As I’ve written about time and time again, airline employees have been given so much latitude to remove passengers from flights in the name of “safety.” We’ve seen countless instances of passengers being removed from planes over non-events.
It seems many gate agents and flight attendants don’t understand that there’s a difference between them not liking someone, and someone posing a threat towards a flight. If someone doesn’t pose a threat towards a flight, there’s no reason they should be removed. Ironically when a crew member poses a threat to the flight they’re not removed, though.
This week we have what’s possibly the best example ever of a flight attendant on a power trip… and the airline even admits it!
Via The New York Times:
A prominent Texas lawyer was not allowed to board a Virgin America flight home from New York on Monday because of an encounter with a crew member at La Guardia Airport in Queens, he and the airline said.
The lawyer, Robert B. Abtahi, the vice chairman of the Dallas Plan Commission, the official body that makes planning and zoning recommendations to the City Council, said he was trying to board Virgin America Flight 885 to Dallas before its scheduled departure at 3:50 p.m., when he was told that he would not be allowed onto the plane.
Mr. Abtahi, who goes by “Bobby,” said the reason he was given was that the captain and crew did not feel comfortable with him on the flight. When he pressed for specifics, a gate agent told him that he had cut off a crew member in a revolving door while arriving at the airport, he said. He was forced to cancel the ticket and rebook on another airline.
What was the “incident” which made the captain feel uncomfortable with him on the flight?
Mr. Abtahi said that the incident, reported online on Monday evening by The Dallas Morning News, happened in one of the airport’s revolving doors when a woman got behind him in the same stall. In response to a reporter’s inquiry, he wrote on Twitter that they “both fumbled to get in,” and he “didn’t know she was crew.”
Virgin America even backs his claim, saying that it was a “misunderstanding,” and that the incident unfolded as the passenger described:
Virgin America said in a statement sent by email that airline officials had reviewed the incident and believed it was “the result of a misunderstanding.” David Arnold, a spokesman, said the airline was reaching out to apologize to Mr. Abtahi for his experience, and added that it was his understanding that it had unfolded as Mr. Abtahi described.
Much like the passenger, I totally agree that something has to be done to control airline employees on power trips:
Mr. Abtahi said he wanted the airline to tighten policies giving flight crew members broad discretion to decide whether to allow a passenger on board. “We have all these regulations around flying and safety, and that seems the most subjective one,” he said. “I have PreCheck and Global Entry and I’m not acting crazy; I haven’t been drinking. I’m just standing.”
I don’t think examples get more straightforward than this. An airline employee and passenger had a run-in which didn’t involve the airline and which posed no risk towards the flight whatsoever. Still, the passenger was removed from the flight in the name of safety. The airline even backs the passenger’s side of the story. I hope the flight attendant and pilot are disciplined.
Something needs to be done about this, as airline employee power trips seem to constantly be on the rise. At least they’re getting lots of media attention nowadays, which will hopefully cause the airlines to act.