The airwaves and the internet are full of stories of the fed-up JetBlue flight attendant, who may or may not not be a hero to passengers and anyone in the customer service business who don’t want to take it any more.
Actually, flight attendants normally can deal with obnoxious passengers without quite as much drama.
Here’s a story from Consumer Traveler reader Stephanie Magid, about a Southwest flight attendant who took less drastic measures.
As she said, Southwest is a straightforward airline: “You want a better seat, you pay your $10 dollars, and you’re moved up in the line. I like this because I have to have an aisle seat. No explanations needed. That’s it.”
Here’s the story that has made Stephanie a loyal Southwest flyer for life.
“I was having a nice chat with the elderly lady in the window seat in my row. Next thing I know, this large woman pointed at the middle seat and asked to sit there. As she was sitting, she commented that she would have to lose weight before the next flight. Well, as soon as she sat down I knew that this wasn’t going to be a match.
I am very allergic to perfumes and just about anything that is scented. She was wearing a fragrance that I knew would make me sick in 10 minutes, let alone the 4 hour flight ahead of us.
Very politely, and I do mean “politely‘, I told her of my sensitivities and asked that she please choose another seat on the plane, as her fragrance would make me ill.
Now mind you, I had seen the woman already change seats once on this flight already, and it hadn’t even left the gate. (And there were a number of other middle seats left on the plane.)
With that, she informed me that she wasn’t moving and that I should move instead. In fact, she thought that I should switch my aisle seat for her husband‘s middle seat. Fat chance! I refused to move. This really got her going.
She started ranting that I was a ***** for not moving and that she didn‘t care if I got sick. It was all my fault and that she didn’t stink–which was a word I may have thought of but never used.
Mind you, everyone within five rows on the plane heard her tirades. I just sat and kept my mouth closed, once the flight attendant took note of what was transpiring.
The lady in the window seat, who must have been close to 90, then got involved and told the woman to move. and stop causing trouble. Bless her heart. But middle seat lady wouldn’t listen to anyone, she just kept on ranting and refusing to move.
Next thing a woman in the row ahead of us, got out of her window seat, crawled across both people in her row and exited the plane. I figured she was probably sick from all of the haranguing and just had to get off of the plane. I was sure getting there myself, thinking about sitting next to this crazy person for 4 hours.
I heard the word supervisor mentioned by the flight attendant. Next thing I knew there was a serious looking woman in a Southwest uniform approaching my row. She looked directly at the woman making all the commotion and calmly asked her to step outside to speak with her.
The middle seat woman asked if I was going with them. The supervisor said that she only needed to talk to her. As the woman exited the plane with the supervisor, her husband got up to follow them out. When he returned to the plane, he grabbed their carry-on luggage out of the overhead, looked directly at me with a death wish and said ,”It’s all your fault, *****.”
Well, I knew they weren’t coming back. Hallelujah, I was saved. All of the passengers around me breathed a sigh of relief. No one had ever experienced anything like that before.
It turns out the lady in the row ahead who had left the plane, was a Southwest employee who heard the entire thing, knew the supervisor, and went out to tell her what had happened.
From there Southwest did its job. Which was to remove a passenger who was disruptive, argumentative, loud and just plain rude. In addition, she called me a bad name — which I heard is the tipping point. I am just glad that I sat there and didn’t escalate the situation.
I learned a valuable lesson today. Being rude and disruptive gets you kicked off a flight. Taking the high road gets you a nice calm flight home, a free drink coupon, (courtesy of my Southwest savior), not to mention the support of fellow passengers, who would never want to be in your shoes.”
Stephanie’s story had a happy ending, well, except for the two people who presumably either were asked to leave the plane or change to a different flight. It certainly sounds like this was a pretty unambiguous case of a passenger being completely out of line.
It gets more complicated when two passengers get into an argument and it’s hard to tell who is at fault, or if the jerk is an elite status flier. (And yes, flight attendants do get a manifest so that they know who gives their airline a LOT of business.)
But in this case, some Southwest employees clearly won a lot of fans on this flight. And they didn’t even have to open the emergency exit.