There are several stories this month that made headlines regarding airlines approach to the crying infants and unruly passengers. Evidently a United airlines attendant said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that a baby was crying to a mother. This was on a 13 hour flight from Sydney, Australia to San Francisco in first class. On a Southwest flight a family was booted off the plane from Chicago to Atlanta as their 8 month old was throwing a tantrum prior to departure. A United flight from Heathrow to Washington Dulles turned back one hour into the flight as a passenger was just randomly screaming and cursing. My favorite one is the Chicago flight on ANA Airline where a drunk passenger urinated on a man two rows behind him and was restrained for the duration of the flight. We all have stories and have seen some wild crazy behavior. The question is how should you and the airline respond?
After some research I found that airlines have several clear policies regarding passenger comfort and issue management. The easy ones to find include approach to obese passengers, emotional support animals, intoxicated passengers, infant seating requirements, pets, luggage handling, and dozens of common sense items. I couldn’t find anything on airlines policy on crying babies. According to the attendant from United on that Sydney flight, there is a policy that states babies should not be allowed to cry for more than 5 minutes. How the heck do you enforce that? I think she made that up.
For those unruly passengers who are confrontational to fellow passengers and/or staff…there are some guidelines and policies, but they are primarily discretionary. Airline staff are empowered to confront passengers based on their interpretation of actions that may; put other passengers at risk, are violating other passenger’s privacy, are disrespectful to the staff, or may impact the overall safety of everyone. Consequences include restraining or evicting passengers. Either of which may also include a fine and/or arrest.
For your own piece of mind, don’t get involved with these type of passengers…you don’t want your travel interrupted. Invest in a good set of noise-cancelling headsets. Watch a movie or read a book. While you should always try to be courteous, don’t engage with a fellow passenger complaining about the service. It’s a slippery slope and may inadvertently have repercussions for you as well. I am not suggesting you have to tolerate rude behavior, just don’t verbally participate. Call your attendant over and make them aware of the issue.
What about those screaming infants? I used to get so upset. I remember sitting in first class next to a mother who had one child and her husband was two rows back with another child. Throughout the flight they just kept swapping screaming kids. Everyone in first class was given 5000 sky miles. These days I just turn my music on full blast and get caught up on work. Let’s face it, kids are kids. You’ll fade away into your own happy place with good music and good headsets and hopefully arrive at your destination on time.
Have a funny passenger story to share? Write your comments below.