Ladies And Gentlemen, You Are Now Entering…

Once upon a time, in a suburb of Detroit, a young woman had a double dream:

To live in San Francisco, and be a flight attendant.

It was an almost-impossible double dream, and yet – with some help along the way – she made it happen.

And that young woman – me – considered herself the luckiest person in the world.

Even if my airline did have the ugliest uniforms in the world:

I became a trained, certified flight attendant, and I was going to see that world!

And for three years, I did.

How fortunate for me that it happened then, and not now.

Now when, according to this June 15 article, flight crews are dealing with this:

“2900 incidents of unruly travelers on planes in 2021”?

In three years of flying, I never saw an “unruly” passenger.

I never heard of any of my fellow flight attendants dealing with unruly passengers.

What the hell is going on?

A quick search on the internet brings up plenty of articles with plenty of experts delving into the psyches of what appear to be otherwise OK people who suddenly turn into dangerous, even violent crazies on airplanes.

Like this crazy who attacked a flight attendant in late May:

What the hell is going on?

A number of the articles I read stated that of those 3,000 incidents (the numbers are increasing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up), “2,300” were sparked by the passenger’s refusal to wear a mask.

Ah, yes.

Face masks.

A simple device used to cover the nose and mouth to reduce the amount of potentially contagious droplets and aerosols we breathe, speak, and sneeze into the air. 

One function of a mask is to protect ourselves.  Another function of a mask is to protect other people.  Even if we’ve been fully vaccinated, we can still get COVID.  If we’re infected, we can be asymptomatic, and spread COVID. 

In close quarters – and it doesn’t get much closer than a full commercial airplane – masks are still required. 

Masks will be required at least through September 13, per the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

That means it’s a federal law.

So, what do we do about the crazies on planes from now until September 13, and possibly beyond?

First, we do what Southwest Airlines did after the passenger assaulted the flight attendant and knocked out two of her teeth:

The passenger is banned from flying Southwest:

As in, banned forever:

Chris Mainz, a Southwest spokesman, told NBC News that Vyvianna Quinonez is now “restricted from ever flying on Southwest Airlines again.

“She has been advised this decision is final,” he said.

Better yet, let’s ban all unruly passengers from all U.S. commercial carriers – forever.

That’s right:

Second, I suggest that the flight attendants do a lot less polite asking, and that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) do a lot more of this:

And that traveler facing the $32,750 fine isn’t the only one:

  • A Southwest Airlines passenger faces $16,500 in fines.
  • Two travelers face $9,000 in fines in other cases.
  • A passenger was removed and now faces a fine of $15,000.

That was in May.

And more recently, from June 14:

And this, from June 15:

The word that appears most frequently in these stories about fines is “proposes.”  As in, “The FAA proposes…”

I say it’s time for the FAA to stop proposing fines and start imposing fines.

Put some teeth into this.

Hit people where it hurts:

In their wallets.

That’ll get their attention.

It seems so simple to me.

Flying in a choice.

When we fly, the FAA and TSA have rules we must abide by.  Rules about electronic devices, rules about pets and service animals, rules about prohibited items.

If you don’t want to follow the rules…

Don’t fly.

As to the rule about wearing masks:  They’re mandatory on airplanes, and in the airport.

If you don’t want to follow the rules…

Don’t fly.

As a former flight attendant, I truly feel for the current group that’s forced to “deescalate dangerous situations,” and are faced with verbal abuse and physical harm.

As I said, I’m fortunate.

And that’s why I say:

Then, if you, the crazed, do fly and break the rules, your headline won’t talk about a proposed fine.

Instead, your headline will say:

I think it appropriate that I give a flight attendant the last word:

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