Global Impact: Being a Considerate Airline Passenger in an Unruly, Unkind World Aloft
According to The Seattle Times, squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces, airline passengers appear to be rebeling, taking their frustrations out on other fliers.
Three US flights made unscheduled landings in late August after passengers got into fights over the ability to recline their seats. Disputes over a tiny bit of personal space might seem petty, but for passengers whose knees are already banging into tray tables, every inch counts.
“Seats are getting closer together,” says Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines. “We have to deescalate conflict all the time.”
There are fights over overhead bin space, legroom and where to put winter coats.
“We haven’t hit the end of it,” Nelson says. “The conditions continue to march in a direction that will lead to more and more interpersonal conflict.”
COMMENT: If anything, perhaps the 19 airlines which represent 60,000 flight attendants should take overt steps to enhance the travel experience rather that rendering it as miserable as possible to the point that airline passengers begin to examine other travel alternatives, including rail, cruise-ship and other options with less density, discomfort, etc. Let's be honest. No global citizen enjoys being EXTORTED and taken advantage of! Yet, that is precisely what is occurring thanks to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which represents the majority of international carriers. My message to IATA: Yes, make a profit, but don't GOUGE customers you seemingly value! Admittedly, airlines, like any commercial entity, do have to make a profit, but at what cost? Intentionally harassing of airline passengers to the point that they are arrested?
Back in June 2014, I offered our readers the following advice relative to "Being a Considerate Airline Passenger in an Ever-Increasing Unruly World":
In light of THE SEATTLE TIMES piece, I'm providing once again my popular blog STAYING SAFE ABROAD in order to maintain appropriate decorum aloft: http://stayingsafeabroad.blogspot.com/2014/06/tip-of-day-being-considerate-airline
Airlines today are juggling terror warnings in Britain, an Ebola outbreak in Africa and an erupting Icelandic volcano threatening to close down European airspace. Yet the issue of disruptive passengers has captured the world’s attention.
It’s getting to the point where the pre-flight safety videos need an additional warning: "Be nice to your neighbor."
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) calls unruly passengers “an escalating problem,” saying there was one incident for every 1,300 flights in the past three years.
It can cost an airline $6,000 an hour, plus airport landing fees, to divert the standard domestic jet, according to independent airline analyst Robert Mann.
“These costs are among the reasons why airlines ought to be arbitrating these in-flight issues instead of diverting aircraft, not to mention the significant inconvenience to all customers and possible disruption of onward connections,” Mann said,
Today’s airline experience is far from glamorous what it used to be. Passengers wait in long lines for security screening, push and shove at the gate to be first on board and then fight for the limited overhead bin space. They are already agitated by the time they arrive at their row and see how cramped it is.
To boost their profits, airlines have been adding more rows of seats to planes in the past few years, all the while reducing flights and making even more money!
Southwest and United both took away one inch from each row on certain jets to make room for six more seats. American is increasing the number of seats on its Boeing 737-800s from 150 to 160. Delta installed new, smaller toilets in its 737-900s, enabling it to squeeze in an extra four seats. And to make room for a first-class cabin with lie-flat beds on its transcontinental flights, JetBlue cut one inch of legroom for coach passengers.
Airlines say passengers won’t notice because the seats are being redesigned to create a sense of more space. Southwest’s seats have thinner seat-back magazine pockets, Alaska Airlines shrank the size of tray tables and United moved the magazine pocket, getting it away from passengers’ knees.
But passengers aren’t just losing legroom; they’re losing elbow room.
Airlines sold 84% of their seats on domestic flights so far this year, up from 81% five years ago and 74% a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That means that there are fewer and fewer empty middle seats, enabling crowded passengers to spread out.
I retired from the US State Department in April 2006, after a career as a special agent, Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO), director of training, chief investigator of the Cyprus Missing Persons Program, director of security of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and as a senior adviser in the Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance.
My book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD: TRAVELING, WORKING AND LIVING IN A POST-9/11 WORLD was published in May 2008.
A complete update of STAYING SAFE ABROAD 2015, will be release during early 2015 for the iPad, Kindle and Nook and other e-readers.
I am a former Federal Firearms Dealer (US), a certified NRA pistol instructor and a certified NRA Range Safety Officer.
My career has also included 15 years as an international security consultant; for ten years I served as the security adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank.
I additionally, served six years in the Marines, which included combat service in Vietnam.
I am available for operational assignments, lecturing opportunities and in providing security solutions anywhere in the world.