Oh, did I hurt your feelings?

Although I consider “reader mail” posts a journalistic cop-out — a favorite tool of lazy columnists who can’t think of anything else to write — I’m willing to make an exception today.

During the last few weeks, we’ve had a spirited debate about annoying air travelers. It started with the remarkable story of a passenger who was forced to stand on a cross-country flight. Then I asked you to vote on the person you don’t want to sit next to on a flight. And finally, we had a little run-off election between the top two categories: XL passengers and babies.

Along the way, it seems, I offended some of you.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of ruffling a few feathers. But it’s usually a clueless airline or greedy hotel that’s ticked off, and isn’t making them squirm my job as a consumer advocate?

I don’t really want to offend my readers. But sometimes I can’t help myself.
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Who would you rather ban from the plane: jumbo passengers — or junior?

It’s come down to this: The two most annoying airline passenger types in the world are travelers who can’t fit in their seat and screaming babies, at least according to you.

Don’t you think it’s time for a runoff election?

In case you’re wondering how we got here — other than the fact that this Wednesday feature is called “That’s ridiculous!” — here’s the backstory: Last month, my editor and I got into a discussion on Twitter about annoying passengers. We asked for nominations and whittled it down to a few finalists. The top two were kids and XL fliers, and so here we are.
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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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Ridiculous or not? When flight attendants attack

Maybe I should take more road trips.

After last week’s column on flight attendants who hate their passengers, I’m pretty sure a “wanted” poster of me is displayed in every crewmember break room and galley.

I heard from passengers who shared their own horror stories of abusive crewmembers. I heard from airline employees who confirmed the sorry state of airline service and tried to help me understand it. And I heard from a small group of apoplectic flight attendants who thought the best way to counter the well-documented problems was to kill the messenger.
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Ridiculous or not: Do flight attendants really hate us?

When, exactly, did flight attendants stop caring about us?

I ask for two reasons: First, because of the luscious new trailers for the upcoming TV show Pan Am (see clip, above), which depicts svelte young stewardesses – yes, that’s what they were called back then – serving passengers.

Hard to swallow, that one. But yes, they served passengers back in the day.

And second, because of the preponderance of horror stories from readers like you that suggest things have gone too far in the other direction. That far from the “coffee, tea, or me?” stereotypes of pre-deregulation air travel, modern-day flight attendants employers actually hate us.
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