It seems that airline passengers are no longer expected to take responsibility for their own behavior. Check your bags at the counter and leave common sense and decency behind, too. Yes, I’m ranting about seat recline fights again, but it seemed reasonable to me given that the Boston Globe weighed in this weekend declaring:
Airlines are responsible for the problem and the solution. They need to take action because the problem is only going to get worse. Eliminate the recline feature or, at the very least, limit the amount of recline to half or less than what is allowed now.
That’s right, folks. The solution is not for people to behave like mature adults, to take responsibility for their own actions. It is for the airlines to change their operations such that it is no longer an issue. Punish everyone because a few idiots don’t know how to behave.
The Globe piece continues:
To allow a situation that so easily causes conflict to continue is jeopardizing the safety of passengers and crew alike. If airlines fail to take action, it is going to lead to more altercations.
I do agree to an extent here. The airlines can take action to help address this sudden rash of idiocy quite quickly: Start blacklisting passengers. It won’t take too many people suddenly discovering that they are no longer permitted to fly because of their short tempers – and a healthy bit of publicity of that fact was well – before everyone calms down a bit.
Or there’s a second option, proposed recently by Stephen Colbert: Start broadcasting the fights on the screens up front so at least there is some solid entertainment value delivered from the incidents.
“Airlines have to do more to turn coach conflicts into entertainment for us wealthy fliers. Why are we not getting a live feed of these aisle flights for our personal plasma screens?” — Stephen Colbert
Seriously, though, the idea that no one is held responsible for their behavior these days drives me bonkers. It is not like the airlines give absolutely zero choice to the passengers on this front. They can buy extra space (and still be a jackass there) or even select among several airlines with different amounts of space available on board in many cases. Suggesting that everyone adopt Spirit’s cabin layout is cute, I suppose. After all, the seats don’t recline. But they also have only 28 inches of pitch. That’s 2-4 inches less than the already bemoaned offerings of the other airlines today.
Pundits score points with the public by pandering to them, telling them that the big, evil airlines have ruined their travel experience. Sadly, however, that’s only a small slice of reality. And the more we, as a society, allow each other to walk away from simple decency and hide by blaming others the more we’re contributing to the problem rather than solving it.
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