Watching a passenger unravel

There are many, many times where the flight attendants may appear to be behaving in a manner that just doesn’t make sense, especially with regards to safety and security. That being said, every now and then it seems to make a lot of sense in very specific situations. Today’s flight (my first on UA’s p.s. service, but that’s a different post) showed me just how quickly a seemingly normal passenger can come a bit unglued and what happens when the FAs deal with it. And I got to watch it up close and personal, as it happened with a guy in my row.

One of the advantages of bulkhead seats is no one in front of you to recline into your personal space. It makes using a laptop lots easier, which is the main reason I choose these seats, even if the leg room is a bit restricted due to the wall. The bulkheads come with a disadvantage as well – no storage space for your bags except in the overheads. Normally this isn’t a problem. Most people are aware of it, or when informed they comply reasonably. Today’s specimen, however, seemed to think that this rule wasn’t particularly applicable to him. So when the FAs came through and had the three other people in the row put their bags overhead, he assumed that it didn’t apply to him. More entertaining was during the push-back portion of the flight when he decided that the rule really shouldn’t apply to him, and stood up to retrieve it. Needless to say, the second time he was forced to stow it he was even less happy, and he expressed his displeasure to the FAs, and shared with his row-mates how much of a letdown the service was – something that I can’t particularly figure out, as the plane has a lot of FAs and they all seemed pretty nice to me, including remaining calm with this guy for 3+ hours.

Episode 2 was about 1:45 into the flight. Time for a bathroom break. Instead of walking back to use the facilities in the rear of the plane, the passenger decided to walk forward into the business cabin. This is definitely not an FAA-mandated rule or anything of the sort, but the airline made the announcement shortly after take-off and expected that it would be followed. So when the guy was asked to return to his ticketed cabin, you’d think he might respond positively. You’d be wrong. He eventually made it back to the E+ seats in the back of the plane, and didn’t actually appear to use the lavatory, so apparently that wasn’t part of the actual plan anyways.

Episode 3 was about 3:00 into the flight. At this point he’d already been talked to by three or four different FAs, so he was effectively on double secret probation. So his decision to stand up in the aisle at the bulkhead between business and E+ seems like a particularly poor choice. Even worse, however, was his response when the purser asked him to not stand there. Thanks to noise-cancelling headphones the conversation was pretty clear to me, and when things escalated it was mostly because the guy was very suspect of the request (though the purser did help to move things along, so to speak). “You need to either go to use the lavs at the rear of the plane or take your seat, but you can’t stand here,” was the request issued to the guy. His response was to inquire as to what problem the purser had, and why he was being singled out. Certainly, as the only one behaving strangely, the answer to the latter half of that question is pretty obvious. And so things escalated to shouting and threats to have the cops meet us on arrival in SFO.

Eventually the guy sat down, and the purser retired to the rear galley to write up a brief report, and I used the opportunity to go to the lav and talk to the FAs about the guy. They haven’t notified the pilot of the “problem” yet, so things are not likely to really get out of hand on landing, unless this guy is as stupid as he’s been behaving and he decides to push his luck, but I’m betting against that.

And as for UA, in addition to Channel 9, now there’s live-action entertainment available on select flights 🙂

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.