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cartoon man in pillory I’m fed up. Sick of it. And I haven’t even experienced the worst of it. But I’ve had enough of self-important air travelers believing they’re above the rules and then becoming incensed and unruly when a flight attendant, or worse yet, another passenger, points out they are in the wrong.

In the latest incident of “unruly” airplane behavior, an American Airlines flight actually had to make an unscheduled stop to boot a guy off the plane. While the airline did not give specific details about the man’s behavior, Fox News reports he refused to listen to the crew’s instructions and had to be handed over to authorities in Canada.

Flying is frustrating enough without our fellow passengers making things worse for us. And yet, such incidents are becoming more commonplace. While Alec Baldwin famously refused to turn off a game of Words with Friends on his cell phone, he’s far from alone in such disruptive behavior. More recently, the niece of fashion designer Ralph Lauren was kicked off a plane after she had too much to drink and began threatening and verbally abusing the crew.

The Real Reason Fliers Hate the Airlines

According to CBS News, the reports of passenger misconduct skyrocketed from 500 in 2007 to more than 6,000 in 2011 on international flights. And while I don’t hold the airlines completely blameless for the frustrations that often drive these angry passengers to lash out, I do believe it’s time to do something about such behavior.

In March 2014, CBS reports, the International Air Transport Association will propose changes to global laws against unruly passengers to bring them more in line with the stricter laws that apply to domestic flights. (In the U.S., passengers are subject to fines and even jail time for acting out in the air.)

In the meantime, I believe it’s time to bring back the pillory as a form of punishment. I propose every plane be outfitted with an onboard pillory. Passengers who carry on too much luggage, refuse to turn off their cell phones, yell at flight attendants or in any other way disrupt the travel of the majority of people on the plane should be placed in the pillory and forced to stand in front of everyone until it’s time for the plane to land.

But, because I’m a nice person and don’t want anyone to suffer unnecessarily, unruly passengers should have the option of getting out of the pillory by instead personally apologizing to everyone else on the plane for their bad behavior.

The Etiquette of Seat Backs and Elbow Room

Have you been on a plane disrupted by an angry passenger? How would you like to see unruly passengers punished?

– written by Dori Saltzman

10 Responses to “Off with Their Heads”

  1. Acruiseguy says:

    And…on the other end of the spectrum I experienced a double “random act of kindness” on my recent LAX to NYC flight. My seatmate offered to to purchase my fruit plate….for no other reason that he was paying it forward from a nicety that happened to him earlier! Upon hearing this fact, the flight attendant bought BOTH our snacks!

  2. Acruiseguy says:

    Oh, and one other thing. The airlines created this monster. I think that carryon luggage should be the “pay for” option..instead of the other way around. It takes forever to get on board, and everyone seems to want their luggage within grabbing distance. MAKE THEM PAY for the privilege of hauling a huge piece of luggage over my head!

    • Deborah says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m so tired of people carrying oversized luggage on board….after I pay to check mine. Then, if the luggage is too large to board, they get to put it aside for loading in the hold and they pay nothing????

  3. Fernando says:

    I frequently use a line of Ryanair from Italy to Spain, I travel for business. The problem is that this line is used for the youth Italian people to go to the spanish fiesta… Imagine a flight with 30 people drunk and laughing every time… Never more with ryanair

  4. Al Lockwood says:

    Don’t aircraft have pressurized and climate-controlled space for pets? How’s about moving Obnoxious George down there with Rover?

  5. An Dras says:

    Dear Dori Salzman — I am a frequent world traveler since age 5. Indeed people are increasingly badly behaved. HOWEVER, before you start getting Medieval on us…in my personal experience the Airlines personel,and the so-called security Neanderthal-Vandals and Visigoths, and the cops, etc., etc. are far more likely to be the cause of problems, or of enlarging small problems and of regular and constant MAJOR ABUSES of their micro-weenie power, as is to be expected of most undereducated low IQ low class jobs where people you wouldn’t trust to pump your gas are carrying guns and feeling your genitals. It’s a situation created from on high, and I think not by mistake. What I’m saying is that the context….. created not by passengers is very much at fault. The world needs to raise in Consciousness and seek new standards of Justice and Interactive Behaviour.

  6. Wallace Sweet says:

    Today it seems that airlines have lost respect for their customers, the seating in coach of some airlines is not reasonable or safe. Space is so tight that passengers in middle and window seats (when seat in front is reclined) find it necessary to walk on seats to get to toilet. On my flight with an airbus A319 going from LAX to ORD last Tuesday this method was used by multi-passengers multi-times. There seem to be a direct relationship between airline abuse and passenger behavior or misbehavior. Maybe their needs to be set standards for passenger airspace on aircraft? Lets have some reasonable protection for passengers.
    The way the airline industry is advancing I expect the next generation aircraft to have barstools with seatbelts in coach, and one pilot on the ground in India controlling six aircraft–cheaper than having real pilots in aircraft.

  7. Marilyn Ads says:

    When will the airlines rein in all the extra baggage (car seats, massive strollers) that parents with children bring directly to the plane and never charge them anything for these items no matter how large or heavy they are. Plus they take forever to board with all of this equipment. I travel for business and must pay for show display items and forced to check in at the counter, which means the precious display pieces just might not make it. But that stroller and car seat sure will.

  8. Marco Polo says:

    As a frequent air traveller, I have witnessed several episodes of passenger misconduct, some (but IMHO too few) of them ended with the captain and crew taking resolute action to nip them in the bud. One, which happened in Paris’ CDG airport, involved a lady who continued yakking into her cell phone after the plane doors were closed, and stubbornly refused to end the conversation after being repeatedly (and politely) invited to do so by the crew. When she snapped back at the flight attendant calling her “b*tch!” after the last warning, a few minutes later the plane doors opened again and two uniformed French police officers literally lifted her off her seat and dragged her off the plane, among the cheers and applause of the rest of the passengers.

    The other was on a Delta airlines flight from Rome to Atlanta in which a rowdy couple of passengers (father and teenage son) kept talking loudly to each other and refused to close the window shade next to them during the flight, inconveniencing me and quite a few other passengers who had the misfortune to be seated near them. Sadly, in this occasion the attitude of the crew was much less resolute, and after they repeatedly refused to heed invitations to tone down their voices and shut the shade, the crew just shrugged their shoulders and said that they couldn’t do anything about it.

    There are indeed some passengers in any flight who should be reined in, and even threatened with blacklisting if they keep stepping on other people’s toes while on board, and I would welcome such toughening of the current rules.

  9. MLAB says:

    Please do not forget that much of the carry on luggage contains items that we are advised to carry on: medicine, cameras, extra change of clothing. The airline industry has created this nightmare by both charging for luggage and mishandling enough that a fear of it not arriving is a reality. The airlines need to be held accountable for correcting this problem. I would hope they would think less about their bottom line (how much are they paying their top execs?) and more about the people who use their airlines, but I fear that it will take legislation to correct their attitudes.

    I have found that kindness usually trumps rudeness. Focusing on the few who believe they are entitled makes us forget the hundreds of small acts of kindness that take place everyday on airplanes and in airports. While it is not always the case, it is most likely that you get what you give. Be rude and you get rude. Be kind, friendly and smile, and you almost always get kindness, friendliness and smiles back.

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