The above is a tweet from the very well regarded travel journalist, Joe Brancatelli. It really is amazing how powerful a statement you can make in 140 charters on twitter. He makes a very valid point.
It seems since there were no police (or airport security people) coming on-board and beating up the Delta passenger last week that the paying customer who had to pee during a 30 minute taxi, and then was kicked off the flight, it is not getting the same press coverage as all the other events recently. Who knows, maybe folks are just used to the airlines treating us this badly nowadays?
I wanted to dive in and share my thoughts on this matter as it really is bothering me more and more. First some obvious points.
“Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers,” the statement read. “It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.”
Now let me say I agree with this statement from Delta in principle. When you are taxiing to and from the runway it is no time to be walking around a jet. Very bad things can happen to you, those around you etc. The place to be safe is strapped into your seat. We must follow the direction of all the flight crews for everyone’s safety!
But let’s think about this for a moment. I want you to raise your hand if you have ever either A) gotten up during taxi to go to the lavatory or B) been on a flight where someone else got up to go to the lavatory (while I can not see you I think all hands have now gone up).
And this is my point. While I was not on the flight I feel for the passenger in question. Adding up the time from the time he took his seat and then the safely briefing then on top of that a 30 minute taxi and you may have to really go to the lavatory if you did not have a chance to go before flight. I landed in LAX not too long ago and we were parked on the taxiway for OVER 1 HOUR! Do you think folks got up to pee? You bet they did, over and over and over!
So who is “most” wrong here? Clearly, to me, it is Delta Air Lines. There was just no reason for this to go the way it did. The worst thing that should have happened was the jet had to get back in line to take off if they were “that” close to takeoff.
Now please understand I am in no way suggesting folks should get up whenever they want to and I have already stated, like Delta, safety first. Beyond that what one person does can impact possibly hundreds of others on the aircraft (including connections etc.) But what happens next in this case is ridiculous.
Delta did not have to return to the gate. They did not have to kick the passenger off and refund his ticket and refuse to fly him on that flight or another one. This was NOT a combative (from what I can see) paying passenger. He just had to go or there would have been an accident in the seat. I ask you, would you like that to have happened and then YOU fly in that seat next trip? Not me! Plus Delta, IMO, just compounded the problem and delay that could have been a short one into a much longer one.
Beyond that this is just one more step toward the fact that the government will start imposing more and more rules on the airlines or some kind of passenger bill of rights since the airlines clearly are being “bullies” to their paying customers. There can be many reasons to turn a jet around, divert, or the like but some rational judgment must be used by flight crews and most times I think that is what does happen – just not this time.
What do you think. Who was most at fault over this situation? Will this, and all the other endless events this month, end up in more government regulation over the airlines? You tell me! – René