Don’t fly stressed!
Recently, I took a trip to California from Denver on United. Once the passengers got settled, the usual safety briefing did not happen, instead the captain came out of the cockpit and grabbed the intercom to address the plane. In my travels this was a bit of a surprise, so everyone around me was paying attention to the captain rather than talking and getting themselves settled.
The captain began by telling the passengers that he knew flying was a stressful experience, but the crew and all United employees go out of their way to make the time onboard as easy and seamless as possible. He continued and talked about everyone at certain times in their lives can find themselves having a bad day. He explained that a bad day can be made worse by consuming alcohol and said that he would like to take a few moments before the plane left the gate to allow anyone who might like to get off the plane to have a chance to do so. He did not deliver this in an accusatory fashion, rather it was a sympathetic and understanding way. He waited for a few moments to see if any passengers would be taking him up on his offer, then closed his remarks by saying that he hoped we had a great flight and felt comfortable knowing that nobody on board would be causing any trouble.
Heading it off at the pass
I appreciated the captain taking this moment to discuss a topic that we have all seen too often. According to the FAA, there were 1,987 reports of unruly passengers in 2023, this marked an 80% drop compared to 2021. While the number of incidents has dipped considerably, last year saw some attention-grabbing moments, any of which can be researched with a simple Google search. Of note is a passenger named Tiffany Gomas’ viral meltdown where she declared another passenger “not real.”. I’d like to think that this short talk had a result of not only quelling any potential issues that passengers may have caused on the flight I was on, but perhaps future flights.
It’s a crime
As we head into a new year, can we all take a moment to realize that the holiday season is a stressful time, and some may have shorter tempers than they normally would. Since this is an election year, take a moment to consider that everyone has a different opinion about who should be president, and you becoming the subject of a viral video for disagreeing or screaming at someone for wearing a shirt that disses your candidate does little in the long run other than get you into trouble when the plane lands.
Causing a disturbance on a plane is in United States airspace is a federal crime, and interfering with the duties of the flight crew can lead to fines and even jail time of up to 20 years. This is a fact that is not widely known.
Flying is a stressful thing. I run a travel website and travel all the time, and I still don’t like to fly. All too often, passengers plan a trip to the airport bar before the flight to quell the nerves. Sometimes, especially if the flight is delayed, one drink can lead to two or more. On another recent flight, a couple boarded the plane reeking of alcohol, and barely able to keep themselves upright to make it to their seat. The couple were thankfully very little trouble for the flight attendants, but they did require more attention than the rest of the passengers. The United flight attendants very deftly kept the couple out of trouble and the flight went off without a hitch. I’m not a prude or anti-alcohol, however, alcohol can lead to poor behavior and bad decisions. If you need to have that drink to calm the nerves, keep it to one so that you aren’t sloppy drunk, that sort of situation can only make things worse.
Be kind to the flight attendants – they aren’t there to be your servants; they are there to keep you safe. Flight attendants work long hours and often have very early schedules. When they have to deal with an argumentative or unruly passenger, it makes their day miserable. I’s not their fault that you have to sit in a middle seat, they didn’t have anything to do with the overhead bin space being taken up and they certainly have nothing to do with the baby crying in the seat behind you. Take a deep breath, put on your headphones, and relax through the flight.
It doesn’t have to be the holidays for people to be on edge when flying. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t argue with people over politics – as a matter of fact I make it a personal point to never talk about politics on a flight ever. Let’s all try and get along.
If you would like to learn more about the consequences for causing a disturbance on a flight here is a great article from hg.org