Losing it

Is everyone mad as hell like Howard Beale in Network?Many people have weighed in on Steven Slater, the veteran flight attendant on JetBlue who allegedly argued with a passenger, cursed out fellow travellers on the plane’s intercom, grabbed his luggage and some beer, and exited the plane via the emergency slide in a blaze of headlines. It was an updated version of the "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” speech from the prescient satire Network.

 
According to news reports, the woman who first traded words with Slater had stood up before the plane stopped, and refused his request to sit down. She apparently bopped Slater’s head causing a visible wound, as she pulled her bag from the overhead bin.
 
She refused to apologize and it seems Slater just lost it. Now, many people are hailing him as a hero. But it is not that simple. I think everyone missed the point.  I think the woman was wrong. But I am terrified that a man in charge of air safety was so close to snapping.  He was a “veteran” flight attendant  and should have had experience to handle any situation as a “professional”.

Kate Hanni adovcates for passengers' rights and civlized air travelAccording to Kate Hanni of the advocacy group www.flyersrights.org, “passengers trapped on hot, smelly aircraft with overflowing toilets ask us all time if they can pop the emergency exits to get out. We tell them no. What (Slater) did is not acceptable under any circumstance. And now he wants his job back”.
 
Kate went on to say that airlines need to help crews deal with stress and give them better training to deal with confrontational passengers”. Kate and her volunteer group are trying to make both passengers and airlines behave more responsibly so we can all travel more safety and pleasantly.  
 
I am tired of airlines nickel-and-diming passengers for blankets, seating preferences, and food, while also mistreating crewmembers. Some airlines are out of control when it comes to general passenger abuse.  Recently, it was reported that the airlines – who are always crying poor – have netted a fortune on baggage and other surcharges.
 
Since 9/11, most sane people are afraid to talk back to even the rudest airline crewmember for fear of being accused of causing an incident that will land them in front a judge. Kate Hanni told me that crews have tried to make passengers who have taped on-board incidents delete their video.
 
Passengers and crews have been abused by greedy airlines that don’t know when to stop squeezing. Nor are passengers blameless. We have become a society of cheap slobs.
 
Many people board airplanes looking as if they’re ready for bed, or worse. Hordes of modern parents no longer feel their children need to control their behaviour in public. If kicking, whining, or yelling bother you – too bad. Their attitude is, that’s just how kids are. Most of my friends would disagree. They disciplined their polite, well-behaved offspring.
 
Bad behavior goes way beyond manners. There is surliness in the air that makes being confined in small spaces such as planes downright nasty. Too many people today have no basic social skills. When you combine these delightful charmers with over-worked, stressed-out employees, the mix is volatile.
 
After the other JetBlue fiasco – the one that left passengers stranded on a runway for hours without food, water or a bathroom — a regulation was adopted requiring that passengers must be taken off a grounded aircraft after three hours. But recently, passengers were kept on a plane in super-hot weather, with no air conditioning or water for almost three hours. Finally, a flight attendant went against policy and handed out water to the dehydrated “prisoners”.
 
The airline may have observed the letter of the law by waiting three hours to deplane the passengers, but they knew darned well it was dangerous and unacceptably hot on that plane. A passenger’s YouTube video showed the sorry state of heat-exhausted children and babies. But anything more than a tepid verbal complaint may have landed a passenger in jail, and everyone knew it. Also, according to Kate Hanni of Flyersrights.org, the rule has a loophole: tarmac time does count until the plane pushes back from the gate. According to Kate Hanni, airlines don’t pay crew until they push away from the gate.
 
Rotten customer service is now the norm. To be fair, it is often the result of badly-trained and poorly-treated employees. When I can, I vote with my feet. I hope you do too.
 
I am polite and nice, and I won’t tolerate less from others, especially if I’m paying them. I think we all need to become tougher consumers. This type of attitude rewards companies that do a good job. I remember, recommend, and patronize my favourite airlines and hotels.
 
Darlings, I know it’s stressful and time-consuming to complain, but give it a shot. Move on if it doesn’t work. If you hate confrontation, the good news is a letter by post is the most effective way to complain. It is not that much trouble. Just think of it as email that you print and put a stamp on! Failing that, send email. Go to the corporate site and get the president’s email too, and copy him! Post a copy of your letter on www.Yelp.com and Yahoo! And don’t forget to leave a copy on their Facebook page. It takes less than minute. I like to warn others of bad business experiences on www.Yelp.com. My fellow Yelpers have saved me from many bad choices in a new city. I am quick to post my favourite finds too. Now that so many are held hostage by the fear of unemployment, it has never been more important to complain when you have a valid issue.
 
Refuse to be intimidated. Stand up in a polite but firm way for your rights. Tell the parent of a misbehaving child ‘I know it can be hard for small children to sit still’, but please ask your child to stop kicking, yelling, or whatever. Never correct a stranger’s child directly. If the parent snaps at you, call an attendant or manager. Do it promptly and help stop the madness.
 
Be your best self all the time, or go home and lie down until you can be. I know it can be tiring to travel, but you will feel better and act better if you dress up a bit and smile. A pair of well-fitting jeans, a nice top, a jacket and a cozy scarf should not torture a grown-up woman. As for smiling, numerous studies prove that if you smile, it elevates your mood, really! And darlings, I don’t mean you should sport a constant grin, just refrain from the habitual surliness that is so common today. It is so unpleasant. The same goes for doing errands around town; help elevate local standards. 
 
Thoreau wrote: “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” Arthur Miller wrote the Tony-Award winning play Death of a Salesman in 1949. The idea that life is frustrating is not new.
 
A society that constantly lowers the bar on civility, manners, and corporate reasonability creates an environment that will make some people crack. Get ready to see more people “lose it” if things don’t change.
 
Flyers rights is an organization for consumers. They advocating for better regulation. They will also try to help you if you are stuck on plane or otherwise mistreated  http://www.flyersrights.org/contact.php
 
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