Since the events of United 3411 numerous stories have appeared in the press about fresh incidents of airline “mistreatment” of passengers. Most of them strike me as pretty routine stuff, but now it is getting coverage because United 3411 has everyone reading stories about this stuff. Therefore I will not link to any of it. A good bit of the remainder is passenger hypersensitivity in the wake of the United 3411 incident and coverage. But regardless, I think some observations are in order.
For the record, I am a moderate air traveler. I am on airplanes far more frequently than most people, but far less frequently than a serious air traveler like Hewitt. I average about one trip by air a month and have for many years. Usually just an out and back, not a lot of hopping around although that does happen once or twice a year. In all that air travel I have never seen a confrontation turn physical in any fashion, but I have seen a lot of confrontation. In all the confrontations I have witnessed at least 30% of them involved the over consumption of alcohol on the part of the passenger or passengers involved. All of the confrontations I have witnessed – I repeat all of them – have involved passengers with expectations way out of line with what they were paying for and/or what regulation allowed. I guess because most people do not travel by air that often they just don’t realize that unless you are willing to pay for it, there is nothing luxurious, or even really comfortable, about air travel. All those super cheap fares you see ads for have turned air travel, at least in the back of the plane, into little more than fast bus service. And there is not much, really, the airlines can do about it.