Up in the air: Who is torturing whom?

By | February 11th, 2013

skySandra Mennitto watched a flight attendant torture a passenger for almost two hours on a recent trip from Chicago and Harrisburg, Pa.

Well, not torture in the Zero Dark Thirty sense of the word. But almost as painful, she says.

“A gentleman behind me had a full leg cast,” she remembers. For comfort, he had stretched the affected leg into the aisle. And that’s when the attendant stopped him.

“She talked down to him,” says Mennitto. “She said, ‘Just get it out of the aisle.’ In severe pain, he forced his leg around and held it [below the seat].”

But after reviewing this incident and another like it, I wonder: Who’s torturing whom?

Are flight attendants behaving like petty tyrants on the plane, sometimes at the cost of our comfort, or are air travelers driving airline employees to it?

Mennitto’s “stewardess” — at least, that’s how she described the flight attendant — was definitely having a bad day. She made an in-flight announcement that no one could understand because of a faulty PA system, and when passengers complained that they had no idea what she was saying, she shrugged them off.

“It’s bad enough that airlines treat passengers like cattle, without any comforts or respect, but now they seem to treat the passengers like prisoners with no rights or recourse,” Mennitto adds. “I spoke to other passengers on the flight and they all agreed that they were afraid to say anything in fear of getting kicked off the flight.”

Call me “doctor”

Mennitto’s story reminded me of another recent confrontation between a flight attendant and a passenger, which was mediated by my colleague John Yates at the Chicago Tribune.

Related story:   "Unbundling" is a brazen lie and it's time for the travel industry to come clean

It involved Barbara Brotine, an internist from Evanston, Ill., who argued with a JetBlue flight attendant about the size of her carry-on bag before a recent departure. After the attendant questioned Brotine’s ability to fit the bag under her seat, and the passenger showed her it could be done, Brotine said, “It would be nice if you apologized to me.”

That didn’t sit well with the crewmember. A few moments later, the attendant stopped by her seat again.

“She says, ‘Miss?’ and I look up. And she said, ‘Miss, I just wanted you to know that my name is Tina so you can tell my supervisors about me,'” Brotine said.

That upset Brotine even more.

“I said, ‘My (title) is doctor, so you can address me as that, and I want an apology.”

But instead of apologizing, a man who said he was with “security” materialized next to her seat and escorted her off the plane because she had been deemed a security threat.

Eventually, after Yates decided to cover the story, JetBlue refunded Brotine’s entire airfare.

Sympathy for flight attendants?

You’d think that most readers would criticize the flight attendant for having a passenger removed. But you’d be wrong. Most of the readers sided with JetBlue and its crewmember.

Cathy Kim says she was offended by Brotine’s “sense of entitlement.” She “played the doctor card,” she adds. “She used it to try and make the flight attendant feel inferior — and that says something right there about her character.”

That got me thinking about the whole flight attendants versus passengers debate, which has been raging since long before I started covering this business.

Related story:   What to do when your airline betrays you

Who’s wrong? Is it the unappreciated flight attendants who don’t get paid until the flight pushes back, and who are sometimes still called “stewardesses” by passengers? Or is it the stressed-out, sensory-deprived air travelers sitting in too-small seats, who are told they are breaking federal law if they don’t follow the instructions of their flight crew?

Of course, the attendant on Mennitto’s regional flight could have handled the situation better. She could have gently explained to the man in the cast that Federal Aviation Administration regulations required her to keep the aisles clear, and she might have tried to reseat him for his comfort.

Was Brotine a threat to flight security? Of course not. Should she have been kicked off her flight. Apparently, that’s debatable.

On the flip side, the guy in the cast could have called his airline’s special services desk and made arrangements to fly with his disability. Airlines do care about your comfort – at least that’s what they tell me. Likewise, Brotine could have brushed off the attendant’s comments about her carry-on luggage.

Point is, for every horror story a passenger has to tell, there’s probably an equally compelling horror story from a flight attendant.

My job title – consumer advocate – says I need to side with the customer. But sometimes, flight attendants have my sympathy.

Sometimes, they deserve yours, too.

Who is suffering more on the plane?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

  • johnb78

    Haven’t voted, because the answer is “both are suffering at the hands of terrible management policies and cost-cutting”.

    Brotine’s original complaint was completely reasonable, but to me Tina’s comment put an end to the matter, even if not very graciously – and getting pissy about whether someone uses a particular academic title to refer to you is the mark of a deeply petty individual. Tina’s overreaction to her overreaction was on about the same level of gratuitousness.

  • Kevin Holbrook

    The Chicago Tribune article would probably be interesting to read. Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall. Including links like this waste everyone’s time.

  • technomage1

    Speak up and you do risk getting kicked off the flight, as Brotine’s case illustrates. Since when did asking for an apology become a security risk? As for her title – she earned it and has every right to ask to be refered to in that way. Act like an ass to me and I’m liable to ask you to refer to me properly as “Sergeant”.

    I once boarded an aircraft with a computer backpack. It was anything but a full flight, with plenty of extra space and no boarding line. There was very little in the bag, just my laptop and a spare shirt/underwear set, but all the items had shifted down to the bottom of the bag, making it appear full. When I stepped on board they demanded I check the bag. I explained it was nearly empty and it would easily fit and proceeded to board. Once I got to my seat and had to shake the bag – once – to get it to fit in the narrow overhead bin. Took literally 5 seconds. I look over and the FA was charging her way down the aisle at me. I just gave her a smile and a “see” spread of the hands and took my seat. I guess in retrospect it could have gotten me kicked off the flight, but I refuse to let my laptop, a high performance model, be broken and or stolen by not speaking up.

    I get the FAs have a security duty and that their job is sometimes tough. Mine is too. But it is their job and we are their paying customers. I don’t demand service in bone china teacups, but I do demand respect as a paying customer. If I don’t get it, I take my business elsewhere, and the rude staff can brave the unemployment line.

  • Uh-oh. I added the code to the link to make sure everyone could see it. Let me see if I can fix that.

  • john4868

    Here’s my two cents… We’ve all become “less nice” when it comes to air travel. Unfortunately it’s always the 2% that make stories like this that make the news. For a number of reasons, some FAs have seemed to forget that they are the most frequent touch point between the customer and their airline. When you combine that where there doesn’t seem to be any downside to them abusing their authority to remove someone from the plane, you run into the old adage that absolute authority corrupts absolutely. When is a FA going to lose their job for abusing their authority? If a cop can, why not a FA?

    I have personally witnessed a FA delay a flight and cause people to miss connections because the FA refused (“That’s not my job”) to take a piece of paper, write “Out of Service” on it and place it on a malfunctioning seat. Instead, the captain had to leave the cockpit, make the sign, place it on the seat and then return to the cockpit to restart their check list from the beginning.

    Personally, the FA drops a condescending attitude like that with me and they are going to get the same in return. I’m not sure what the tone was but the “miss” came off to me as snotty.

  • sweepergrl

    I have had to fly with a walking boot on for a broken foot, and I also had to have my leg stuck in the aisle because my boot COULDN’T fit under the seat in front of me because it was one of those small regional jets that was only 3 seats wide. I was in the one seat section and the curve of the plane wall made it impossible to fit both my feet under the seat. The flight attendant never said a word as long as she could get the drink cart down the aisle. The connecting flight was much larger and I could fit my boot under the seat with some difficulty (and certainly misery), but again the only time I had it crammed under my seat was when they came by with the cart or when another passenger came through. I had tried to upgrade both by calling the airline and when I checked in and I was unable to. Originally it was because the flight was “full”, then it was because those upgrades were for “elite flyers only”, even though I offered to pay. It was a miserable flight (which I had to take, btw) but I survived and so did the plane, even though I had my walking boot in the aisle most of the flight. I guess I lucked out that I had really decent people on board with me.

  • backprop

    I’ll be honest; I don’t want to trip over someone who’s jammed their leg into the aisle, or worse, hurt THEM (and then suffer the associated liability). What if I wanted to put my bag in the aisle? I would just move it if anyone asked. Isn’t that a dumb question? Then it’s no different than having an appendage out there.

  • BillCCC

    Everybody is suffering equally. I am sure that flight attendants would like to give everyone personal attention but cannot because they overworked to begin with. Passengers would like to have ample space to stretch out but have voted with their wallets that the current state is acceptable.

    In the first case mentioned perhaps the FA had asked the passenger to move his leg prior to appearing to ‘talk down to him’. The FA must keep the aisle clear for reasons of safety and service. The airline would not like a lawsuit because someone tripped over a cast. Not to be cruel but the passenger should have made the appropriate accommodation for his condition.

    In the second case I think it was good of the FA to give her name. Usually they would stay anonymous and the airline could brush off the complaint. The doctor could have easily brushed this off and enjoyed her flight. I suspect that there was more to the story than what has been reported. The doctor and her husband appear to be the type of travelers that FAs and other passengers would rather avoid.

  • Alan Gore

    In Menitto’s case the FA was clearly out of line. The passenger had a medical problem that required him to keep his keg extended. How much trouble would it be fo the FA to squeeze her cart over to one side while running down the aisle throwing bags of nuts at the passengers?

    But in the case of the DYKWIA doc, I definitely side with the FA. If Ms Overentitled Specialist wanted to pull rank, she should at least have been a celebrity.

  • FrequentFlyer

    Please stop writing and find another job, I find your articles irritating – especially the stuff you write about airlines and frequent flyer programs.

  • m11_9


  • john4868

    Why waste your time reading then?

  • cjr001

    And what do you do for a living, besides feel an apparent sense of entitlement as a frequent flier?

  • Jborosara

    I disagree that Brotine tried to make anyone feel inferior. I am also a female physician and I tolerate being addressed incorrectly most days. When I’m stressed, such as when flying, it’s hard to tolerate. And anyone who doesn’t think that we earned those titles by giving up our twenties and a big chunk of our thirties is just simply mistaken. Doctors don’t go into medicine for the prestige or the perks or the money….lots easier ways to those. We do medicine because we like people….in grneral

  • J. Random Driveby

    Still paywalled, Chris.

  • BillCCC

    The link worked fine for me about 40 minutes ago.

  • mszabo

    Google solves eerything. Just google “chicago tribune brotine” and this is the first link with no paywall


  • Pat

    boo-hoo. And I’m a female exec…

  • The link had worked for me, too. Could it be affected by cookies?

  • mszabo

    After reading the full Chicago Article. I can certainly see why the public sided with the airlines. She comes off more flattering here than there. It sounds like there really wasn’t much if any confrontation about the bag. The FA asked if it could fit, was assured by the passenger that it could, and then the FA stated “Oh, it’s smaller than I thought it was” after seeing that it did fit. I don’t see what there is to apologize for from those details. I would even almost consider that “it’s smaller than I thought it was” somewhat of an informal apology. I’d say you can’t bump the passenger for being a “security risk”, but I’d wonder at what point CAN you bump a passenger for being an ass?

  • technomage1

    I agree. If you earn the title you have a right to ask to be called by it.

  • mszabo

    Seems like here though the Passenger got snippy for the mistake, but the FA had no way of knowing that she was a doctor in the first place. Now perhaps if the bag in question was the proverbial doctor’s black bag with the Caduceus logo, that might have been a little different. But even then I’d err on the side of Miss/Ma’am instead of Doctor until I have been formally introduced.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    In reading this, I had to side with the passenger who requested she be referred to as “Doctor”. That’s a title that’s hard-earned and to request being called “Doctor” isn’t “playing the doctor card”, it’s asking to be referred to by your title. My FIL holds a PhD and when I first met him, I referred to him as Mr. Dickinson, to which he requested I use the title Doctor, then quickly followed up with, “But, please, call me by my first name.”

    I believe, to this particular passenger, asking to be referred to as “Dr. Smith” was tantamount to my saying to a CSR once, “I don’t recall giving you permission to be so familiar with me and would prefer you refer to me as Mrs. Dickinson.” It might sound snooty but it sets a tone when it’s a business conversation. I prefer to NOT be so familiar with the people from whom I’m trying to conduct business.

    However, more on topic to this posting would be, I feel passengers are, more and more, subject to the whims of flight attendants around the world. I had a particularly bad experience on a Delta flight, not once but twice, that required the intervention of Delta corporate after I got back from those trips.

    For FAs to use their trump card of removing passengers so immediately tells me corporate is focusing less on customer service than they should. In the airline industry, it literally IS all about the customer and that should be reflected in how they care for their passengers.

    I know people can be unreasonable, but, really… Would it hurt anyone in the airlines to be just a little nicer? It’s like Mother Theresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.”

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I’d be interested in reading the Chicago article. @elliottc:disqus is it permissible to post the link here? Or was it in the article here and I missed it?

  • Perhaps you could find another website to visit.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    And yet, you still come here every day? You, dear, are in need of therapy.

  • Jan

    Both are suffering. Whenever I fly, I do make special arrangements for my disability–requesting a wheelchair and an attendant. Yet, many times another passenger decides he/she would like a ride–and I’m stuck waiting. But I’m not complaining. The attendants do their best to help me. And I make it a point to say please and thank you to the attendants–smile at them–make eye contact–let them know they’re special to me.

    Making an effort to be kind and appreciative–even if an attendant is not–doesn’t take much effort. I reward with kindness. Since I’m an elder traveler, I want to show my appreciation. I tell the individuals I couldn’t live my life as I wish if I couldn’t make use of their assistance. But this doesn’t mean I won’t report someone if he/she is insulting or abusive. I also write to “headquarters” to report positive behavior.

    Yes, I fly in the US, Europe, and Asia quite a bit, and I do come across the occasional not-so-nice airline employee. But one never knows why the person is acting out. Give them the benefit of the doubt–airline travel is not meant to be fun or luxurious in the cheap seats–which are the only ones I can afford!

  • I’d like to welcome all the critics who discovered I have a blog today. Good work! I’ve been here since 1997, so I’m afraid you’re a little late to the party.

    We love dissenters, but unlike the dark, ethics-free corner of the Internet some of you came from, we have standards that are enforced by moderators.

    My advice? Criticize all you want, but please refrain from personal attacks. Otherwise your comments will be promptly deleted.

  • Nancy Nally

    I literally am afraid to open my mouth when I’m on a plane. Since the new post-9/11 regulations gave FA’s so much power, if you say anything that they don’t like, they just have you arrested. I’ve seen way too many who wield that authority not for the safety of the public but as a weapon to keep the public out of their face. I am actually more anxious when flying about getting in trouble with the power hungry TSA and FA’s than I am when visiting my husband in prison. The prison guards, for all their well-earned reputation for loving to abuse visitors and inmates, are more reasonable. It has seriously come to that….

  • Nancy Nally

    One professional blogger to another Chris…standing O.

  • Chris Johnson

    I’ve encountered the occasional power trip from a flight attendant but regardless of who was right or wrong in the situation, I just choose to sit and take it (perhaps I haven’t encountered anything as bad as some people). I’ll only see be seeing that person for a few hours at most, and then I’ll never see them again, having never encountered the same flight attendant twice in all my travels (which used to be frequent). The risk of being removed from the plane for being deemed a security risk (however bogus the reason might be) makes my own dignity less important in that situation and just not worth arguing with somebody who is that insecure about themselves they choose to go on a power trip.

  • I think one of the best flights I was on was with low cost Wizz Air from Bucharest to Bergamo. The whole experience was somewhat like “follow the rules…or else”. If your carry-on was too big, check it, no questions asked and enforced. The seating was general admission of sorts, but I paid the $5 for extra legroom (yes, I said low cost). Someone tried to sit in that row, and they were promptly chased out. Everything had to be in the overhead bin at takeoff, even my jacket (which I had taken off). Enforced. Electronic devices…I don’t speak Romanian but I can tell they were enforcing the rules there too. Almost a militaristic stance for the rules, but everyone followed them, no one complained, and actually the flight was very pleasant.

    I can see how people get annoyed, both passengers and FAs. Passenger often think the rules don’t apply to them, or that perhaps they could stretch it just a bit… run their device a bit longer … or bring on a bag that is a bit too large. And often they get away with it. FA’s have to deal with this, and other things. FA’s get annoyed, they might take it out on passengers. A vicious cycle? Not sure if there is a solution.. but I do see the problem.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Plenty of blame to go around. Unless the FA was super rude from the get-go there’s no reason for an apology because the bag would actually fit under the seat. And that case ended up sounding like a couple Kindergartners. “Here’s my last name so you can report me.” “Call me doctor.” Both need to just grow up.

    The guy with the broken leg has my utmost sympathy, but I can see why they can’t have people sticking out in the aisle. Not only would the carts bump the guy, but he’d have gotten bumped by people walking by or tripped people. Aisles aren’t wide enough to begin with.

  • katestr

    I enjoy Chris’ articles tremendously…they are very informative and interesting.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Unless you’re wearing a name badge 24/7 how exactly are people supposed to know you’re a doctor? Should airline employees call everyone doctor just to make sure they don’t miss anybody?

  • Chris Johnson

    Not that I agree with the flight attendant in this situation, but however hard-earned the title of Doctor may be, how is the flight attendant supposed to know or care about that? Puh-leeze!

  • technomage1

    So don’t read it. It’s a big Internet.

  • emanon256

    My wife is a Dr. She gave up most of her 20s and part of her 30, and we put off starting a family for a long time, and she insists no one ever call her Dr. and prefers people to call her by her first name because she did it to help people, not to feel superior. She also always says that anyone who insists on being called Dr. is a pompous DYKWIA.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    No, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to be just a little nicer–but that applies to the good doctor in the story, as well. Asking for an apology because the FA thought her carry-on was a little larger than it actually was? That’s not very friendly.

    And the FA addressed the passenger as “Miss” which is a perfectly acceptable title to use when you know absolutely nothing about the person. In that exchange all asking to be called “Dr.” did was make it more contentious. She probably should have just smiled and realized her title was totally irrelevant in that situation. It takes two to tango and both sides were acting poorly.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Yeah, you’re right, and that occurred to me after I hit “Post”, but it didn’t seem like enough of a deal to come back, edit, etc.

    Not having been there, it also could have been the good doctor’s tone that set off the FA. I also went and read the original article (which is behind a subscription wall – yuk) and still feel the FA over reacted by having her kicked off the flight.

    According to the original article, the airline’s reasoning for removal was, “When faced with an individual who is confrontational, unwilling, or unable to cooperate with crewmember instructions, the crew may elect to remove the individual”. I’d say the passenger was certainly confrontational. But, the FA wasn’t completely innocent, either.

    However, and this is the interesting part of the story, the pax and her husband are upset the pilot didn’t get more involved. “And the biggest issue, in my humble opinion, is that we weren’t able to talk to the captain and that the captain made no attempt to analyze the situation.”

    So now, I’m thinking these two aren’t so much slighted passengers as much as they are self-entitled jerks. They don’t care there is a plane-load of passengers who need to get to their destination, they don’t care the pilot has a checklist to get through, they don’t care the FAA wants them to take off on-time or pay a fine. No siree Bob, all they care about is the pilot needs to talk to them!

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Have you tattooed it to your forehead, yet? How are we, the minions, to know you’re a medical doctor unless you inform us first, somehow?

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I addressed it below, in a response to another poster. And, you’re right…

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Squeeze the cart where? They’re within a couple inches of the width of the aisle. They routinely warn you not to have your elbows too far out on the armrest or you’ll get hit.

    Best case scenario is they let him extend his leg until they needed to pass with the cart and then he would have had to of moved out of the way. But the problem with that is other passengers also use the aisle. There’s a very high probability somebody either trips over him or bumps him causing him pain. That’s why they want to keep the aisles clear.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Airlines aren’t permitted to force you to check a laptop. All you had to say was, “It’s my laptop and I prefer not checking it”. It would have been fine.

  • emanon256

    In my many years of 100K+ a year flying, I have seen passengers treat flight attendants poorly far more often than flight attendants treating customers poorly. I honestly don’t know how they put up for some people, and most of them do it with a smile. Every once in a while there is a grumpy mean flight attendant for whatever reason.

    When I had a foot injury in 2011 and had to stick my foot in the aisle for a few weeks, I was often treated better. I was also thanked and sometimes given free booze for trying to put it in when the cart went by. Though this was on United just before the merger, who knows it they would do that now. I do think that FA was wrong to force the passenger to jam his injured leg.

    However, demanding an apology and demanding to be called Dr. when the flight attendant doesn’t even know your title, and then demanding an apology again just seems like an over the top sense of entitlement. She should not have been thrown off for that, but she sure was asking for it. Some people just need to let things go and move on.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    This is a passenger who should have asked BEFORE flying for handicapped/disabled assistance. Airlines have special seating for people in this situation, generally bulkhead. By keeping your leg in the aisle, as this passenger was, creates a safety hazard. Imagine the scenario of everyone having to rush off the plane. Can you imagine the pileup at that row where the first person tripped over a broken leg in the aisle?

    It’s a safety issue, not a beverage cart issue. Had the passenger asked, they would most likely have been moved to a bulkhead seat. They didn’t ask and created a safety problem.

  • mszabo

    Chris did post a link, but his link was behind a paywall. I just googled “Chicago Tribune brotine”, google always seems to be able to bypass paywalls. Anyway this should work: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/problemsolver/ct-biz-0127-problem-brotine.jpg-20130125,0,372373.photo

  • Sharon

    I vote flight attendants have it worse, as they have to work with the entire flight of overstressed, suffering, cranky passengers and I am sure that is no picnic to face day after day with a smile on your face. I also hate being a passenger–I havent flown since 20007!


  • mszabo

    What and insult doctors further by using the term on lowly peasants?

  • mszabo

    It must be a cookie thing, I just tried 5 seconds ago, and I hit the paywall.

  • JenniferFinger

    I think the flight attendant on Mennitto’s flight was pretty rude and inconsiderate to the passenger with the cast on his leg. But Brotine shouldn’t have insisted on being called “Dr.” This is something the flight attendant couldn’t have known about her, and it does make her appear entitled. Not helpful to her case.

    As to whether flight attendants or passengers suffer more, I think it’s situational. Some passengers act very entitled, but some validly need extra help and either don’t get it or get pushback when they ask for it or it should be obvious that they they should get it. And I certainly agree that flight attendants have some very stressful jobs…but that doesn’t excuse rudeness and shouldn’t excuse lack of basic courtesy to passengers like the one on Mennitto’s flight with an obvious painful injury except when people had to go up and down the aisle.

  • Tina

    Flight attendants are notoriously nasty with a smarmy grin on their face. I have never met a nice one.

  • Diver Dan

    Was the airline not accomidating a person with a disability? Seems like an airline/traing of flight attendents problem. A good lawsuit or two with some more publicity would help the airlines install better procedures and training.

    The FA are “steped on” by the airlines all the time, they need to be respected by there managment and they will have a better attitude. When airline managment wakes up to this (by losing money or passengers to competition) all will be better. One big problem is the fight to be the lowest cost/fare to get passengers. People want First Class service at “Big Buss” prices. Can’t happen. Cheap, good or on time pick any two. I do agree that the current trend is to label anyone that questions a security threat and needs to be removed, and that passengers are being quite to not envoke the wrath of the FA and get kicked off the plane. Thats why my first comment about disablity lawsuits, let all the dirty laundry come out in court and in the press, hopefully things would get better.

  • $16635417

    I flew 2 days after knee surgery and could not bend my leg. (Tickets booked before I knew I needed surgery.) I called and explained my situation, I could walk on crutches but the agent suggested a wheelchair. I proudly stated I didn’t need a wheelchair, but she advised that request would trigger the special service to make sure I had the most comfortable seat available to me under the circumstances. I agreed. When I got to the airport, the agent called over a wheelchair attendant when I checked at the counter…I figured what the heck, he’s here now…so I went for the ride. I was able to pre-board, got a bulkhead aisle and the “FLIGHT ATTENDANT” asked if I could move my foot out of the aisle. I explained that was the problem, that I could not bend it, she said that was not a problem and stood while other boarded to make sure they didn’t hit my foot. She worked around my foot during the flight and appreciated my efforts to keep trying to move it as far over as I could to be out of her way. At the end of the flight, she even stopped others behind me from leaving in order to get me and my foot off the plane. I try to be nice to people and it usually works…I hear the word “stewardess” and I sense a demeaning tone…which is usually re-payed in kind.

  • Bob

    A year or two ago the Wall Street Journal published an article about jobs and the relationship between authority and status. It concluded that the people with authority and low status (specifically TSA agents) tended to abuse the authority. We see more articles all the time where flight attendants. Do the same thing.

  • pauletteb

    Unless we’re able to afford First or Business Class, passengers and crew alike are suffereing. All I expect from a flight is to get from point A to point B safely in a relatively timely fashion, no more, no less. Observing the behavior of many of my fellow passengers, I’m surprised FAs are as polite as they are.
    Mennitto’s claim that the FA making the guy in the cast move his leg out of the aisle was “torture” is more than ridiculous. I broke my foot on a visit to my daughter a couple years ago and managed to get my knee-high walking cast under the seat just fine. Brotine doesn’t come off any better; she was right about her carry-on and the FA was wrong; get over it! The fact that the security person “materialized” during her discussion with the FA tells me it had escalated beyond conversation, and she deserved to have her self-entitled butt removed from the plane.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Thanks for trying, but all I got was a picture of the sour-pussed “Doctor” and her spouse. Whew! That pic was enough to have me cheering for the FA. :-)

  • Alan Gore

    OK, you’re sore because you had been hoping to pass on your longstanding Plutonium Elite flyer status on Jetblast Air to your firstborn son (did an abbey come with the title, by any chance?) One day, your footman brings an ominous telegram to your drawing room: Jetblast has changed the rules on award travel, and you’re a commoner again. Join the rest of us ‘kettles’ in the sweaty old complaint line.

  • I regularly read John Yates. You can bypass the paywall by accessing his articles through his Facebook page.

  • jmtabb

    In the Brotine case, tone of voice and attitude is everything.

    The Flight Attendant is doing her job – we all complain loudly about the gate agents and flight attendants not enforcing the carry on baggage rules, and here we have a flight attendant doing just that. The “it fit on your plane yesterday” comment that Dr. Brotine says in the Chicago Tribune article assumes that the airplane is the exact same plane. If the plane is different, the seat configuration could be different, the space under the seats could be different, and the suitcase may not have fit. Heck, unless the exact seat was the same, you may find that you’ve got a seat with the IFE box underneath it that you didn’t have yesterday, or some other issue that would keep a specific suitcase from fitting when it fit just fine the day before.

    I’m guessing that this entire interaction went wrong from the beginning, and Dr. Brotine’s reaction to everything the flight attendant said was aggressive enough to p*** off the flight attendant.

    The fatal flaw was in demanding an apology – what for, doing her job? She wasn’t “wronged” by the flight attendant’s comments – she was still in her seat, and her suitcase still fit. That’s probably what got her kicked off the plane, even before she demanded to be called “Dr.”

  • This is a tough one. Someone with a straight-legged cast can’t easily move their leg as someone would a bag. I just think if the shoe was on the other foot and I was the one with the cast and had to fly somewhere, I’d sure appreciate others being understanding while I tried my best to not be in people’s way…

  • jmtabb

    They may not be permitted to take the liability for checking a laptop, but they can certainly require you to check the bag. They can require you to take the laptop out of the bag. You and the laptop board the plane, the bag goes into the cargo hold.

    That’s why I always put my laptop into a neoprene sleeve type bag inside my larger bag, so I still have some protection should my carry-on have to be checked (on smaller regional jets, for example).

  • KaraJones

    I certainly feel that flight attendants should be treated with respect and common courtesy, as should everyone else that we encounter throughout the day. (Well, that is, until whomever it is clearly demonstrates that they no longer deserve it.)

    In the case of flight attendants, I’ve noticed in the past few years that MOST of the time, they simply watch you board the plane and they chat with the rest of the crew during the boarding process. They (most of them) no longer smile and welcome you aboard. So right then, they are creating a barrier between you and them. If passengers felt welcomed and invited – and part of the “scene”, instead of being made to feel like intruders, it would preempt some of the nastiness like what was discussed above.

    A while back there was an off-shoot airline called “Song”. The flight attendants all had great personalities. They were entertaining in every sense of the word – they’d smile and joke with passengers and sometimes even sing! It settled everyone down with a smile as they got on the plane and got seated and started off the trip with a good mood all around. It relieved the tension – that starts from the point of being degraded by the TSA – that sets our moods to pissed-off before we even reach the gate. I’m willing to bet that “Song” flights rarely saw issues like what’s described in this article.

    I understand some FA’s are not happy with their jobs. Lots of us aren’t happy with our jobs. But the sad fact for them is that so long as they are still working at those jobs, they are obligated to interact with the public, so it is appropriate that they should be friendly and kind to the people they encounter. And they do have a choice – if they don’t like their job and they are not feeling like they want to be friendly and kind to the public (passengers) then they have the option to look for another job. When your job is public-facing, you don’t get to give an attitude to the public – you get to find another job that is not public-facing. Yes, of course, there are a lot of idiot passengers, and those individuals should be dealt with accordingly. But that doesn’t make it OK for the FA’s to start off the flights with indifference, disdain, condescension or nastiness to their passengers.

    Regarding the question posed in this story: “Is it the unappreciated flight attendants who don’t get paid until the flight pushes back, and who are sometimes still called “stewardesses” by passengers?”

    Seriously? “Stewardess” has become the equivalent of a curse word? Yes, most of us who are under 70 are aware of the fact that the politically correct term these days is “flight attendant”. But for innumerable years, the title was “steward” or “stewardess” and there was nothing demeaning about it. Barring the fact that it’s a genderized term (and I also prefer non-gender-specific titles) there is still nothing insulting or demeaning about it. (i.e., I prefer “server” to “waitress” / “actor” to “actress” – but there is nothing insulting about either of those terms.)

    I have a friend who has been a flight attendant ever since back when she worked for Eastern Airlines. Until a few years ago, every time someone asked her what she did for a living, she’d say “I work in Customer Service for an airline.” We’d tease her about it and ask her why she was ashamed to say that she was a flight attendant (or a “Stewardess”, as she was back in the Eastern days). She would just frown and not answer. As she matured (got older and more comfortable with herself), she stopped doing that and became proud to call herself a flight attendant. I think the FA’s who take umbrage to being called “Stewardess” are doing the same thing. That’s their right but it’s still not an offensive term.

    And with that thought in mind, the “call me ‘Doctor'” thing is a similar situation. Unless I already know who you are, I have no reason to know your title. So under normal circumstances, referring to the unknown Doctor as “Miss, Ms., or Ma’am” is not an insult. BUT…in this case, there was obviously a condescending tone taken by the FA, when she said “Miss” – it set off the return shot of condescension: “my title is Doctor”. They were both behaving childishly but I could certainly see myself giving someone a smart-ass response if I felt that they were being sarcastic to me. (Note to self: Invent a good title. Perhaps: “That’s ‘Goddess’ to you”.)

    P.S.- Let me clarify here – I think the (Doctor) passenger was wrong in this case – but the FA added fuel to the fire.

  • KaraJones

    “Shoe on the other foot?” LOL!

  • I’m happy to call someone “doctor” when they are treating me, just like I would call a policeman “officer” if he were in uniform and on the job. If I saw him in a bar, I certainly wouldn’t call him “officer”. To demand that others call you by a title that is irrelevant to them is pompous. Unless someone is my “reverend”, I wouldn’t address them by that title either. I might make an exception for the POTUS, though, as he’s always on the job…

  • Raven_Altosk

    Hmm…last I checked, even temporary disabilities are covered by ADA. I would like to think that man in the cast reported the airline for failing to provide him with necessary accomodations–meaning, he could not bend his leg and thus was subjected to humiliation and pain by an idiot FA.

    …on the note with the “doctor”…wow, what an entitled snot. “I WILL BE ADDRESSED AS DOCTOR!!!” Do you wear a tag around your neck that says “CALL ME DOCTOR BECAUSE I HAVE SELF ESTEEM ISSUES” or something?

    Also, I’ve found in my life that only english or education majors who hold doctorates are the ones who demand to be called “DOCTOR.” Medical doctors are usually the ones who shrug it off.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’ve gotta snark on the “doctor.” Do we know what type of doctor she was? Five bucks says not medical.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Agreed. Anyone who demands to be called “doctor” by a perfect stranger who knows nothing of their educational background needs to see a doctor for some meds, yo.

  • Love your rationale and phrasing!

  • KaraJones

    “I comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I love that line!

  • Thanks.

  • TonyA_says

    The problem with your thinking (i.e. marginal cost) is that YOU want to decide for the HOST or OWNER what they want to sell their goods and services for. They do not have to justify to YOU or anyone what they want to charge. It’s like me telling your employer you are only worth $1 an hour.

  • jmtabb

    The Chicago Tribune article did mention “patients” to see the following morning, which is why the next Jet Blue flight wasn’t workable for them (though I can’t get back into the article to verify). So perhaps she is a medical doctor. I don’t know how the FA was supposed to know that, and still think she was already on her way to being escorted off the plane before she made that comment.

    Edited to show “perhaps _she_ is a medical doctor….”, and a quick re-read of the article here shows that it did say she was an internist.

  • cjr001

    I flew on Frontier less than 2 weeks ago and one the flight attendants was not only a nice guy, but he was cracking jokes and having all manner of fun. Especially after his coworker was struggling to get through the safety instructions. I was disappointed when he wasn’t there for my flight home.

    There are plenty of bad flight attendants who get power trips, but there are plenty more who are just trying to do their job.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    What airlines do you work for?
    Is that you Jeff, the CEO of United?

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    …especially the United flight attendants.

  • This one really needs a “both” option, because I have witnessed both sides of the issue.

    Some airline employees (gate agents more than FAs, but I’ve seen both) seem to either be on a power trip or decide that it’s their right to take out their anger at management on the customers. I encountered a horrible gate agent at BWI about a year ago. I tried to be friendly, but the only reaction I got to my smile was a rudely barked order because I put my carry-on, which she made me check, in the wrong spot on the floor. Any arguing with those types is pretty much a guaranteed ejection. Like another posted noted, it’s gotten to the point where I just meekly clam up and take the abuse, rather than risk having the cops called on me for being a “security threat”.

    On the other hand, some passengers fully deserve the return ire. On a flight the other day, the FA was trying her best to find a place for a passenger’s carry-on so it wouldn’t have to be checked (the bag wasn’t oversized in any way). Good customer service if you ask me. Naturally, the entitled passengers in the row ahead of me became indignant and argumentative when the FA asked them to please remove their jackets from the bins so she could put the bag up there. He basically started blasting away that the lady should be forced to check her bag because he doesn’t want to hold his coat for a 90 minute flight. Never mind that it’s jackwagons like that who stick jackets and small bags in the bins that causes so many people to have to check in the first place.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    For those of us who were raised in a time where they were once called “Stewardess”, it’s not quite the offensive title. At one time, it was only women who were permitted to do the job. When men were admitted to the ranks, they were called “Steward” and we all moved on. Calling them “Flight attendant” is, IMHO, a PC way of doing it.

    It’s old school, and I’m giving away my age.

    However, there was also a time when people were expected to act and dress a certain way, and they did. Nowadays, it’s “anything goes” and people are flying in underwear. My husband was on a flight recently where an older man was wearing a mini-skirt with no underwear and his junk was hanging out the entire flight. People complained but the FAs were scared to say anything, lest they be sued. They didn’t even want to ask him to put a blanket over his waist and legs for fear he’d cause a scene.

  • It’s apparent that airline management cares little about either its employees or customers.

  • SoBeSparky

    I have had to vouch for flight attendants more than once, giving my name and FF number, so that I could verify the FA’s tale of passenger abuse. I have seen a passenger, upon boarding a full flight, demand a glass of water immediately, “or else.” As 180 people are trying to get on the plane, and this FA is trying to help other passengers with their seat assignments and carry-on storage, the FA is supposed to tell everyone to stand aside to get a glass of water and then travel half the length of the plane to get it to her?

    Five minutes later, while the 20-minute-long boarding process continued, the thirsty passenger barged forward against the on-coming wave of passengers and demanded water and her name so she could report her to management. The FA once more told her that once passengers were seated, she would be glad to help her. The passenger railed the FA would be sorry! The DYKWIA (do you know who I am) strategy.

    Yes, I have had an FA pull the “security” card on me once. It happens. But day and day out, the FA’s put up with entitled passengers as an occupational hazard. It is far more common for FAs to get absurdly generated abuse than passengers to be escorted off planes as security risks. The answer, of course, is both, but I tilted to the FAs suffering more.

  • someone who flies a lot

    exactly, what if they officer in the bar was a sergeant? You call him officer and he becomes demeaning…”call me sergeant!” Come on!!!

  • someone who flies a lot

    Barbara Brotine bought her small Samsonite suitcase in December for flights like the one she took on JetBlue last Sunday.

    bag is big enough to hold a laptop and a change of clothes and small
    enough to fit under an airplane seat, allowing her to skip checking

    The flight to New York, for treatment following a recent joint replacement, was a breeze, and the suitcase fit perfectly.

    But on her flight back to Chicago on Monday afternoon, the suitcase proved to be trouble.

    Hoping to avoid the jostling that often occurs during boarding, Brotine and her husband, Brent, waited until the flight was mostly full before walking down the gangway.

    then, the plane’s overhead bins were full, and JetBlue employees were
    checking some carry-ons. Brotine said there was a gate agent taking
    luggage as passengers boarded. The agent said nothing about her bag.

    as Brotine walked to her seat in row 17, a flight attendant several
    rows away asked if Brotine could fit her suitcase under her seat.

    “I said, ‘Yes I can,'” Brotine said. “She said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yes, I put it under the seat on your plane yesterday.'”

    Brotine passed the flight attendant, the woman looked at the suitcase
    and said, “Oh, it’s smaller than I thought it was,” Brotine said.

    said, ‘It would be nice if you apologized to me,'” Brotine recalled.
    “She made a comment under her breath. I made the comment, ‘And your
    attitude could be improved.'”

    That, apparently, was the wrong thing to say.

    A short time later, the flight attendant came to her seat, Brotine said.

    says, ‘Miss?’ and I look up. And she said, ‘Miss, I just wanted you to
    know that my name is Tina so you can tell my supervisors about me,'”
    Brotine said.

    By then Brotine, an internist from Evanston, was miffed.

    “I said, ‘My (title) is doctor so you can address me as that, and I want an apology.”

    apology never came, but a few minutes later a man who identified
    himself as flight security arrived and asked her to follow him off the

    Brotine and her husband walked with him into the gate area,
    where she was told she was being removed because the pilot had deemed
    her a security risk.

  • jikinn

    If you go to Jon Yates’s Facebook page, and “Like” it, you can read the articles without paying (except if you’re using my Android phone, but that’s another story…)

  • jikinn

    Here’s the title of the Facebook page: “Jon Yates: What’s your problem?”

  • G.W.

    I’m old enough to remember when flying was fun. Years ago, I boarded a flight out of Houston to Charlotte, NC with my 4 month old daughter. I must have looked harried or frustrated because the FA’s took her from me and I didn’t see her again til we landed and they handed her back to me, dry, fed and giggling. I still praise their names 30 something years later. Talk about going above and beyond for the customer!
    These days, I hate to fly. The seats are crowded, planes oversold, TSA and their serial molesters make it miserable before you ever get to the gate. In their defense, FA’s now take the brunt of every budget cut, every security precaution, and every grumpy passenger. However, a decent FA can make a flight a little more comfortable just by using a gracious tone of voice. Far too many want to bark out orders, add a little extra helping of “snotty” when answering questions and seem to just not care.
    If you hate your job that bad, it’s time to find a new job.

  • jikinn

    This made me laugh – at myself. The first time I flew on a regional plane, I couldn’t understand why everyone (mostly people in suits) was gate checking their carry-on bags. I thought, “my computer’s in here, and there’s no way I’m checking it.” I didn’t know that you aren’t supposed to bring even smallish carry-ons on the regional planes. I felt like a doofus when I realized that all of those other (experienced) fliers knew what they were doing, and I was the one out of step!

  • KaraJones

    Thanks for posting that.
    Brotine should have waited till after the flight took off before behaving like a jerk!

  • Grant Ritchie


  • emanon256

    Wow, the flight attendant sounded like she was being pleasant until Brotine demanded an apology.

  • flutiefan

    “Passenger often think the rules don’t apply to them”:
    that’s probably the #1 problem.

  • flutiefan

    that’s funny, i meet about a dozen a day.

  • DavidYoung2

    Ooooohhh.. you’re a doctor. Maybe you can help – I have a pain in my tushy. It’s right here (hold up mirror).

    Note to all you fellow doctors out there: It’s nice that you made the educational commitment to get your doctorate. Please use that learning experience to understand that nobody really cares.

  • Emanuel Levy

    From my experiences there is no room to move the cart to either side of the isle. It takes up almost the entire one

  • emanon256

    Wow, I never knew. I always thought it accommodated for temporary disabilities to as all of my employers have. I just looked it up and it actually specifically excludes any disability lasting less than 6 months.

    I do have to mention again, it also excludes therapy snakes :)

  • dourdan

    This reminds me of the video that is going viral; a judge gives a teenage girl a 5,000 dollar bail, she says “adios” instead of “bye sir” “or thank you, good bye sir” so he ups it to 10,000, she then gives him the finger- so he gives her 30 days in jail.

    Flight attendants are on the same level as that judge. They are NOT waitresses, they are NOT sales reps in a department store- where you can say “i demand respect” and not get in trouble. they are on the same level as law enforcement.

    would you ask a police officer to apologize for pulling you over? (if they made a mistake and were no longer going to give you a ticket?) Would you ask that they refer to you as DR?– NO you would say “thank you” and hope they leave with no further issues.

  • “they are on the same level as law enforcement.”

    No…they aren’t. They don’t carry guns or badges. They are not like a judge. I would say they are “flight attendants” and their duties go with whatever that implies.

  • bodega3

    I have. I often wonder when someone makes a statement like this, if they aren’t seeing their attitude returned?

  • john4868

    FAs are not cops and sure as heck not judges. When law enforcement or judges abuse their authority, there are consequences for that. Doesn’t seem to apply to FAs

  • Nikki

    …or walloped with a clue-by-four. Sheeeeeeeeeeesh. -smh-

  • oldft

    I could vote today, because… some 50+ years ago, when I was a 20something Airman3 trainee, we were required, at 6AM one freezing January morning, to stand for inspection on the flight line…I (guess) I can understand the USAF’s concept of discipline/training; but what almost sent me into an uncontrollable laughing fit was our reviewer… a 40something year old with lettuce on his hat and a star on his shoulder…what in HELL was this poor guy, the equivalent of a corporate CEO, doing out here in these conditions?

  • y_p_w

    It’s of course irrelevant to her importance as a passenger. I’m guessing from the way it was described, it was designed to put the flight attendant “in her place” – i.e. less important than she was.

    On the flight, nobody is a doctor save the times when there might be medical emergencies; everyone is a passenger. The amount of education or training one has (or even the amount paid to fly in coach) doesn’t equate to the amount of respect that one should get.

  • y_p_w

    They also have to do it over and over again.

  • Helio

    The same with me! ;-)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I got paywalled with a pop up. I hit the X button on the top right to close the pop up. Then I was on the today’s paper on the front page. So I went to the search box at the top right and typed in “Brotine”. Ta da! Success.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Was he carrying a light saber, too?

  • I like most flight attendants that I meet, they’re interesting human beings and I enjoy chatting with them. But they can behave just as badly as the passengers. The key educational element to take away from these stories, however, is simple: “Don’t mess with a flight attendant, especially before takeoff when you can get ejected from the flight.” After some Northwest lummox ran over my foot for the third time, even tho said food was well inside “my space” in a bulkhead seat, I told her to stop, that none of the other FAs had run over my foot and I wasn’t going to put up with it. All I got was a glare, but she could have made my flight miserable or worse, and subsequently I refrain from any confrontation at all, no matter what happens.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    For people like me who have no idea in the world what a kettle is (except by context), from Urban Dictionary:

    An irregular air traveler (1-2x/year) who feels entitled to use first class and premium check-in counters, attempts to board during first class or elite boarding groups. Kettles are often oblivious to boundaries such as curtains separating first class from main cabin, or by crowding around Priority boarding lanes to prevent premium customers from accessing them.

    [Example] Airline passenger traveling with too much luggage both out of touch with and unaware of airport boarding and security procedures is a Kettle.

  • jon

    On some airlines, flight attendants don’t start getting paid until the plane takes off. Her behaviour was petty but maybe petty is what’s needed given the way the airline treats their employees.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Hi Tony,
    I’m one of the moderators here. From time to time, for a variety of unsavory reasons, posters get tagged with “Low Rep” (Low Reputation) designations. You, sir, are the first poster I have EVER seen who is designated “High Rep”. Even Chris doesn’t have “High Rep” designation! I love it, and thought you’d want to know. :-)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Yeah – what was that one quote about “If you meet 3 _____s in one day, you must be one of them?”

  • KaraJones

    YAY to Tony! : ) Always an incredible source of helpful and accurate information.

  • Helio

    Do you have any preferred payment method? ;-)

    Barbara Brotine, MD practices as an Internist in Skokie, IL.She graduated from Finch U Of Hs/Chicago Med Sch.


  • technomage1

    Note I did say ask, not demand. And if I saw a doctor, police officer, etc in a bar I would address them by their title unless given permission to do otherwise. If you’d worked for years to earn a title, and were on duty 24/7, like a doctor or cop, you’ve earned that respect in my book.

  • Bill___A

    WE all do. There are good and bad amongst the passengers and also the crew. Not to mention the unruly kids no one does anything about (which are not ALL the kids, but enough of them).

  • ExplorationTravMag

    LOL! He seemed to be carrying some kind of saber!

  • emanon256

    Oh, I always thought it was referring to Ma and Pa Kettle from the Beverly Hillbillies and all the luggage on top of their car (including grandma). I guess I was sort of right. I have seen some people on Flyer Talk refer to inexperienced travelers as “The Great Unwashed.” That seems even harsher.

  • emanon256

    HAHAHA!! She reminds me of the people who used to come up to me back in my customer service days and start yelling and demanding I break rules for them before even explaining the problem and then getting mad at me when I ask them to start from the beginning.

  • emanon256

    That’s my new favorite saying.

  • emanon256

    Congrats Tony! You always had a high rep in my book, and you always keep us honest.

  • Trey

    Dear Mods,
    Its good that this place has been found by others, but could you please break out the banhammer on some of these folks?

  • TonyA_says

    Thank you everyone. I did not even know there was such a thing.
    For the record, I read Flyertalk because it is a source of great info. Even if I do not agree with some people sometimes, I want to understand where people are coming from. Now (that my BS is over) will y’all help us dig out of the snow here in Connecticut :-)

  • Miami510

    I’ve done a thorough study of this problem and my research
    has told me that 97.2 % of all passengers and, 98.45 % of all flight attendants
    are nice people who act properly… even when things aren’t going well (sic). The problem is when the tiny percent in each group interact with each other…. Sparks fly.

    There’s no such thing as a professional passenger. There may be those who have more experience, but it’s not something for which one qualifies or studies. Flight Attendants (FA) are a different story. Proper training should include
    lessons in self-control, dealing with difficult situations, just as they are
    taught to deal with emergencies. They should be taught that professionals have a thick skin; after all they are operating on their own turf.
    Of course if a passenger crosses the line and does something illegal or becomes dangerously abusive, then the FAs can invoke security. To do so for minor flare-ups shows a lack of professionalism.

  • emanon256


  • AUSSIEtraveller

    Brotine obviously has a problem !!! She’s just a doctor, a dime a dozen esp in the U.S.
    She has some superiority complex. Maybe she should see a shrink.
    Why do many doctors think they are superior to evryone else ? Anyone can become a doctor.
    It’s not like they are geniuses or rocket scientists.

  • Guest

    Not a nice comment. You should not criticize people on the way they look.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Well, there’s the time honored method of snow removal as practiced by the cities of Lincoln and Omaha: spring.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Done. Sorry about that. We kept hoping it would wind down.

  • emanon256

    I am glad you got the last word (Though he sure kept trying):) I wonder if the Mods deleted his comments, or if he realized how foolish he looked and deleted them himself.

  • Just an update, folks. Unfortunately, we had several threads that got out of hand despite my friendly warning.

    After several moderators asked me to step in this afternoon, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend a commenter and remove his posts, which violated several standards.

    We simply don’t tolerate personal attacks on this site. I allowed a few to slip in this morning because they were leveled against me, and I though I could engage a critic in a thoughtful discussion. But it soon degenerated into name-calling.

    It’s very unfortunate, and I accept the blame for allowing it to happen. My apologies.

  • KaraJones

    ; ) Thanks Emanon

  • Grant Ritchie

    You’re right. I especially shouldn’t have posted a comment like that with my “Moderator” tag attached. Thanks for saying something.

  • KaraJones

    And we worry about cell phones being turned on…..

  • KaraJones

    Grant, I’m still laughing from your comment last week about the “3 people you meet”…

  • Extra mail

    I thought the FA accelerated the confrontation by going back to the passenger and telling her her name so the doctor could report her. I’da been hard pressed not to say something snarky back so I don’t think the doctor was doing anything but dishing out what was has being given. But, the FA had the last laugh by having the doctor taken off the flight. I have to agree with others that FA’s need to be held accountable for such actions so they also think twice before pulling the “kick off the flight” card.

  • Extra mail

    Keep that thought until the next time you have a medical emergency.

  • Extra mail

    Rather ironic that your article about civility in the air is one of the few articles you had to delete comments. Guess there should have been an “all of the above” option on the poll question.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    LOL, I guess it’s all a matter of perspective…

  • Raven_Altosk

    Whoa, there’s a name for those people? I usually just call them Clueless. If they’re of the entitled variety, I have another name for them that isn’t allowed on this family friendly site ;)

  • Grant Ritchie

    One of my best! :-)

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I regularly hand out my business card with my FF# on it to FAs who were abused by a passenger. I’ll usually have their backs… (Except for the FA who told me once, “But you don’t look disabled”.)

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Man, you go away for a couple hours to get some work done and all hell breaks loose! I feel so much like the shy girl in the corner at the prom, now…

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I have no doubt that you do! :-D

  • I know. I should have included a third option. If I’d only known.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Hi all,
    I’d like to apologize for some of your post disappearing. Today, we deleted the comments of a poster who went a little bit over the top. Then, to avoid confusion, we decided to delete all the secondary posts that referred back to his posts. Sorry for the confusion. Next time, we’ll try to cut things off sooner.

  • MarkieA

    I guess I don’t understand why “Stewardess” is more “offensive” than “Flight Attendant” To steward something is to be a good manager of that “thing”; among the definitions – according to Miriam-Webster – is “one who actively directs affairs”. An “attendant”, on the other hand is, “an employee who waits on customers” or “something that accompanies”. If I had my choice between the two, I’d pick Steward or Stewardess.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’d prefer to have some of my posts disappear than to allow the level of incivility that occurred today. Thank you.

  • Daisiemae

    How do you know that the passenger did not call in advance? How do you know the airlines could have provided any accommodation for this passenger that would have enabled him to keep his leg completely out of the aisle? Why be so quick to assign blame and scorn?

    On one trip, I called in advance to reserve a seat on the aisle for my husband who has MS. He absolutely cannot climb into the middle or window seat. He has a difficult enough time getting up and down from an aisle seat.

    I explained the problem and was given a seat assignment for an aisle and a middle seat. Sure enough, when we got to the flight, it was not an aisle seat. It was a window seat.

    The flight was full, and the FA could not switch our seats.

    Fortunately, the lady on the aisle switched with my husband when I explained the problem.

    But calling in advance did not solve the problem. I seriously doubt that calling in advance could have provided a seat where this man could keep his leg extended. None of the seats allow that much leg room.

  • Daisiemae

    If you bump people for being asses, the planes will be empty.

  • TxSailor

    In the past I have been a very vocal critic of airlines and how they treat passengers but I will say that my experience over the last year has been remarkably different. I have been required to live with and fly with a big metal knee brace on my left leg, and I always end up with my leg “hanging out” in the aisle since it is painful to keep it bent under a seat. On all of my flights over the last year on both American and United, the flight attendants have been downright wonderful. I always warn them that I might have my leg in the aisle but in every case they have said “no problem” and go out of their way to avoid bumping me. They always say “excuse me” when they bring the cart by and even apologized when they bump my leg as they pass by. At least in the case of American and United, they could not have been more understanding and kind. So my experience with American and United is completely opposite of the one in this story. I tip my hat to the flight attendants I have experienced and to American and United.

    Maybe if the passenger with the cast would have simply spoken to the flight attendant about his predicament before sticking his leg in the aisle, he might have had gotten a completely different reaction from the flight attendants. While I understand clearly that we are paying for the flight (and the crew’s salary) and expect good service, possibly just a small amount of thoughtfulness and civility on our part as passengers, at least to the flight attendants who end up bearing the brunt of our frustration with all of the airline policies made by someone in an executive suite, we all might find flying a more tolerable experience. I have found that just simple, mutual respect, and civility will make a world of difference in how I am treated. Maybe a little “pay it forward” to the flight attendants will pay dividends for all travelers.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Because, Miss Confrontational, had he called in advance, he’d have been given handicapped seating, no questions asked, and it would have given him the leg room he needed.

    But, yeah, your way, asking everyone to change their seats to accommodate you and your narcissistic need to control every single aspect of your environment to suit you and your needs/wants/desires/whims, is far, far better!

  • segv

    i haven’t – but i have been asked to provide medical evaluations/assistance on a flight (and would expect to be asked to do so – and do so gladly) – clearly the flight crew knows i am a physician…. plus they ask when i buy the ticket…. if they know my last name, they should get my title correct or use my first name – either is acceptable to me.

  • segv

    see above – everyone gives more information than they know

  • segv

    then ask for a name –

  • segv

    the difference is I’m expected (and willing) to provide emergent medical care anywhere anytime – even on a plane – they ask and they know

  • Guest

    Your comments about how the flight crew knows you are a doctor makes no sense. I have never been asked if I am a doctor when I have purchased a ticket. And you say they know you are a physician before you say they ask. So how did they know before they asked? And are you are implying by the “if they know my last name”, that they know the last name of every doctor there is and that doctors have unique names?

    Unless you tell them ahead of time, there is no way they know you are a physician ahead of time. Your explanation of how they know doesn’t pass the smell test.

  • mszabo

    That seems like a rather awkward conversation especially when you have 100 other passengers to deal with. Suppose I see you drop something. Would you expect me to first get your name so I can figure out your proper title so I can correctly tell you your wallet is on the ground? In formal situations sure I have no problems with formal titles. In the real world when someone is coming over to make a single statement before they move on, introductions are silly as the FA can’t be expected to remember that for the rest of the trip anyway.

    Back when I worked in a service industry I was always inserting Sir/Ma’am when addressing a customer. Back then though the Ma’am was somewhat taken offence to as it implied age and offended the vanity of some of my customers. I don’t doubt that this trend has continued and would expect Miss to be used when trying to address a particular passenger. I could see an argument for using Miss as misogynistic over Madam if you want to go that route. But that is a more generic argument about society. However I don’t see looking for the Doctor address as reasonable.

  • KaraJones

    “plus they ask when I buy the ticket” – No they don’t.
    Of course, when you call to buy your ticket, if you announce to them in an unsolicited manner: “Hello, I’m Dr. Segv and if there are any medical emergencies on the flight, please note in my ticket record that I will be happy to assist.” – well, then someone MIGHT note that and a flight attendant MIGHT be aware of it.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Getting her removed for being a “security risk” was a load of crap. Both Brontine and FA Tina could’ve acted better, but Tina abusing her power by getting security involved was unnecessary.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    If you call people “kettles”:

    I think calling infrequent travelers who by intention or ignorance violate flying “social rules” or airline rules names is divisive and doesn’t help anyone. Instead of automatically calling someone a name and deriding him, find out first if he just didn’t know better. If he didn’t was not aware of the rule, try to find some understanding and forgiveness in your heart. If he did know and is intentionally being a jerk, then he is a jerk, not everyone who doesn’t fly every week.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Don’t give rude or power-hungry attendants or screeners control over you or your emotions. I understand the feeling, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do.

    (To paraphrase Dr. Zhivago) They may have the power, but they never have the right to abuse you.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Excellent post.

  • Charles B

    I work at a University, where I’ve seen my share of the entitlement that seems to come with some people’s PhDs. I’m in IT as support staff, and had to work with a manager in another department one day. We’re 5 minutes into our meeting and I asked her, by first name, some question. She stopped the conversation cold and told me she was to be addressed as Doctor Whateverhernamewas. Without skipping a beat, I replied, “Very well, I’m Dr. B… Pleased to meet you.”

    They never expect that a lowly IT guy can have a PhD too, much less refuse to hold it over anyone. :-)

  • KaraJones

    Thanks, Jill! : )

  • rwm

    Did you somehow miss the part where she said that she had called ahead? With flights running as full as they are today, there is no guarantee, even if you call ahead, that you can get the desired seat. She was left with no choice but to ask the other passengers to swap seats. Calling her a narcissist because of that is a bit over the top.

  • DavidYoung2

    If you’re a patient, you need a doctor. If you’re a passenger on the plane, you don’t give a toss. Just like if my car is broke I need a mechanic. If I’m shopping for fish, I don’t care if you’re a mechanic. Nobody on the plane cares that she’s a doctor — she mentioned it because she’s trying to impress people who don’t know her and don’t care. It’s an ego / insecurity thing.

  • emanon256

    A while back I described a close relative of mine as “Not knowing how to properly use an airport.” My wife still gives me hell for that, and then laughs about it.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I copied and pasted verbatim from Urban Dictionary their (2nd) definition of a Kettle (note the proper noun; etymology is probably from Ma and Pa Kettle as emanon surmised) as a service to those of us not up on FT slang. Wasn’t calling anyone anything.

  • very nice job you have done.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Oh, I know, Jeanne. That’s why I included the first sentence ‘If you call people “kettles”‘. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear I wasn’t addressing my comments to you.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    No problem – my nuance detector wasn’t working well yesterday. :)

  • RoloT

    Regarding your first paragraph, I have basically the same flying experience for the past 20+ years……and I my experience is exactly the opposite of yours. Maybe 50/50, but I am more often than not amazed at the amount of grief a paying customer will put up with from an airline and its’ personnel.

    As passengers we are now conditioned (beaten down) to accept the choice between radiation or getting accosted just to get to the gate. Once in the hands of the “caring” airlines, our expectations are now so low (when I fly United, I am elated when my flight is less than 1 hour late) that we put up with grief that would have been a rarity 20 years ago.

    Remember that we are the paying CUSTOMERS. That fact does not give any passenger the right to be a jackass but it should guarantee that we are not treated like we are less than cattle.

  • Chas

    It isn’t a matter of what you put up with in the past, it’s what you do in the here and now. We don’t forgive mass murders for a reason, that is, they did not have to make that particular choice.

  • JewelEyed

    You can always skip ma’am, miss, sir, and just say “Excuse me” before you launch into whatever you’re about to say.

  • JewelEyed
  • first2flight

    Good job in stopping the bullying posts. I have been on a few flights with “attendants behaving badly.” On a flight from London, the crew draped their coats over all of the seats in the exit rows. When I complained we had gotten up extra early to be the first in line, she retorted they were allowed to do that if the flight was over 8 hours. I replied, the flight was 7 1/2 hours. After complaining to USAirways, they issued us free travel vouches and apologized. Another time I saw an attendant get very rude with a little lady who appeared to be in her 80s. When I mentioned it to the attendant (quietly and respectfully) she apolgized and said she was having a bad day.
    But, I’ve seen more passengers trying to squeeze luggage they know is too large aboard and then ask the flight attendents for help lifting it.

  • lenaznap

    I think it is likely that most sympathy for flight attendants is a function of lowered expectations. I have come off of flights where I was pleasantly surprised by the service, but when I examine the reasons why I thought it was “good,” it is usually the fact that the flight attendants met the minimum requirements for service I would expect from any business. When you expect a poor experience, this registers as good.

    After a “good” flight, on being asked why it was good, I once literally responded, “When the drink cart came down the aisle, they didn’t ignore me and served me a Diet Coke.” or “The flight attendant didn’t harass me for knitting although she scolded the passenger in the seat in front of me for holding his earbuds in his hands disconnected from his iPod before electronic devices were allowed.”

    It is sad when this serves as an example of a “good” flight.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.