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Here at TravelPulse, we call them 'naughty passengers,' and we have a whole list of folks who have caused upheaval on an airplane.
These stories used to be fairly benign. Somebody trying to sneak a smoke on the plane, perhaps. A couple joining the Mile High Club in the restroom. An argument over reclining seats, maybe. But 'naughty' might be a misnomer now. 'Naughty' suggests something almost glib, something we might even chuckle over.
But this phenomenon is no laughing matter anymore.
Now, just like the polarized, divisive country we've become, disruptive passengers are nasty, combative, belligerent and have even resorted to physical assault.
So when Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian sent his employees a memo outlining a plan to place a permanent ban on unruly passengers, my first thought was not about whether it was legal - it is - or whether it was moral or whether it was ethical or whether it was even a smart thing to attempt.
My first thought was…Yup. It's the only deterrent that's going to get through to some of these people. In fact, if Bastian goes ahead with his plan, I would urge him to share any information on banned passengers with other airlines to prevent travelers from simply using another carrier.
Is that extreme? Maybe. But the situation has become extreme.
Some of these people are like petulant children, and what's the best way to take care of petulant children? You take away what they love the most, like their phone, or video games or, you know, the right to fly. Something that will make them appreciate what they had by losing it. Or in the case of adults, hit them where it hurts the most - in the wallet. Imagine living in Atlanta or Detroit, hub cities for Delta, and not being to fly on Delta? Good luck with that when the airlines get back to normal in a year or so.
Flying is not a right, it's a privilege. And just like any other business, you must abide by their rules. See, that's the misconception people have, especially - as I've said before in print - the "I don't have to wear a face mask, you're violating my personal freedoms and civil liberties!!" crowd.
Um, Karen? Yes. Yes, you do have to wear a mask on a plane, and at the grocery store, and 7/11, and Macy's and the bowling alley.
See, going into a place of business is like owning a home. I highly doubt you, as a homeowner, are going to allow someone to come into your residence and not abide by your rules, right? I think we can safely assume you're not going to allow guests of any kind to waltz in, start moving furniture around, walk around in muddy shoes or discipline your kids. Well, it's the same with any place of business.
A store, whether it's a small bodega or a Walmart SuperStore, is its own entity. Contrary to your beliefs, they can make their own rules. Sort of like 'No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.'
A business owner gives you, the consumer, tacit approval to enter its brick-and-mortar structure for the purpose of conducting commerce. If they say you can't wear blue, well, sorry, you can't wear blue. If they say you can't have blonde hair, well, sorry, you can't have blonde hair.
Those are outrageous examples, of course. But asking somebody to behave themselves on an airplane isn't so outrageous. Bastian used phrases like 'respect' and 'basic civility.' Really, is that too much to ask for?
"Those who refuse to display basic civility to our people or their fellow travelers are not welcome on Delta," he wrote. "Their actions will not be tolerated, and they will not have the privilege of flying our airline ever again."
And don't think it's just going to be Delta. As we have seen throughout history, aviation and the airlines can oftentimes piggyback off one another. There's no doubt in my mind the other U.S. carriers will come back with a similar policy.
So I say 'bravo' to Bastian and Delta. If a passenger is going to act like an idiot, expect to be treated like one.
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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