Here’s what happens when you put the TSA and Knee Defenders in the same story

What does the TSA and the Knee Defender have in common? They’re both incendiary topics on this site.

I’m putting them together today for a good cause.
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“Let’s go out on the tarmac and deal with this, just you and I, right here, right now”

american air2Depending on your point of view, Sean Hillen’s case is either an example of an airline crewmember on a power trip or a passenger behaving badly.

Or maybe both.

Hillen wants me to mediate his case with American Airlines after he and his wife were removed from an American Airlines flight from Santo Domingo to Miami.

When the Hillens boarded American flight 662 on Feb. 27, he asked a “steward” for help stowing his bags. The crewmember refused.
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Airline passengers go to war over bin space

If mentioning the word “overhead bin” doesn’t raise your blood pressure, maybe you haven’t flown recently.

But John Masters has. On a recent AirTran Airways flight, the Wichita, Kan., legal assistant noticed that the airline made every effort to persuade passengers to check their bags. Many refused.

One air traveler seated near him then laid claim to an overhead compartment that’s meant to store carry-ons for four passengers.
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As flying conditions worsen, airline passengers turn abusive

The number of full-blown, reportable in-flight altercations may be near an historic low. But there there’s no shortage of abusive passengers.

In fact, there may even be more of them.

Air travel has been no picnic during the summer of ’08, of course. But I wasn’t fully aware of the increasingly bad behavior until I began exchanging instant messages with a pilot this afternoon.

Here’s what she’s had to deal with in the last month:

Chewing tobacco spit left in an open cup in the seat back.

Dirty diapers in the seat back.

Chewed gum that has been smashed into the carpet and on the leather seats.

Crayon marks on the tray tables and on the seat backs.

Play Dough smashed into the carpet.

Vomit on the seats and on the side walls. Also in the lav.

Wet napkins and in the seat back pockets soaked with who knows what.

Gang graffiti etched on the side walls and in the lav.

Smashed crackers on the seat and on the floor.

Urine on seats.

Seriously, urine? Graffiti? Dirty diapers? What’s going on here?

Part of this could be retribution for the airline industry’s recent treatment of customers. If it is, then it’s both misplaced and misguided.

Airline employees — the folks who have to clean up the mess — are victims, too. It’s their bosses who have presided over the collapse of customer service and record losses their companies are now suffering. Having to pay a higher fare or a surcharge doesn’t give anyone a license to pee on a seat.

True, flying isn’t what it used to be. But destroying an aircraft is no way to make it better.