Flying has never been my favorite way to travel.
Sometimes it’s unavoidable, of course. But if I’ve got a choice between an 8-hour drive versus dealing with airports, delays, crowds, potential cancellations, etc., I’ll take the driver’s seat, please.
That having been said, I have to admit that most of my airline experiences over the years have been fair to good. I recently had the need to fly twice on business — once to Indianapolis and once to Atlanta. In both cases, beyond minor delays in takeoffs, things went pretty smoothly.
I did have one trip a while back in which a connecting flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, back to Harrisburg was canceled. I wound up renting a car and driving the rest of the way.
I also do think airlines could do a significantly better job explaining delays or long waits on the tarmac.
Inconveniences aside, though, there is never any legitimate reason for any airline passenger to be loud, obnoxious, and belligerent.
Lately, though, that’s happening with concerning frequency.
The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) website reported last week that as of July 13, it had received 3,420 unruly passenger reports this year. Of those, about three-quarters involved passengers refusing to comply with the still-existing mask mandates.
The July 13 data also showed 555 cases had risen to the level of official investigations. By comparison, according to the Associated Press, the FAA investigated just about 140 cases a year for possible enforcement each of the previous 10 years.
Most of you have probably seen videos of some of these passengers behaving unbelievably badly on the TV news. If you haven’t, trust me. There are people getting completely out of control, badgering flight attendants and putting other passengers at risk.
Such behavior isn’t simply abysmal. It’s against federal law and always has been.
Yes, there may be some passengers whose health issues contribute to some of these incidents.
From what I’ve read, though, these problems are more often borne of irrational anger or self-righteousness. That so many of these incidents are related to the mask mandate is really no surprise. If you don’t think you should have to wear one for a few minutes in a store, you’re sure not going to want to wear one for hours on a plane.
There’s no justification for any of that, but some seem to feel these days that any time they feel wronged, they are justified in exploding.
To be fair, as airline executives quickly point out, the number of these incidents represents a minuscule percentage of the overall paying public. Transportation Security Administration airport screenings recently topped 2 million a day, the highest since before the pandemic was declared in March 2020. The majority of those who fly are behaving themselves.
But put yourself in the shoes of a flight attendant, who is already working hard, maybe got laid off during the height of the pandemic, and still has a reason for personal health concerns. The last thing they need is someone being a jerk.
Things have gotten so bad that last month, the AP reported that the airlines and unions for flight attendants and pilots sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department urging “that more be done to deter egregious behavior.”
The requirement to wear a mask in airports and on all airlines is scheduled to be in place at least until mid-September.
Disagree all you want, but taking your frustrations out on flight attendants just trying to do their jobs and get all passengers to their destinations safely is simply wrong.
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