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Angry Man on Flight 1074

Last week I boarded a flight to Minneapolis and was, because of my status with the airline, among the first group of passengers to board after those lucky enough to have gotten a first class upgrade. I wasn’t in the beginning of the line, so I was probably the 20th person to board after the first class passengers.

When I got on board I greeted the flight attendants, as I always do, and proceeded to my aisle seat at 7C. Nearing my row, I noticed a very large man standing in front of my seat placing several small items into the overhead bin. The bins in the forward part of the cabin were already getting full so I politely asked (when you read the rest of this sentence you may not believe that I was polite, but trust me when I say that not only was I polite, but that I had a friendly tone and a smile on my face), “would it be okay if you placed all of those items together so that I have room for my suitcase?”

The large man looked up, screwed up his face in anger, moved his head closer to mine and snarled (I am not making this up), “F### you!”

I recoiled in disbelief, shook my head, and just said, “wow . . .”

Meanwhile, I noticed that Angry Man simply relaxed his face and posture and went about taking up the entire bin with his stuff, as if nothing had just transpired between us.

I finally found a place to put my bag and returned to my seat, where Angry Man was still standing. I said, “would you mind if I sat in my seat now?” He looked at his boarding pass, then up at the seat number sign and moved to 7D. As I sat down, the gentleman sitting in 7A looked over and gave me a friendly greeting, which I returned. Immediately, Angry Man looked over at me and yelled, “WHAT?!?” I pretended not to hear and continued chatting with 7A.

Soon after the flight took off, the lady in 6D put her seat back so she could get some sleep. Immediately, Angry Man began pounding (again, not making this up) on the back of her seat until she finally pushed it forward. No words were exchanged.

A few minutes later (while the Fasten Seat Belts sign was still illuminated), Angry Man got up to talk with someone in First Class. I am assuming it was his wife because the person was in the bulkhead row and he handed her a purse from the overhead bin (bulkhead passengers are not allowed anything at their feet during takeoff and landing). Upon returning to his seat he found that 6D had once again reclined her seat, so he sat down, pushed on her seat with his knees, tuned on his air vent, and pointed it right at 6D! He continued pushing on her seat even after she relented and put her seat upright, and the air remained pointed at her head.

I had finally had enough. I walked to the back of the cabin as if I was headed to the lavatory, but instead had a conversation with the flight attendant who was preparing the drink cart. I relayed the entire story and she was clearly as taken aback as I was. Unfortunately, she said there wasn’t anything she could do and she encouraged me not to engage Angry Man either. She explained that engaging the passenger could result in an incident of air rage, which would result in flight crew involvement, the possibility of an unscheduled landing, and a discussion with law enforcement once on the ground. She said that in these cases, the best way to deal with the situation is to ignore it unless it escalates. I tried to push my case, telling her that Angry Man was clearly trying to intimidate all those around him and getting away with it. She didn’t go for it.

I returned to my seat frustrated but resigned.

About an hour later Angry Man must have decided that 6D had served her penance, because he turned off the air vent that had been blowing on her head. I was also relieved that there were no further incidents of pushing, intentionally mis-aimed air vents, or profanity for the rest of the flight. We landed in Minneapolis and went our separate ways, as air travelers do. Angry Man must have felt smug in knowing that he got his own way and was able to push around his fellow travelers. I was simply left with one question: When face with a similar situation, what would a mensch do?

P.S. I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is the way that people behave when they travel. Specifically on airplanes. I found an article called How to Practice Airplane Etiquette. I hope you’ll read it and pass it along to your friends. It lays out a number of “rules” that really seem like common sense to me, but which I see broken by the majority of travelers.

One Response to “Angry Man on Flight 1074”

  1. Alan says:

    I believe it.

    I would have looked for him outside after landing and poured some sort of a sticky drink over the back of his head and then run like hell, because I not very tough.

    I do like to pay people back though.

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