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Air Rage: Readers Speak Out

The more we disagree, the more we seem to agree.

When it comes to the air rage issue, the more I hear from readers on both sides of the issue (and of the check-in counter), the more I think we're saying the same thing, want the same thing, and might even be willing to work toward the same thing.

I've always believed that there can be no progress without conflict. Before there can be a meeting of minds, we have to speak our minds. A little disagreement, even an argument here and there, helps us get things done. This may be all the more true in the "Us vs. Them" atmosphere that has sometimes enveloped the airline passenger rights issue.

Our readers have spoken. Happy and unhappy passengers have spoken; contrite and defiant airline employees have spoken; folks who agree and folks who disagree have spoken. My conclusion? There IS a middle ground where we can make this work, a no-fly zone as it were. Instead of drawing a line at the gate, I hope these letters let us all see how the other half lives.

Through it all, even readers who disagreed strongly were kind enough to compliment us on our features, noted that there were valid points made, and seem genuinely interested in opening dialogue on the question. Many, many passengers wrote letters recounting horror stories of abuse at the airport and in the air; in most cases, I've decided not to include the sordid details here, and to excerpt the pertinent points.

On the other hand, we heard from numerous airline employees, and give their comments top billing below, as well as most of our available space. Several airline employees were especially thoughtful, and I'm most grateful for their input; to be able to print their comments here adds considerable perspective to the debate.

Sure, at times folks heard only what they wanted to hear, and missed some points I made that answered their objections already. One airline employee rebutted one of my points with the following: "Deal with it; we do, every day." Well, airline employees get paid to deal with it. When we get paid to fly, we'll "deal with it" gladly. But as long as we're handing over the cash, even if the price is good, this argument doesn't fly. It's not terribly constructive to boot.

I do want to reiterate one thing: in no way do I condone "flipping out" to the point of violence. My point was that frustration and powerlessness combine to make people feel helpless and cornered, without sensible recourse, and that's a bad place to put anyone.

We started our series on this issue over a year ago with a call for more simple, human courtesy all around. And unfortunately, some of the letters exhibited the very same attitudes we're trying to diminish; still, we give some of those voices space here, as I believe most folks have some valid points to make, even when tinged with anger.

I've greatly appreciated your comments, and think that this kind of grassroots communication is part of what this column is all about. Here's hoping all of our efforts together can make a difference.

Without further ado or rebuttal from your faithful reporter, I give the platform to you, the readers.

From the Other Side of the Counter

I understand where you are coming from as a passenger. However as an employee for the flag carrier of Great Britain, I believe that a passenger is more than a seat number but; rather a friend for life or an enemy. I see people every day tell me that we do a great job. We take surveys in line to see what people want and need. Many amenities that are unexpected of airlines today as a whole.

I hope that your next article will be about those of us who care about you and not a buck.


An excellent article on air rage. You made very valid points, and fairly expressed the views of both sides. In addition to all the points you made, I also think that poor manners and poor behavior (both passengers and employees) is a reflection of our society as a whole. I am disgusted by the "me first" attitude of people I casually interact with on a daily basis, whether it be in traffic, in line, or in the grocery store. Basic civility and common courtesy have gone the way of legroom on the airplane. It's becoming nonexistent. And yes, I do manage to still like my job most days. :) thank you for the interesting read.

SkyBeech, An AA flight attendant

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