Why all the obnoxiousness?

Judging from abuse hurled daily at flight attendants, many travelers forget how good we have it:

Travelers [from Boston, MA] to Concord, NH could make the 68-mile trip on a stagecoach in 10 hours. Stagecoach trips from Albany, NY to Manchester, VT, a distance of 63 miles, also took 10 hours, and the fare was $3.25, which was the equivalent of almost 10 days wages for a female mill worker, or a week’s pay for a farm hand. The 55-mile trip from Portland to Augusta, ME took 12 hours by stagecoach.

Boston to San Francisco took at least three weeks.

We now do Boston-to-SF in five hours, half the time it once took to go from Boston to Concord, NH!

So if our five-hour flight becomes a six or seven hour flight, chill out, right? It’s not like delays never happen, so assume you’ll arrive a bit late and be pleasantly surprised if you’re on time.

But no. Many people freak out and hurl abuse at airline personnel for delays, many of which are out of their control. And when a plane lands, people jump into the aisle to deplane ten seconds faster than the people in the row opposite.

Even without delays, many passengers are selfish and rude. The now-infamous JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater — who lost his cool and exited the plane (and walked off his job) by emergency slide — has long been upset about passengers bringing way too many carry-ons, but posts he is believed to have made on Airliners.net suggest Slater isn’t one to blow his top easily:

[Slater] also criticized crew members who blow their top with rude passengers.

“To stand there and flex my muscles by getting into an altercation just makes me look stupid and creates anxiety for my passengers,” he wrote in response to a 2008 posting by someone who had a run-in with a flight attendant.

“She obviously lost the very composure she was hired to have. … Unprofessionalism is unacceptable, and you don’t speak to people that way. Period.”

Slater lost his cool after enduring years of obnoxious, rude passengers:

Colleagues rushed to Slater’s defense yesterday, saying a once-glamorous job has become customer-service drudgery.

“I’ve been slapped,” said one JetBlue flight attendant just off a flight from Spain.

“I’ve been told off a million times,” she said. “I’ve been called a whore, and it’s over really dumb, silly things.”

Airline carry-on regulations are very clear. If a flight attendant is bothered by your carry-ons, it’s your fault, not theirs. You should be grateful they don’t toss your excess baggage off the plane. And yelling at the flight attendant about the life-and-death meeting you’ve scheduled too close to your arrival time won’t get the plane there any faster.

Let’s just all please calm down, quit being so obnoxious, and be grateful we’re not stuck in stagecoaches.

Posted by James on Wednesday, August 11, 2010