There was one incident on my British Airways flight to Los Angeles that I did not mention in my trip report: how the crew dealt swiftly and gracefully with an angry passenger who refused to wear a mask and appeared, at least initially, to be a ticking time bomb.
British Airways Flight Attendants Calmed Down An Angry Passenger, Avoiding An Unnecessary Ejection
The mask mandate is over and I am glad of that, but was still in force during my journey from London to Los Angeles on British Airways last August. It was during that period that we saw headline after headline of passengers being ejected from flights or flights diverting over mask compliance.
That could have happened here…but it didn’t. And I think the way BA handled it was very wise and instructive.
A woman, pictured above (I’ve blurred her face), was not happy about something. She spoke harshly to flight attendants, refused to sit down after the aircraft doors had closed, and did not wear her mask. From what I could gather, she was upset over a member of ground staff.
British people, if I can so generalize, are polite to a fault. I think many U.S. flight attendants would not have engaged, but instead simply thrown the woman off, since they did ask several times for her to put her mask on as she expressed her frustration.
But sometimes people just need to calm down and all is well. The crew gave her a moment to vent, the purser stopped by to listen to her concerns, assured her that she took them seriously, and then asked her (“for the benefit of those around you”) to “please” put your mask back on. She did, and was quiet the rest of the flight.
Some mask violators during the pandemic were just obnoxious idiots, but this woman was not one of them. She was just upset…and sometimes we do get upset and don’t always think clearly (in terms of opening ourselves up to being thrown off for not following the rules).
Most people will calm down if you just show them some respect, like this crew did. It wasn’t their problem, per se, but even if they could do nothing in the moment to address what had occurred earlier, they could certainly be an antidote by expressing care while still being firm concerning the mask guidelines.
A nice word does not always solve the problem. Had this woman continued to refuse to wear her mask, the crew might well have had to re-open the aircraft door and had her removed. Thankfully, the incident did not escalate to that point and the passenger calmed down. To the BA flight attendants on my flight, well done.