Resident pilot 121pilot, a captain for a major U.S. airline, authors a new column on Live and Let’s Fly called Ask Your Captain. His mission: demystify the flight deck and an answer any question you may have on the topic of flying.
Q: We all have difficult co-workers. When one of those co-workers is an FA that comes up to the front with a passenger issue you doubt or disagree with, how do you both have their back as a co-worker and deal with the challenge of a bad/overzealous co-worker that is in the wrong?
A: I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in that position and I can think of only two or three times in my career when a customer has been removed from one of my flights. In none of those cases was their any doubt about the need to remove the customer.
That being said let’s assume that a flight attendant (FA) does come to me with an issue with a customer where they think that customer needs to be removed. My first step is going to be to try and get a picture of what’s going on and why the FA feels this way. Now if it’s something egregious like a customer who is drunk or who physically assaults one of my FAs then that’s easy: they are gone.
But let’s say for example that the customer is a travel blogger who is taking a metric ton of photos and this has the FA uneasy. Then I’m going to talk with the FA and try to understand why they want this customer removed. I’m also likely to speak with the customer personally so that I can make sure I have a full of a picture as possible. At the gate we have agents who are specially trained to deal with customer issues and I’d be getting them involved as well.
In the end if I don’t think that the customer has done anything that merits removal and I don’t believe he or she is going to cause us any trouble in the air then they aren’t going to get removed just because the FA wants them removed. I’ll do everything in my power to get the FA to agree to this because I view it as critically important that they know and believe I have their back. But in the end if the customers conduct and demeanor doesn’t merit removal I’m not going to give in to the FA.
Have a question for the captain? E-mail him at ask121pilot at yahoo dot com and you may see your question appear in a future column!