,000.

Most significantly, major U.S. carriers now have "zero tolerance" for "disruptive passengers."

Gate agents are told to bar anyone they deem rude or potentially threatening. Crews are encouraged to report cases of "unruly" passengers to police.

Earlier this month, United Airlines began including leaflets in ticket jackets explaining the consequences of misbehaving. The bright yellow brochure says: "Unruly behavior will not be tolerated."

Certainly, in some cases, there's good reason for that policy.

Two years ago, Stacy Fletcher, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline, was whacked in the face by a man when she tried to break up a fight between him and his girlfriend.

Shaken, she took self-defense courses. She put her fighting skills to use last year when a man shouted, "You out! Me Out! We Out!" and tried to open the airplane door while in flight.

Fletcher, 34, pinned him to the ground. The man spent the remainder of the flight in handcuffs, de rigueur flight equipment nowadays.

Violent incidents such as this -- and more generalized passenger discontent -- are taking a toll.

There are record delays and canceled flights. Space so cramped a rapidly reclined seat can take out your kneecaps. Ranch-flavored pretzels instead of a hot meal.

"Our patience level it not what it used to be either," said Fletcher, a flight attendant for 13 years. "Everybody is a little bit on edge. The crews get really tired of apologizing for the screw-ups of the company. If I'd had to say, 'I'm sorry this flight is delayed' one more time last summer I'd put a gun to my head."

When American Airlines Flight 1265 touched down, Schneider peered out the window and saw two Abilene police cruisers. His seat was still buckled when FBI agents appeared in the aisle.

With a local TV crew taping the action, he was handcuffed and taken to a local jail.

Schneider's daughter and son-in-law flew from San Diego to Texas, planning to bail him out. However, he was released the next day on his own recognizance and took a flight home.

Consumer advocates say Schneider's case is a supreme example of "zero tolerance" run amok.

"Zero tolerance," in borrowing from the lingo of the U.S. drug war, is tantamount to waging battle on the people that keep them in business.

"They are making minor incidents of rudeness into federal crimes," Hudson said. "There is a tendency by some airlines to look for scapegoats because the public is very obviously mad at the airlines."

No trial date has been set for Schneider. The assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case said it will probably be settled instead of going to trial.

Schneider said he has already suffered more than he deserves.

He was humiliated. He has paid $25,000 in legal fees. Worrying about the case has made his angina flare up.

"It's way out of line," he said. "Why it went this far, nobody can understand."

Airlines draw fine line between complaining and 'threatening'

August 22, 2001

If you have a problem with the service onboard an airplane, you'd better be careful not to complain too loudly -- or what happened to Harold Schneider could happen to you.

If Schneider had been in a restaurant, his crankiness would not have gotten him arrested.

But federal law and civil aviation code prohibit "threatening," "intimidating" or "interfering" with a flight crew member.

In the air, the line at which pushiness become intimidation, or complaining becomes interference, is not at all clear.

The captain of the airplane is permitted by law to do whatever is necessary to maintain safety and order. And flight attendants are far more than flying waitresses.

If a flight attendant tells you to buckle your seat belt, stow your luggage or sit down and keep quiet, do it or risk fines or arrest.

"Flight attendants are primarily cabin safety professionals," said Dawn Deeks, spokewoman for the Association of Flight Attendants in Washington, D.C. "That is their No. 1 job. Their service duties are completely secondary to that."

On an airplane, you can get away with some complaining. But you're better off expressing your unhappiness, in writing, when you're safely on the ground.

"Have some discretion," said John Hoff, a Chicago attorney who specializes in aviation issues. "If your meal is cold, you can politely say, 'Can I have a hot one'?' But don't let it escalate . . . At some point you may cross the threshold, and you'll be making your argument after your arrest."

-- Jenifer Hanrahan

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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 3:35 am

I agree that incident with the old guy was appalling, but it's a customer service issue with AA rather than air rage.
Air rage is no joke, when much younger able-bodied, often intoxicated pax do it.
Air rage is on the increase in the UK.

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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 3:51 am

Sure, of course it's not a laughing matter, but statistically, it's utterly miniscule in terms of dangers during a trip. (2 million people fly every day in the U.S.; there are 3,500 incidents of "air rage" every YEAR, of which only ten percent are serious enough to do anything about). you are surely more lilkely do die in a plane crash than at the hands of a crazy passenger, since no one has ever been killed!

my worry is that airlines and flight attendants might start using the law to say, "sit down and shut up - or you might be arrested."
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 4:07 am

BA very nearly lost a 747-436 in December over Africa when a deranged pax got into the cockpit.
You don't get more serious than that.
This guy was not intoxicated, plenty of others have tried the same and been stopped because booze/drugs has impaired their functioning, thus aiding crew restraining them.
Then there's the pricks who despite all the warnings about mobile-phone interference with electrical systems during certain flight phases, insist on using them when inappropriate. A few violent incidents have been caused by that situation.
Cabin-crew who overreact should be sacked and/or arrested.
What I fear is that a combination of violent pax coming up with lame excuses for bad behaviour, and blood-sucking lawyers defending them in court, will one day let one of these pax win a case against an airline.
With that precedent set, it will be open season on F/A's and ground staff.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 4:13 am

If this person was indeed threatening the crew (and we have only his own words to counter that) and they no longer felt safe, it was best for the flight and the service of the airline (to the other passengers) to have him taken off the plane.
Had he not been apprehended, who knows what might have happened.
I wish I were flying
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 5:20 am

Pardon me, Jwenting?

The man was almot 80 years old and needed a wheelchair to get to his flight. What was he going to do to threaten the safety of the flight?

If a frail elderly man were to say "take back my drink and get the hell out of my sight" in a restaurant, it seems bloody unlikely that the police would cuff him and haul him off to jail for reckless endangerment! After all, in a restaurant, he could stab someone with a fork!  Yeah sure

Back to the topic, this was horribly overblown. I'm sure that witnesses will testify to the fact that the man posed no danger to the flight.
Get your patchouli stink outta my store!
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 5:41 am

Congratulations, AerLingus, you win the prize for being the only person here to understand the story and not get caught up in it's-for-our-own-good hsyteria. I hope that the cabin crew responsible for this gets fired (not likely -- thanks, unions!) and this guy files a tidy lawsuit againts AA, which is generally my favorite domestic airline.

And JWenting, what gives you the notion that cabin crew are somehow more trustworthy than pax?
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 5:47 am


PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 6:00 am

It's amazing the cabin crew has so little knowledge about dealing with old people. Old people are like children, if they are thirsty, they want their drink now not later. Especially when the guy next to you is getting his. The FA should have understood that.

This reminds me of the incident a couple of years ago when a bunch of NW planes were stuck in snow at DTW for several hours and an FA directed a passenger to sit down when he stood up to stretch and threatened to have him arrested for disobeying an order.

The problem is, give a group a bit of authority and many will abuse it.

Maybe the lawyer from Montana who just won the $1.25M is getting ideas.

"In God we trust, everyone else bring data"
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 6:06 am

I also agree with Aer Lingus. This is worse then the 0 Tolerance laws going around in the public schools after the Columbine shootings. Two small kids in my area were actually suspended and were arrested for ready? Pointing fingers at other students in a gun like moting and said POW. The teacher on duty found that "Treatening behavoir" How many of us didn't play that game as kids. The unfortionate thing about these 0 tolerance laws is that common sense and personal freedoms become casualties. In some High schools you can't even wear black trenchcoats or dress Gothic at all!!! Since when was marshal law declared!?!

I think the nation along with the Legeslators and law enforcement takes a step back and think what is a real threat and what is a waste of our time and $$$$.

A footnote. The judge had enoguh sense to dismiss the case. Hopefully the judge in Texas will do the same. I had acted that way towards a racist British Airways supervisor at JFK who was disrespectful to my parents in the summer of 1998 at T 7. Luckily the officers on duty saw it my way and the whole thing was taken care off within mutes and we made our flight on time. If airlines want air rage to go away then they need to hire more employees and give them better training on how to handle things including different ways of handling air rage .
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 8:12 am

What irks me is that in almost all the media reports on air-rage or so-called air rage, there's always some mention of how crowded the planes are, how long the delays, how little service is offered, as though deep down there is some justification for assaulting aircrew or groundcrew. Makes no difference if your plane is delayed, or his ancestors murdered your ancestors, violence is never an appropriate response to anything. I wonder if journalists who take the line would also understand if someone felt the treatment they got from a newspaper was so bad they decided to start swinging, or if a lawyer would understand in a similar situation?
Matt D
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 8:14 am

I agree. This incident only illustrates that FA's today are nothing about safety and everything about (abusing) power. Arresting a 79 year old man (who represents no physical threat whatsoever) in a wheelchair over a soda is absolutely preposterous and illustrates just how bad things have gotten, not only from a customer service standpoint, but F/A's clearly determined to overstep their boundaries.

It seems that as of late, most airlines-especially the Majors have only gotten adept at keeping their competent staff at a safe distance from their custmers while bullying and intimidating said customers for no real good reason.

This incident got blown way out of proportion. All of the AA personnel involved should not only lose their jobs, but should also have charges filed against THEM for being the catalyst behind this incident. This has got to be the most airtight case of harassment I've ever seen.

Although I have to side with the pax on this one, make no mistake about it. I still believe that the pax and airlines alike are equally to blame for this state of "air rage" mania. It's a cause and effect situation that frankly, the airlines bring on themselves. This starts with rude staff, lies, unexplained delays, and so on. But it also starts with people having too high of expectations. If you are flying on a low fare airline, a safe flight and maybe a bag of peanuts and Coke are all you should expect, and little more. And having profesional, courteous staff should be a given, no matter what level of airline you are travelling on.

Please spare me the sob stories about gate and counter agents and Flight Attendents dealing with 300 irate passengers during a delay or cancellation. That's their job. It is to be profesional and courteous, even in situations that may be frustrating, aggravating, or actually dangerous. If they can't or won't handle that, then they need to get into a new profession. It's that simple.

And yes, any passenger that behaves in a genuinely threatening manner should be dealt with accordingly. But people are people, and what do you think is going to happen when they are placed into those situations that air rage is borne from? If the airlines would actually address these shortcomings, then we probably won't have these incidents to begin with. Can you think of a better way to avoid air rage?

But the airlines and their Unions don't see it that way unfortunately. They'd rather "take control" of the situation, and have someone arrested at their discretion rather than make the effort to do what they are supposed to do and fix their own problems. It's the biggest collective act of cowardice and power grabbing I've ever seen. What do thee airlines want to do? Improve service? Be honest with their customers? Be nice to their customers? Publish realistic arrival and departure times? No, they'd rather arrest someone.

F/A's are there to serve. And in the unlikely event of trouble, to assist. That's it. They are not Bouncers. They are not law enforcers.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 9:33 am


Funnily enough, I am a journalist by trade, and when a reporter talks about conditions that led up to an attack, it's what is called balanced reporting. When you are covering a trend -- which journalists love to do in this case -- you have to point to reasons for it. Things don't happen in a vacuum. In fact, I would think that you would be happy with the press, considering that they have taken a statistically miniscule phenomenon that happens with one out of every couple of hundred thousand passengers, at most, and given it a catchy title that everyone knows. I don't think I've ever seen a reporter suggest that violence is justified; what they are doing is suggesting conditions that lead to violence. If a newspaper runs a story about, say, a riot, and talks about the conditions or events leading up to it, are they justifying it? Well, maybe if they are the New York Times. But not a responsible news organization.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 9:50 am

Matt D - You're absolutely right. In fact, you just got me thinking (ouch!)

The problem is too many pax, not enough staff, delays, errors, unfulfilled expectations, etc. My first thought is that airline employees should be patient and professional. But I can understand them getting torqued when a passenger is rude or demanding. So they lash back, even though they shouldn't. Then we see an escalation, and a Harold Schneider incident ensues.

Maybe they should all wear a "panic button" that they can press to immediately summon fresh help. (Like a genie in a bottle.) Sometimes, a new face injected into an altercation can smooth things out.

I only lost my cool one time (I'm a pretty laid back kind of guy) and threatened to have a gate agent fired, but she fortunately did the right thing. Here is what happened:

I was about to board an evening flight at CVG to BTV (they don't fly there anymore) after having arrived from JAN. I was denied boarding because the flight was oversold. The Comair agent rerouted me via DL to BOS the same evening, then a 7 am flight on Business Express from BOS to BTV. (I got a free Comair ticket for denied boarding) I did not even demand they pay for the hotel in Boston.

I arrived in BOS as planned, and next morning showed up at the gate for BTV. Well, guess what -- the flight coupon was missing, the turkey in CVG accidently tore it out, leaving me with only the receipt. The agent just shrugged, said that wasn't their fault, so I should go back to the counter and get it fixed and take the next flight.

That was the wrong thing to say! I told her I don't give a damn whose fault it is, I will be on the 7 am flight or I will make sure she gets fired. I then went back to the counter (past the security, of course), found a redcoat who fixed the ticket in about 5 minutes and, wonder of wonders - the agent was waiting for me at the security and ushered me through right to the plane, which left about 5 minutes late because of this fiasco.

Here is an example of a gate agent who recognized my frustration and backed off. I respect that. Others should emulate that kind of behavior and the airlines should train their people that way.


"In God we trust, everyone else bring data"
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 10:48 am

It's interesting how sure many of you are about this guy being harmless when none of you were there. Also, he wasn't in a restaurant, he was onboard a US civilian airliner, and there are laws to protect everyone onboard. As far as the crew getting sacked, people just don't get it...the sheepish "sky kittens" disappeared with deregulation. I've said it before...nobody in the US likes to take crap from anyone, regardless of thier position in life. And whats more, we don't have to because we live and work in the USA. I'm a firm believer in providing good service, but don't scream at me because we ran out of blankets or you didn't get to sit with your buddy. I'm also tired of hearing that Flight Attendants enforcing FAR's are on a "power trip." The less we have to say to you about putting that phone away or bringing that seat back up, (which incidentally, is another one of those rules that hasn't changed in at least 20 years) the better. We all have to pass background checks before getting hired, so yeah, maybe we are more trustworthy than the average passenger.
Matt D
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Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:08 am

You're absolutely right. None of us were there. But let's also be realistic. How much of a threat can a 79 year old man bound to a wheelchair (who has cleared airport security) possibly be?

Nobody here is talking about not upholding FAR rules as you mentioned. That is an entirely separate issue. What we are referring to is the F/A's apparently ov the belief that it is now a crime to be "cranky", "moody", or just plain having a bad day.

Last time I checked, there was no law against being a grouch, as long as it ends there.

When being crabby escalates into a full bore physical confrontation, then you're right. It's an entirely different set of rules. When innocent peoples lives are jeapordized, then the perpetrator needs to be dealt with.

As for your assertion that no on likes to take crap from anyone, while true, sometimes the facts of life state that that's what you get paid to do. You just gotta take it with grain of salt. You want to go into that profession, with front line interaction with the public, and get all of those benefits (i.e. non-revving)? Fine, but sometimes, you gotta take the good with the bad.
Again, call me ignorant, but it escapes me why anyone would want to go into a service industry and...actually provide service...and have a problem doing so.

Show me ANY service industry (with the anomalous exception being air travel) where the employees can be rude, beligerrent, and downright hostile to the customers more than once and still have a job, and I'll give you a brand new 747-400.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:14 am

Try everywhere. Contrary to what you may think, when we're not out there trodding on the meek and the elderly, we have lives and go to restaurants and shop. Oh, yeah, we stay in hotels alot, too. If I gave the type of service I usually receive, I probably would get punched alot. I'd like my jumbo painted candy apple red, please.
Matt D
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:19 am

Exactly what is 'everywhere'? Can you be a little more specific?

I can be one of the biggest pricks out there, and it's still relativly rare that I run into someone anywhere where the service was so abysmal that it required Federal intervention. 98 times out of a hundred, it was adequate, if not, then spectacular. The 99th time will make me think twice about going there again. And only that one out a 100 times will I actually escalate the situation.

Here's a revolutionary thought for you:

If everywhere you go, people are treating you like @$$holes, then maybe the problem doesn't lie with them. Maybe the problem does, in fact, lie with you.

Maybe instead of trying to change th world, maybe you should try changing yourself (youself BTW is a collective term for F/A's, and not you specifically).

Sorry, but I don't buy into the concept of the F/A's being right, and everyone else being wrong.

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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:22 am

Agreed, Matt. Being unpleasant isn't a violation of any law, let alone a FAR. If it were, rest assured there would be a shortage of airline employees.

By the way, I think that Vistajetstew's attitude clearly illustrates employee beligerrance. I have no problem with flight attendants, in fact I wish some would do a BETTER job of enforcing the rules, but when they b**** and moan about doing their job, I sincerely have to wonder why they choose the occupation in which they work to begin with!
Get your patchouli stink outta my store!
Matt D
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:25 am

Thanks AerLingus. That last post earned you a spot on my RUL.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:32 am

^^  Big thumbs up, Stew.
Get your patchouli stink outta my store!

RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Sun Aug 26, 2001 11:35 am

It is rediculous that this happened to a man who is almost 80 years old! How much could he have done??

I can see it from both prospectives though...

(Talknig about rage in general)
Passengers may be frusterated over delayed or cancled flights, but that does not give them the right to absuse or thretin an airline employee, because that is the kind of crap that will land you in jail. A lot of times (but not all the time) it is the passenger that starts all of the mess at the gate, and then the Agent is blamed for being rude or unprofessional. Some will be rude or unproffessional because they get defensive, and they absolutely refuse to be talked to in such a manner. Sometimes, you have to be a little loud to get something straightened out, but threats and violence is absolutely unnacceptable!


Airline employees should be a little more respectful also. It isn't easy when you've been traveling for 17 hours and then find out that your connecting flight is overbooked, or once you've finnaly gotten on the plane, ask the flight attendant for a drink and it not be dilevered at all. But like I said before, threats and violence is not acceptable. People bring their problems to work with them and someone ends up paying for it. (Some) F/A's and gate agents complain about all of the stuff that they have to put up with, well...get another job or find some way to handle it. Don't get an attitude and bring everyone else down!

It is obserd (sp?) that a man almost 80 years old was arrested just because he raised his voice a little, or got frusterated because his drink wasn't delivered.
Matt D
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Mon Aug 27, 2001 7:40 am


Looks like once again, your argument, as with most F/A's here that try and defend their militant holier-than-thou attitude, has collapsed like a house of cards.

Why do I get the impression that if many F/A's had their way, the passengers would be serving THEM?
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Mon Aug 27, 2001 8:00 am

Ha! Very good, Matt D.

But in fairness, I really think it's not the majority of f/as who are a problem, but something is seriously wrong in this sort of case. The problem is that there are some people who, you put them in a uniform, and they're gonna dig the power. And unions and so on with their zero tolerance paranoia (this was an 80 year old man who was just upset!) only empower these schmucks, who start a vicious cycle of bad treatment on both sides.

The other problem, I think, are those people/pax who are too willing to accept either bad or rude service and accept that, well, if it's for our own good, i'm all for it. This is the road to a soft totalitarianism.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Mon Aug 27, 2001 8:39 am

First of all, it's rather pathetic that a 79 year-old great grandfather and WW2 veteran behaves like a petulant brat: When he was finally delivered his Sprite, he shoved it back and said he didn't want it.
I can understand the FA's anger but surely there are better ways of dealing with a grumpy old man?

Most importantly though, if I were one of the other passengers, I would be mightily pissed off that the flight was diverted (and my journey delayed) because of an incident like this.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Mon Aug 27, 2001 2:42 pm

Just to add to what Toady has said...what about the cost of diverting? Wouldn't this have cost AA several thousands of dollars?

I understand that when pax physically attack someone, or use their physical size to intimidate cabin crew, taking actions such as these are justified. But I think that unless the passenger presents a legitimate threat, which this elderly gentleman obviously didn't, flight attendents shouldn't be so quick to hit the panic button.

I am remind of an 'Air Rage' story I read in Canada's National Post newspaper not too long ago. This passenger was banned from all Canada 3000 flights for life, and fined by the government of Canada for simply talking about air disasters with a fellow passenger. From what I recall from the article, the man wasn't threatening anyone, but was kicked off the plane, issued no refund for his ticket, and subsequently band from C3 flights for simply talking about air crashs. He eventually appealed and won, but this is still in the same ball park as the story of Mr. Schneider. I am sickened to think that an idol conversation about air crashs might get me band from the airline.
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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Tue Aug 28, 2001 1:23 am

Here's another article about the same subject from the passenger's point of view which was published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle back in October.

Dear airlines: We travelers are the good guys.

I think the incident at the Delta gate is a clear case of airline personnel overusing their "authority" if the situation actually happened as it was reported.


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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Tue Aug 28, 2001 6:35 pm

While I have only cross-read most of the replies (as usual, a bit too personal, don't you think?), I have read the article in-depth, and my initial thoughts were "only in America." No offence, and I certainly don't feel Europeans are above Americans, but I can't imagine one of the flights I'm on being diverted that easily.

Being as objective as possible, and judging by what's been said in the article, I too cannot imagine the safety of this particular flight being at risk. Someone wrote something about "unpleasant" not being the same as "unsafe", and I couldn't agree more. Personally, I would see it more as a (granted: commercial) challenge to make this passenger happy again. If a line like "Get out of my sight" shakes you to the core, in all due respect, you may not have the job that most suits you, dealing with people. When push comes to shove, you can always simply ignore the really uneducated ones for an hour or so.

Let's not turn this incident into a case of "F/A's think they're better than the rest of us", though. A little mutual respect would go a long way. Not to mention I would personally appreciate a little less generalisation.

Best regards,

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RE: Has Air Rage Hysteria Gone Too Far?

Tue Aug 28, 2001 7:17 pm

The passenger was an old man who had very lower-class attitudes. People who get something for free have NO RIGHT whatsoever to complain about service. The low class members of our society, however, will snivel and whine and act as if they're being treated inferior to the paying passengers. They want everything their way in order to fulfill their crazy stupid entitlement images of themselves.

If somebody offers you something, you either take it or graciously decline. There is no reason to make a public case out of imagined irregularities in service. Writing a letter delivers much better returns. There are always alternate methods of communication. Old guys like that saw their comrades die on the beaches of Okinawa and have been supported by our grateful society for years. They have no cause to be bitter.

I personally think that the flight attendants would have been better off simply shifting this guy back to steerage where he would receive no Coke at all.

I figure that the old guy gets a lifetime ban and the flight attendant get reassigned with a salary cut - she obviously met her limit in unreasonable passengers. That seems pretty equitable for both sides.

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