Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Air Traveler's Resolution, Smile More, Grumble Less

My son, Antonio will be flying on Christmas.
My son, Antonio, is flying from Charlotte, North Carolina on Christmas Day - so he can be home in Connecticut with the family. When he boards his US Airways flight, he will flash his beautiful smile and wish the gate agent, the flight attendants and the cockpit crew a very Merry Christmas. He'll do that because he's just that way. But also because he knows, and so do you, that people respond to pleasant, with pleasant.

I write this still in a state of flummox having read about a flight attendant who used the F-word and by that I don't mean Fa-la-la-la-la, on a passenger who complained about overpriced cheese and crackers on a Ryanair flight to Pisa. Look, I know it can't be fun working for the carrier everybody loves to hate. With a publicity-seeking yahoo for a boss and a corporate philosophy that seems to be "let's take the passengers for everything they're worth, while they're too busy wondering what happened to that fifty-pence air ticket they thought they bought". 

Still, though not unprecedented, screaming obscenities at passengers is simply not done. Just when I thought that story couldn't be beat I read about the Indonesian public official, who was unable to purchase a ticket on a sold out flight on Merpati Airlines, so he had his minions drive their cars onto the runway, blocking the airplane and preventing the flight from taking off.  

Oh, these episodes are appropriate preamble to the announcement by the International Civil Aviation Organization that next year it will update the laws on how airlines handle unruly passengers. Is it notable to anybody other than me that personal behavior on public transportation has now reached a level that the United Nations must weigh in? 

In his story in the Los Angeles Times, Hugo Martin reports that instances of unruly passengers jumped from 500 in 2007 to 6,000 in 2011. And that's just the passengers. Snippy, unhappy or expletive-spewing flight attendants aren't included in that tally. 

I'm all for airlines having a plan for what to do when someone misplaces their manners at thirty thousand feet, but the mommy in me thinks when the solution takes international organizations and bureaucratic policy makers, it is already too late. 

Capt. Fili Tepeci of Turkish is all smiles greeting passengers
Then I remember that this is the time of year where regrets get buried in the pile of new leaves being turned. So as we make our resolutions to lose weight, read more, stop smoking or whatever, can all of us who travel by air, for work or for play, in the front or in the back, try to smile more and grumble less in 2014? We will all be better for it. 


Grumpy said...

Christine: Thanks for keeping us in the very wide aviation loop - the good, the bad and the ugly.
To you and your family: Merry Christmas! Keep the Shiny Side Up!

Jim Blaszczak said...

I could not agree more.

When a business labels it's personality or culture using the adjectives "genius" or "friendly" it sets a pretty high bar for itself. That type of self description invites critique and puts the employees in the spotlight.

When the corporate culture lives up to the standard it has set for itself good things happen and the company gets a lot of publicity. When the espoused culture is in opposition with the demonstrated culture, that also generates a lot of attention as well, but not in a positive way.

Friendliness and being smart in a successful company is usually assumed. If it is advertised as your specialty, that quality had better be extraordinary.

I think my New Years resolution might be to let people know who I am by letting them see what I do, and not just talk about what I'm going to do.

Unknown said...

Moving Simplified We found out this morning that we may be headed to
Fort Bragg this summer(surprising as we weren't due to PCS for another year)
fort bragg pcs