Friday 23 March 2018

Behave yourself or prepare to bail out

Pan Am
Pan Am

Gemma O'Doherty

Oh for the halcyon days of flying as portrayed in the glossy new TV show 'Pan Am', when white-gloved air stewards met your every whim and treated your custom like gold dust.

What a contrast to real-life air travel. In the US, things have become so harsh for passengers, it seems you only have to look crooked at a check-in agent to get thrown off a flight these days. And heaven forbid you might board on a bad clothes day.

That's what happened to Deshon Marman, a footballer who took a flight in his favourite saggy trousers, only to be reprimanded by a US Airways steward and told to pull them up. He refused and was arrested.The charges were subsequently dropped.

In another case, Ricci Wheatley was removed from a Southwest plane after she had the temerity to ask for a glass of wine when the bar service began. She and her sister were on an emergency visit from San Francisco to Dallas to see their father, who had just had a heart attack.

After boarding, Wheatley had broken down and was crying. When she asked for the drink, the attendant reportedly replied, "I think you've had enough". Wheatley insisted she'd had nothing to drink, but was told to get off.

The airline described the incident as "a verbal altercation" with a flight attendant.

More recently, musician and TV actor Leisha Hailey was barred from the same carrier after kissing her girlfriend, Camila, in the next seat. A cabin crew member told the pair they were on a 'family airline' and asked them to stop.

After a foul-mouthed rant from the women, they were taken off the plane, but when the gay lobby heard about their treatment there was uproar and allegations of sexual discrimination that a heterosexual couple wouldn't be treated in that way.

A full refund was later given for the flight and desperate efforts by the airline to "reach out and extend goodwill".

Delta has also been doing its bit for customer relations, kicking off a woman who questioned the pilot's sobriety. She and three other passengers had a brief conversation with one of the pilots of their delayed flight.

When he walked away, one of them asked the others if they had smelt alcohol on his breath. She raised it with airline staff and was escorted off the plane.

In another case, Canada's Air Jazz found one man's "malodorous condition" too much to bear and had him thrown off.

In post-9/11 America, it seems airlines have become a law unto themselves. A read through the terms and conditions of most carriers show they pretty much have it nailed when it comes to their super-size definition of unruly behaviour.

The merest hint of rudeness at departures or an angry glare at a fellow passenger for knocking your seat back is enough to get you a one-way ticket back to the terminal.

The secret of survival? Belt up, keep cool and, as they say in the US, be Minnesota nice to everyone.

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