Attention all passengers: You’re now free to receive a whooping

Today’s tip for air travelers: Do NOT mess with your flight attendant.

Because they have had it with you. And I don’t blame them. There are a lot of jerks flying the friendly skies nowadays. I’ve personally sat next to some passengers who were bossy, rude and obnoxious. But I promised my in-laws I wouldn’t write about them anymore, so let’s move on to the now-famous airline employee making all the news lately. The facts we know are as follows: After a problem on a recent New York flight, this crew member took bold and decisive action by safely landing the plane on the Hudson River.

No wait, that was Capt. Sully Sullenberger.

The one I’m thinking about here is the JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater, who flipped out after a confrontation with a rude passenger. According to reports, Slater used the plane’s PA system to cuss out the woman. He then activated the plane’s emergency slide while grabbing two beers and sliding down to the runway.

Slater’s erratic behavior has led to many questions being asked, mainly: “Why did he only take two beers?” But other questions are being asked too, leading most Americans to take one of two positions on the man:

1. His unprofessional manner was despicable. He’s an angry, uncaring, insensitive embarrassment to the American workforce.

2. He’s the most awesome guy ever.

It’s easy to see why this story has captivated the nation. After all, it involves three things that Americans love:  verbal aggression, beer, and bouncy slides.

Reports claim that the FAA will charge Slater $25,000 for his actions. That means the cans he took will cost him $12,500 per beer, which – if you’ve ever bought a drink on an airplane – sounds about right.

The story resonates because we’ve all been witness to airline cabin rudeness. Flying is like tequila or Internet message boards: it brings out the worst in people. So I can understand why Slater went bat crazy in dealing with the rude woman. I’ve sat next to people who may have wanted to go down the emergency slide. And that’s while we were still at 30,000 feet. I once had to deal with an angry passenger after landing in Las Vegas on one of those cheap Allegiant flights. He was a grumpy older guy carrying a book (true story) titled, “Texas Hold-em for Dummies,” which I’d soon find out was a very appropriate title.

He began complaining about how my bag in the overhead compartment rumpled up his jacket. I really wasn’t really paying attention to him because: a. I was in Las Vegas, and b. I was in Las Vegas.

Landing in Vegas is always the most exciting moment in my life — especially when it’s a guy’s trip. My wife says my daughter’s birth should be the most exciting moment, which I guess is true. And in fact, going to the maternity ward with your wife IS sort of like going to Vegas with the guys: you’re going to be up all night. There’ll be lots of screaming; crying too. You may see blood. One person will be demanding drugs, and at some point there’ll be a naked girl in your room. A couple of days later you’ll leave, tired and with a lot less money than you started with.

The point is that you should be excited when flying, not angry. Rumpled jacket guy was looking for a fight; I was looking for a bartender and a craps table.

Beyond that, I think if you’re paying $39 for an airline seat, you automatically forfeit your right to complain. This isn’t your $20 million private jet. For $39, I’m happy they don’t stick me in the cargo section.

But it’s this sense of entitlement that’s making passengers angry, and it’s high time the FAA did something about it. We need clear rules on how flight attendants deal with angry passengers. We need leadership on this issue. We need a new head of FAA.

I recommend Steven Slater.

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E-mail Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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