Here’s a sad bookend to my latest trip report. We discussed a nasty yet passive-aggressive passenger on American Airlines yesterday. Today I share about a nasty and very direct passenger on my Air Canada flight from Toronto to Los Angeles.
A Nasty Passenger On My Air Canada Flight
I did not want to spoil my 787-9 trip report with such a sad side story, but here goes.
Toward the end of the boarding process, a man stormed on. I was in seat 3K while he was seated in seat 1K. Let’s call him Mr. Gupta (because his name was Mr. Gupta…he made that very clear to everyone in the cabin). You could almost see the steam coming out of his ears.
He opened the overhead bin over his seat and saw that it was taken…and flipped out. A flight attendant was walking by and he laid in to her:
“WHY IS THERE A BAG IN MY OVERHEAD BIN?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! I DEMAND TO SPEAK TO THE PURSER!”
Natasha, the purser, was summoned.
Mr. Gupta proceeded to go on a tirade (I’ll spare you the all caps, but he was yelling the whole time). Some of his grievances included:
- “It took me 2.5 hours to clear U.S. customs! (how is this Air Canada’s problem?)
- “Then I spent 3.5 hours in your horrible lounge.” (how is that the FA’s problem?)
- “I asked nine times when the flight boards.” (that’s annoying…to staff)
- “They never told me!” (maybe because your boarding pass indicates boarding time?)
- “I was last to board.” (how is that the FA’s problem?)
- “I was lectured about being late by the gate agent!” (maybe because you had six hours to connect and almost missed your flight…?)
- “I got a dirty look from a flight attendant” (I doubt it)
Poor Natasha. This whole time she sat there listening, nodding her head, expressing empathy, and trying to calm Mr. Gupta. He was so rude to her, and so unnecessarily so. While he wasn’t berating her in a deeply personal way (yet), his volume and tone were such that he was scapegoating her for all that had happened well beyond her control.
Over and over he made a fuss about not having the overhead bin space above his seat at his disposal. Apparently, Mr. Gupta never got the memo that overhead bin space is shared. Natasha found space for him nearby, but that wasn’t good enough. He insisted upon the space directly above his seat for both his laptop bag (there was space for that) and his larger carry-on bag. Finally, he threw up his hands in anger and accepted that his carry-on bag would be…one row back (oh, the horror).
It Gets Worse…
Now if this was it, I might have just left it alone. We all have bad days and this had clearly been a long day for Mr. Gupta. Sometimes when we are tired we do not think clearly or act as we should.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Natasha came around the cabin to take dinner orders. Being in row one, she approached Mr. Gupta first. His response to, “Mr. Gupta, have you made a dinner selection?”
He erupted in anger.
“This is unacceptable! This is a service industry! This is no way to talk to people! You think I have had time to look at the dinner menu? I’m outraged!”
Oh my goodness. He criticized her professionalism in a personal manner for the sin of asking what he wanted for dinner.
And then this:
“I need you to give me bottle of Johnny Walker Black to take home! Or a better whiskey.”
What, no blue label?
Keep in mind that this is all going on at a volume loud enough for me to hear three rows back and for everyone around us to hear too.
I make no apologies for shaming the passenger publicly and directly, especially after he demanded a bottle of liquor. While I certainly wrestled with doing so, the fact that he broadcast his name and yelled loud enough for all 30 passengers in business class to hear weighed heavily in my decision to do so. If he had any expectation of privacy, it vanished when he made a spectacle of himself in front of everyone else.
And I hope that Air Canada will take note of Natasha a wonderful flight attendant who showed unwarranted gracefulness and professionalism in listening to Mr. Gupta and doing everything to calm him down. I can guarantee you he would have been thrown off if this was a U.S. airline.
Over and over and over again I will continue to call out passenger who act poorly onboard, especially when it results in harassing airline staff. I’m not calling for Mr. Gupta’s ban. I hope he is given a chance to apologize and will reflect upon his poor behavior. But he made this issue a public one when he involved the whole cabin in his tirade.
What are your thoughts on the nasty passenger on Air Canada?