Coffee, tea, or you wanna piece of me?

Americans have become somewhat used to seeing headlines like this recent one from the Chicago Sun-Times: “Chicagoans help subdue unruly passenger on detoured United flight.”


Some passenger goes nuts — in this case a woman who started snatching necklaces off people, including a flight attendant — and flight crew members cooperate with Good Samaritan passengers to subdue the agitator until the plane lands safely.

It happened again Sunday on a JetBlue flight from Washington to Jacksonville, according to a Fox station in Jacksonville. After four drinks, some guy put another passenger in a headlock, then tried to leave the plane in-flight.

I fly a fair amount and I’ve never encountered this. However, it happens with some regularity.

But what do you do when the people going nuts are both flight attendants, themselves?

A recent report by The Aviation Herald says this is exactly what happened Jan. 22 on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis. The report said a fistfight between attendants started “over work issues.” This time the Good Samaritan, a female passenger, tried to intervene but apparently got smacked, herself. That was the last straw for the captain, who made an emergency landing in Salt Lake City to “hear from his flight attendants.”

Work issues? Like what, who gets to pour drinks and who passes out peanuts?

This report surfaced about this same time airlines in China agreed to share a “black list” of unruly passengers in an effort to make flying safer, according to The Globe and Mail.

Asia had a particularly exciting time in 2015 in this regard. The Globe and Mail said:

“In July 2015, Chinese authorities suspended operations at a small airport in east China after a man set fire to a curtain and newspapers in the first class cabin on a Shenzhen Airline’s flight from the coastal city of Taizhou to the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.

“Thai authorities last year also detained some 30 Chinese tourists who decided to let off steam by singing the Chinese national anthem and refusing to board a plane in Bangkok after their flight was delayed for over 10 hours.”

I can sort of understand the singing thing. Flight delays are frustrating. In this country, however, I doubt many people could get past the first verse of “The Star Spangled Banner,” making for a short protest.

Having a guy set fire to an airplane, however, definitely would make it hard to sleep or watch a movie on your phone. Also, the arsonist probably didn’t get any better legroom after pulling that stunt.

Passengers aboard that Delta flight got a letter from the airline saying, “I am sorry we didn’t deliver on our brand promise for you today.” Apparently, that promise includes not getting punched by the people there to serve you.

If U.S. airlines ever try to make a list of bad passengers, it’s only right that they give passengers a list of unruly flight attendants, as well, just so we can check when we get aboard.

Meantime, in this age of obsession over terrorism, it’s clear passengers need to be prepared for trouble from all sides. Either that or the TSA should start administering psychological tests while they use those wands.

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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