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Publicly Shaming Bad Airplane Behavior: When Will It Stop?

airplane-2Someone on Facebook asked me to weigh in on a post publicly shaming a passenger for his bad airplane behavior. It was posted to a public page with 39K fans and at the moment it has just over 2,500 likes, 770 comments and 200 shares. I’ll ignore the fact that the person responsible posted it to their page supposedly about baby and parenting stuff and had it sandwiched between a giveaway for a dozen strollers and their appearance on the Today Show, because that’s a whole other thing — branding and using your clout  to rally people around some injustice you feel.

The passenger in question (allegedly) pitched a fit about there not being enough room in the overhead bins for his carry-on luggage. After throwing around his title of ‘doctor’ and belittling a flight attendant with the snide remark, “I paid a lot for this luggage and I’m not going to check a bag that cost more than your paycheck,” his bag was accommodated. (Why he didn’t get tossed off the plane is beyond me.) I agree his behavior was unacceptable, but I have enough a**holes in my life — I don’t need to see yours, too. I’m well aware there’s terribly behaved people in the world, just yesterday I was on a plane with three of them from LAX to Indianapolis. I found my patience limit with the ill-behaved passengers during our flight, and y’all? I normally have a very high tolerance for buttheads. I didn’t take their picture, nor did I give my friends and followers a play-by-play of the things I witnessed because, frankly, we all have enough to deal with and who really cares anyway? Besides, in the wake of the Elan Gale kerfuffle no one really cares what happens on airplanes as long as it isn’t happening to them. (It’s also finally taught some people to be a bit wary about what they read on the Internet.)

My response went on to note that if the original passenger is really as important as he thinks he is and can afford luggage more expensive than a flight attendant’s salary, he needs to book himself into first class where he is guaranteed bin space and the ability to avoid many of the travel hassles those of us in coach have to deal with. Even if you don’t book yourself in first class, at least upgrade yourself to earlier boarding or business class. Let’s say he did upgrade himself but was late to the flight … that’s your own problem, buddy. Unless you were in the terminal bypassing someone’s trachea with a ballpoint pen you need to get to the airport early just like the rest of us.

No one knows what Dr. Grumpy was going through. Maybe he just buried his wife, maybe he just lost a patient or yes, maybe perhaps he is just that big of a jerk — but it’s not for us to decide. I am a nice person, but under the very wrong circumstances I can devolve into a weeping, rage-filled, narcissist who only cares about her immediate needs and wants. It’s happened once in an airport and I am mortified at my behavior; imagine if someone felt it was their civic duty to share it on the Internet without knowing I had just come off a 3 hour flight, on my 37th hour of no sleep after one of the most difficult emotional situations of my life. We all have our moments, some more than others. It’s not our job to judge the behavior of others, it’s our job to see how we can help and perform enough small acts of kindness that the big bouts of mean are softened around the edges.

Compassion and grace go two ways, especially when traveling.

In the words of the trolls from Disney’s Frozen:

“People make bad choices if they’re mad, or scared, or stressed.
Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best!
True love brings out their best!”

Of course I’m going to end this rant with a lyric from a Disney song, have you met me?

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Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.

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