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Airline Etiquette

Abusive Behavior Aboard Aircraft Worsens

Larry Benedict
In our August ‘95 issue of TravelASSIST Magazine we tackled the problem of unruly behavior by airline passengers. Today, a year later, the situation has become so severe that numerous task forces are being set up by the airline industry to find ways to deal with abusive passengers and antisocial behavior aboard aircraft.

One task force, organized by the Association of Flight Attendants that represents the cabin crews of 23 airlines, will develop enforcable standards and request tougher penalties for obstreperous or abusive passengers who, today, are seldom prosecuted for their acts. In particular, the regulations on interfering with flight crews need to be made clearer and airlines should report altercations to the FBI, according to the union. (The FBI is the agency with jurisdiction over interstate matters, including air travel).

Cutbacks in service along with fewer flight attendants and decreased legroom are added stressors for passengers who may have already endured overcrowding and canceled flights. According to flight attendants, hot breakfasts were once served on flights as brief as 45 minutes whereas now passengers are lucky to get coffee on the same flight.

Business passengers are frequently guilty of misbehavior and their companies could easily be held liable for their acts. These same companies are reluctant to educate their employees on the social requirements of business travel, fearing that ill-will would result from the suggestion that employees were capable of such behavior.

There could be no harm however, in holding short seminars on stress management and the loss of control that can result from fatigue, overcrowding, alcohol and frustration. A dialog between travel suppliers and travel departments of companies has been suggested along with stricter policing in the air.

It can be enormously frustrating to travelers who are faced with real problems and little if any time to solve them when they are unable to find someone in authority able to make things right. Cutbacks in airline staff have not helped this situation.

Under the circumstances, it seems appropriate to revive last year’s article on airline etiquette. Following the guidelines outlined below now will do more than simply help distressed passengers save face, it could save them (or their companies) large amounts of money in fines and damages or even jail time for misbehavior in the extreme. We learned of one corporate flier who jumped up and relieved himself on the food cart in full view of the other passengers. That act cost his company $50,000 in damages and restitution.

Extra -- This just in:

Airline Etiquette

Passengers struggle to keep the skies friendly.

Larry Benedict

There is a groundswell of resistance building among airline passengers who are being subjected to bad manners and inconsiderate behavior by their fellow travelers. As airlines downsize and cut back on amenities in an effort to survive economically, it seems that a growing number of passengers lack the basic forms of social interaction required to make the flight a pleasant one.

Most travelers feel uneasy over who will occupy the seat next to them in the best circumstances. Cabin space in an aircraft is so restricted there's little can be done but bear it, if your neighbor is less than a desirable traveling companion. Someone who spent hours online looking for the cheapest ticket they could find.

The person who squeezes past your knees just as you are "settling-in" will be the person you're stuck with for the entire flight. If they have a cold, you have a cold. If they have a baby you have a baby. If they spend the next six hours on the telephone making deals, you will share their experience.

Much inconsiderate behavior can be regarded as a nuisance, if its limited to a short period of time and at a respectable distance. The same nuisance, however, occurring within inches of your face and lasting several hours will undermine the enjoyment of your trip. We have compiled some common nuisances that should never occur in the first place but are becoming familiar situations on every flight. Do you recognize anyone from the following?

Now we've identified the offenses let's see if we can come up with remedies for at least a few.

The Incessant Talker

The Baby

The Carry-On Abuser.

The drunk

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