Best of Aviation Queen: Airlines Crack Down On Crime In The Skies, Says WSJ

Editor’s note: I’m  away on medical leave, so I pulled out this classic blog post from Feb. 28, 2012, on how the airlines were cracking down on crime in the skies. Enjoy!


Back in the 1980s, I was a poor college student going to school at American University while almost all of my family was scattered around California.  Back then, the old PeoplExpress was my savior, giving me a cheap way to fly from Washington National, via Newark, to Oakland.

One of many unique things about PeoplExpress was that you actually paid for your ticket onboard. Flight attendants would come down the aisle and take cash or credit cards.  I saw my first air crime on PeoplExpress.  A passenger didn’t have the money to pay for the flight, so he was moved to the back and the police were waiting when we landed.

And having worked for two airlines, I’ve seen more than my fair share of reports generated when passengers act up on planes.  So I read this Wall Street Journal Middle Seat blog post — Cracking Down on Crime in the Skies — with interest.  “Increased fines and zero-tolerance policies have reduced `air rage” on planes, government statistics show. But dozens of passengers are denied boarding or kicked off planes every day, according to reports from airlines and flight-attendant unions,” says WSJ.  In my experience the vast majority of incidents reported during my tenure were alcohol-related. Some of the reports I saw included:

  • Inflight porn: I’m amazed at how many people had no problem watching porn on their laptops;
  • Peanuts: we’d get reports from passengers who were upset that peanuts were being served on their flight (if you ask an airline for a peanut-free flight when you book it, the request is almost always accommodated);
  • Alcohol: don’t try to tell a drunk that you’re cutting them off mid-flight. Ugly…
  • Seatbacks: some passengers took the lowering of their neighbor’s seatback very personally;
  • Overhead bins: some people felt the overhead bin over their head was their personal space, so removed items already in said bin. Hilarity (NOT) ensues;
  • Seats, in general: folks getting into fights because someone is sitting in their assigned seat and refuses to move; and
  • Food: airline runs out of buy-onboard food, passenger gets upset.

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