By Veronica Mackey
Fight and flight. Trouble on the tarmac. Pick any clever-sounding phrase you like to describe the recent rash of airline passenger altercations, and it could very well apply.
There was once a time, back in the day, when folks actually dressed up to travel on a plane. It really was that big of a deal. Now, comfort is king. And rightfully so, because you could be literally waiting at an airport for hours—not to catch your flight—but because the airline decided to overbook you . Or you may have to run and get out of the way of angry passengers—disgruntled employees—or both. Worse yet, this may happen while you’re on the plane.
It pays to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. But don’t dress too casually, though. Three teenage girls found that out the hard way when they were denied seats on a United Airlines flight because they wore leggings—apparently a big “no-no.” There is a double standard here. The girls were flying on a pass, which makes them less valuable to the airline company. The “no-leggings” rule doesn’t apply to full fare customers.
And of course, there is that viral video of the Chinese man, Dr. Dao, being dragged off a United flight by security officials—bloody face and all--because he refused to give up his paid-for seat. Ironically, he was asked to give up his seat for a United employee who worked in customer service and needed to travel to another airport.
Officials say Dao was randomly selected, but I say “hogwash.” The bullies took one look at the older, non-American, small-framed man and thought they found an easy prey. An unnamed source said the good doctor has agreed to an undisclosed settlement of around $10 million.
United is not the only airline with “unfriendly skies” lately. An American Airlines pilot was grounded when he threatened passengers over a baby stroller. A man reported that a ticket agent cancelled his flight from San Francisco to New Orleans over a baggage fee.
On Sunday, an airport in Ft. Lauderdale was the scene of a near-riot, when Spirit Airlines canceled 11 flights. Officials blamed the melee on a work dispute with pilots. Tempers flared and customers began fighting with pilots and each other.
Also on Sunday, a couple of passengers went at it aboard a Southwest fight that had just landed in Burbank. A flight attendant who tried to stop it, ended up at the bottom of the dog pile, as one man punched another man who was on top of her. It wasn’t clear what caused the brawl, but one man of the men was arrested.
Air travel sure ain’t what it used to be. And on top of that, airlines are now planning on reducing leg space. As if we aren’t cramped enough. That said, if you plan on traveling this summer, be ready. Gather your mental faculties, learn the airline rules, and bring a pair of boxing gloves. I don’t know if they’re allowed, but you may want to at least invest in martial arts. I’m just sayin’…