Should a passenger have been kicked off the flight for becoming snippy with flight attendants after he was admonished not to use a first class overhead bin when traveling in economy class?
Economy Class Passenger Kicked Off After Quibbling With Flight Attendants Over The Use Of First Class Overhead Bin Space
View From The Wing shares of a story with the headline, Coach Passenger Kicked Off American Airlines For Using First Class Overhead Bin, but it seems to me he was kicked off for his tone and language toward flight attendants instead.
- He boarded his flight, noticed an entire empty overhead bin in first class even though all but one first class passenger had already boarded, and stuffed his bag in
- A flight attendant standing in the forward galley told him to take his bag to economy class
- Rather than simply complying, he said, “Why? The bin is empty!” and asked how the last remaining first class passengers could possibly use the entire bin
- The flight attendant responded, “Are you refusing to be compliant?”
- He grabbed the bag and said, “This is idiotic,” while walking back to his seat
- After finding his seat, he asked a flight attendant in the back whether there was a specific rule limiting first class overhead bins to first class passengers
- A third flight attendant approached and said the captain was wondering if he will be “compliant” for the rest of the flight
- He mentioned his bag was removed as requested and also asked for a copy of the “passenger rules I need to abide by.”
- Shortly thereafter, two members of ground staff came onboard to escort him off
- He was rebooked immediately on the next flight, which took place about four hours later
The bins in “first class” (what American Airlines calls its domestic front-cabin product in the USA) do have stickers that state they are reserved for first class passengers (the crew use the space too).
But it was the verbal exchange, particularly calling the policy (or perhaps the flight attendant) idiotic, that doomed this guy’s chances of remaining onboard.
Without being there, my take is that the passenger sounds unnecessarily combative, probably is not used to being told no, raised his voice or was menacing in demanding to see the rules, and therefore likely raised the alarm of flight attendants.
While I am not sure his actions rose to the level of “kick him off” worthy, you simply do not argue with a flight attendant over things of this nature–especially the “is there going to be a problem?” power-tripping mamas who seem hellbent on making the flight experience as miserable as possible (I am NOT saying that was necessarily the case here).
I think View From The Wing is correct to say that a better way to handle this would have been for the flight attendant to say:
Excuse me sir, would you mind taking your bag out of that overhead bin please? We’re restricting the use of that bin right now, and there’s plenty of space towards the back of the aircraft. [And, if possible under the circumstances] I’d be happy to show you.
I’m also not sure that the response would have been any different with this guy.
I’m not making any definitive conclusions over this incident because I was not there and because it sounds like both parties could be at fault. My takeaways are: 1.) do not use the first class overhead bin space if traveling in economy class without asking the flight attendant first, no matter how much space you think is left. 2.) when you encounter a rude or hostile FA, don’t make the matter worse by being argumentative or insulting.
image: United Airlines