June 19, 2013
Written by Jim Cameron
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 23:00
I’m a big guy. Not self-important, but large. So when I’m riding Metro-North at rush hour and the only available seats are those dreaded middle seats in the three-seat rows, I’d rather stand. Why inflict my girth on two fellow passengers and make three of us uncomfortable instead of just one (me)?
Taking public transportation is a compromise. We all must give a little and share the same space, sometimes in much closer proximity than we’d like. Sometimes this can lead to conflict.
Consider the following cases, all true and all from just the past few weeks.
On an eight-hour flight from the UK to Barbados, a fistfight erupted involving a dozen passengers. Halfway across the Atlantic, a group of passengers celebrating “something special” got into a fight with another passenger who complained that they had cursed in front of her child.
The verbal attacks quickly turned physical with fists flying. It took other passengers and crew a half-hour to quell the melee. Barbados police arrested the troublemakers on landing.
Or consider this episode:
A United Airlines jumbo jet bound from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Ghana (Africa) had to turn back when passengers got into a slap-fest over legroom. One passenger reclined his seat. His neighbor behind him protested, but the reclining passenger did nothing. So, the suddenly cramped passenger smacked his selfish neighbor. Other passengers tried to intercede, but the crew decided to turn back to DC after dumping 16,700 gallons of fuel and requiring an escort (at taxpayer expense) by two F-16 fighter jets.
Or on the domestic front, how about the recent Jet Blue flight from Florida to Boston where a man having trouble stowing his luggage under his seat literally slapped a flight attendant? He was arrested.
Or on the rails, how about the woman sitting in an Amtrak “Quiet Car,” who yapped on her cell phone for 16 hours, refusing to observe the rules or move to another car? She was arrested, later complaining that she felt “disrespected” by the incident.
Alas, it’s hard to find out what ultimately happened to these folks, though I think that a little jail time, a hefty fine and lifetime inclusion on the “no flight list” would seem appropriate. Publicizing their punishment might go a long way toward deterring someone else from similar boneheaded behavior.
In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
It’s unlikely that the airlines will ever give us more legroom. And the stress of travel will never go away. Short of slipping everyone a Xanax before the flight, can’t we all just chill out this summer and get to our destination?
For those of you who can summon a private jet, enjoy! For the rest of us suffering in coach, let’s just learn to be civil.
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