Late last night a horrifying story of vulgarity and harassment on a plane came out. I shared it on Twitter and Facebook, fueled with alternating waves of anger and disappointment and rage and disbelief. Read the full statement. It is disgusting. But for the purposes of this rant allow me to summarize:
A passenger was drunk and spewing sexually aggressive comments at another traveler from the moment they boarded the plane. When the flight crew was asked to intervene they declined, stating that the guy was a known entity and just doesn’t have a filter but is probably harmless.
The good news in the short term is that Alaska Airlines appears to be taking the incident seriously.
UPDATE: I just got off the phone with two executives from @AlaskaAir who informed me that they are conducting an investigation and have temporarily suspended this passenger’s travel privileges. Thank you for taking this seriously.
— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) November 30, 2017
The bad news is that it happened at all, of course, but also the way the crew handled the situation. Chatting with various friends over the past 18 hours has caused a number of scenarios to play through my mind. What if I were the guy in the row ahead of this incident? Or behind? Or across the aisle? Or just happened to hear it as I passed by? And that brings me to the title of the post.
Assuming we’re still on the ground, you’ll almost certainly see me standing in the aisle.
The plane isn’t going anywhere with a passengers not buckled in. And if the cabin crew isn’t willing to deal with the situation then a conversation with the pilot, a gate agent or the police can all be a reasonable next step. If getting to that point with a calm, polite conversation in the galley doesn’t work then you’ll see me standing, waiting for the proper folks to show up.
It doesn’t require hovering over the offending party or escalating the situation. Often direct confrontation is a bad play. Similarly, I’m not keen on taking photos and videos to prove the problem. That’s an escalation move, not one that defuses an already stressful situation.
But it is WAY easier to deal with a belligerent or misbehaving passenger on the ground than it is at 500 miles/hour and 30,000 feet. And, quite frankly, I’m not particularly keen on being party to that situation if the crew decides Skeevy McAsshat is cleared to fly. If I’m already standing then collecting my bags and leaving is easier. I’ve fortunately never had to press the issue that far, but I’ve had at least one flight where it was definitely a “him or me” situation with an obviously impaired passenger. I was able to communicate the situation to the crew and get it resolved without much trouble, but I was ready to make the “him or me” decision that afternoon. And that was without the overt sexual harassment; the guy was just drunk and confused. I’m pretty sure the more egregious behavior would not soften my stance.
There’s no need to pick a fight. No need to get confrontational.
Just a simple act of standing up for what’s right. Literally. In the aisle.
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