Flying with common sense

People must shake their heads and wonder about common sense and courtesy when viewing on social media the overwhelming accounts of unruly passengers, security staff and airline crews.

More people are flying than ever before in aircraft that seemingly have no empty seats. Air travel is no longer a fun adventure, but a necessary evil to be endured.

We have all seen the video of Dr. David Dao being manhandled off the United Airlines flight. Would it surprise you to know that every time you purchase an airline ticket, you agree to a contract of carriage? 

One of the points within that contract is that an airline is well within its rights to remove a passenger from a plane. It’s not the sort of policy that’s usually followed once the passenger has been seated, but they have the right to do it.

Bad behaviour is not solely practised by airline staff. The International Air Transport Association has announced a 16 per cent rise in unruly passengers since last year. Cases range from profuse profanity, anti-social behaviour to assault on weary flight crews.

Why is this happening? Some theorists believe that since 9-11 the travelling public has become infantilized. That is the expectation from airline personnel and security staff that passengers will remain submissive and compliant throughout every step of the air-travel experience. 

Then again, the travelling public themselves are not held accountable or prosecuted for their outrageous outbursts either and therefore others are emboldened to also “act out” without fear of retribution.

The sad fact is that in today’s super competitive airline industry, things have become ridiculously rule based.  When I worked for Air Canada back in the 1990s I was given a certain amount of leeway in accommodating passengers who’s travel plans had gone awry. 

Change fees could be waived, alternate flight arrangements with other airlines could be sourced, etc. 

Nowadays, most airline staff are simply not allowed to do the right thing.  They must follow mandatory rules, which severely limit their ability to come up with immediate customer service resolutions or lose their jobs.

Thankfully, the United Airlines situation has opened a needed discourse among airlines and passenger activist groups. United has implemented 10 new mandates to better improve and protect their customers' expectations when flying. 

An important one I believe is empowering their employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.  Another is increasing customer compensation for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000. 

Let’s face it, getting bumped from a flight is no fun, but I think you’d get over it for that kind of money.

There’s a bad apple in every situation. For every disgruntled rude flight crew or passenger, there are 10 more cheerful, helpful people behind them. 

Common sense needs to prevail in today’s skies so that we can all remain safe and enjoy the transport. 


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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