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Don’t call me sweetheart MK II

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Don’t call me sweetheart MK II

Old 31st Oct 2004, 10:23
  #1 (permalink)  

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The original thread, moved here from R&N, was deleted.
It was not deleted by a CC Forum Moderator.
We thought it had grown into a thread with great merit and raised some very interesting points. It also gave rise to a balanced discussion on a very challenging subject we as CC regularly face. Flying with Minimum Required Cabin crew, how do you deal respectfully but effectively with a group of tipsy/happily disruptive men so they can enjoy their trip while not causing offence to the other pax and not creating a safety hazard.

Luckily, we have a copy of the thread as it stood about 36 hours ago. That means a number of very good posts are sadly missing, having been made after the copy was taken.
Anyway, for Jezebelle and all the other people who have mailed us directly saying they'd like the thread back; here is “Don’t call me sweetheart” MK II.
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 17:30
  #2 (permalink)  
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“Don’t call me sweetheart”

This portion of an article is of particular interest to the Aviation Industry. I would be interested to hear peoples views on the subject. Thanks Bableton.

“Don’t call me sweetheart”

This is an account of the growing problem of ‘silly girls in positions of power’. When I say ‘silly girls’, I mean females who whilst probably intelligent people cannot help but to resort to stereotypical traits of what I would define as ‘silly girl syndrome’ and loose whatever respect they have probably earned by genuine hard work.

It could also be said of men, in a similar manor, who cannot help showing inherent signs of the need for an adrenaline rush ‘Boys and their toys’, ‘The hunter / Provider issue’. My concern however is the effect on society both men and women as a result of the later phenomena being that of ‘Silly Girls In Positions Of Power’ and it is with this in mind that I would like to look closely at two industries in particular that I have had the opportunity to investigate recently, that is of the Aviation Industry and the Medical Industry or particularly NHS.

In the Airline industry the majority of Cabin Crew are women or gay men with feminine traits and upon achieving a position as cabin crew member they soon realise that their job is an extremely demanding one and a position of responsibility. Since large amounts of people look to these cabin crew members as leaders, merely because they have the local knowledge and the sheer amount of people needing to be organised safely in a strange and restricted environment, requires a leader. Thus we see the Power inherent with this position and it is this power that needs to be used with respect and discipline.

I have noticed all to often that when dealing with people especially in large numbers and quick turnover it is easy to forget that these people are individuals with opinions and concerns and also people are of varied intelligence one may be a cleaner and the next person in line a high court judge. All these people have opinions of how one should be treated and in close contact you might imagine that a comment to a Supermarket Cashier might be taken differently to a Neurosurgeon.

There is a need for people like cabin crew with this so called ‘Power’ to adopt a technique, a method of communicating with people in a manor that gives respect and allows set methods of response when that respect is not returned such that misunderstanding and confrontation may be avoided whenever possible.

Just being a leader who tells people where to sit or how to use a seatbelt doesn’t necessarily give a great deal of power, however when you consider that coupled with the fact that a confrontation with that leader could mean you are expelled from the Aircraft, miss your holiday or business engagement and in most cases loose a large sum of money. The fact that you have very little chance of defending yourself in a dispute since the Captain will always side with his crew member, his word is final putting the authorities on the side of the crew member and you know that the flight will be long gone before you even get a chance to put your case forward. The subsequent closing of ranks amongst staff, the safety issue associated with disputes on Aircraft and the current high profile of this environment render you the passenger accepting and thus giving this High Level of Power to the lets say ’19 Year Old Girl’ who possibly still has disputes with her parents over not keeping her room tidy. It would be unfair to categorise all cabin crew like this but it is this extreme situation that interests me and it is more often this or a similar type of character who when finding themselves with this Power over people fail to use it with discipline and as such many confrontations occur and the only people who suffer are the innocent passengers standing up for their principles, the airline and the other many respected hard working cabin crew members who are able to use their ability and this Power to give comfort and enjoyment to others and gain a rewarding life at work for themselves.

I would like to look at a few examples of situations that have actually occurred and explore whether or not they could have been avoided.

12 men arrive at a UK Airport for a Golf Trip, being excited and keen to enjoy themselves they as a group feel a kind of confidence and need to involve others in their joy. This consists of laughing aloud, minor use of alcohol and humorous contact with others, possibly female passengers or members of staff. These being a method of advertising their group’s enjoyment in a friendly way, needing others to either acknowledge their happy state, or in a small way partake of their humour.

When boarding the Aircraft which was ‘ticket less’ and as a group they found themselves in close proximity and near the rear of the Aircraft. It wasn’t long before these men had organised a sing song at the back of the Aircraft and whilst inappropriate and probably unacceptable to other passengers was not a cause for major concern. However certainly was something that needed addressing and a form of toning down of their merriness was needed?

This is where the need for people skills is essential to avoid a situation and had the Cabin Crew member (a young girl of about 20 years) used the correct approach this matter would have ended there and then.

However what actually happened was as follows; The Cabin Crew Member feeling that her authority was being abused; her ego at stake and needing to exercise her Power approached one of the male golfers who was sitting in an isle seat and partaking of the singing. Whilst pointing her finger strictly at the middle aged mans chest she said “If you don’t stop this behaviour, I will have you removed from this Aircraft”. This man happened to be a partner in a firm of solicitors, a wealthy family man, layer and employer and well respected business man. Faced with the fact that he knew perhaps that this girl had a genuine claim but unable to accept the disrespectful way in which he was approached decided to stand by his principles and remark upon her comments. “Fine my love, we are just having a bit of fun, but don’t you ever speak to me in that manor again. Who do you think you are talking too?”

One threat is met by another and now faced with a further attack on her authority and a slight embarrassment amongst her colleagues and other passengers the Cabin Crew Girl remarked. “I am responsible for the safety of these passengers and this aircraft and I am not expected to put up with people like you.”
This man branded as a trouble maker, categorised as a person unfit to fly with this airline and forced to engage in a verbal dispute is faced with two options; to allow this Girl her Power by apologising and thereby accepting her judgement of his character or continue to stand by his principles and say “I strongly object to your use of ‘people like you’, when you are clearly implying that I am a person of bad character this is unacceptable, of course I will stop singing but I demand an apology.”

Following a trip to the cockpit, a few tears to the Captain and a word with the Handling Agent the gentleman was removed from the Aircraft. A small attempt to defend their golf buddy left the other members of the party faced with the same dilemma. Shut up and sit down or leave the aircraft. They chose to accept that there would be no reasoning with the crew and decided to salvage what was left of their trip. Unfortunately the situation didn’t end there. Once the Aircraft was underway the other members of the golf party who whilst feeling unjustly treated and angered by the abuse of power shown by the Cabin Crew member decided to make life difficult for the rest of the Cabin Crew. At this point we should be aware that these golfers were all in-fact well respected businessmen of between 35-50 years of age and there were more than 3 millionaires amongst them.

First one would press the call button, “Can I have a drink? ” DING. “Can I have some Ice.” DING. “Can I have a Pillow?” DING. “I feel sick?” DING .. DING.. DING..

This was childish behaviour but a kind of mutiny against the crew for their earlier actions. When approaching the destination one member had a genuine call, a carton of fruit juice was leaking. Unfortunately the request for assistance was unanswered and the only option left to the gentleman was to put the carton into a Sick Bag and wipe up the mess as best he could. It was then left on the seat and everybody was pleased to commence disembarkation.

During the cleaning of the cabin a crew member came across the Sick Bag containing an apple juice of some kind and assumed is was urine. Unwilling to store it, smell it or confirm other than an arms length view and waving it around a bit, it was assumed to be urine and then disposed of with the down route agent.

A report was made by the crew and the Golf Party were accused of abusive behaviour, damaging Airline property and urinating on the seat, in the seat-back and in a Sick Bag.

The Airline decided to blacklist the members of the party as they had all booked under one payment and were easy to identify.

Upon return to the Airport two weeks later the Golf Party were informed at check-in that they would not be allowed to travel due to their behaviour on the outbound leg. There were protests and the UK press were informed but upon contacting the Airline were given the Airlines view of the situation and this became a good news item.

The men were forced to purchase tickets with another airline but could only fly to Scandinavia and not the UK, they would have to get a connecting flight. When in Scandinavia the original airline tried to contact the new carrier and persuade them not to allow these men to travel. (I wonder how they expected these men to ever return). This attempt was futile as the airline accepted them and they returned to their original point of departure. They were amazed to be met by TV cameras and questioned about urinating on aircraft seats.

What a Mess!! This was a situation that should never have arisen and could have been resolved so easily by better training within the airline. There will always be passengers acting in a manor inappropriate for airline travel after all they may feel that they are causing no harm and genuinely feel that things are acceptable. The onus in on the airline staff to inform passengers of what they consider acceptable but during this activity it is imperative that staff use the correct communication techniques when dealing with people of whom they have no knowledge of the views, opinions or principles.

I believe that had the first comment been “Sir, unfortunately we cannot allow singing on the aircraft as we have to be able to perform a demonstration shortly and at all times need to be able to communicate with other crew and passengers in a calm environment. I’m sorry but I’m sure you understand”.

This most certainly would have ended this particular situation but others may not be so easy to diffuse. A method of ascertaining a level of tolerance requires skill and intelligence this should be available in Cabin Crew members but are immature Girls capable of handling this Power?
Old 6th Nov 2004, 18:46
  #3 (permalink)  
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Considering that these men are supposeed to be business men, and between the ages of 35 - 50, i think they are the ones who should have known how to behave respectfully on board an aircraft. The girl was only doing her job, whilst young, and a group of men singing can be very intimidating, she used her powers to the full. The men were in the wrong not her. To follow on during the flight delkiberatley trying to annoy the cabin crew, well that just shows the level of maturity of the men
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 18:54
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These guys travelling on the airline i work for (out of Bristol I believe) deserved all they got by the sounds of it. The way in which cabin crew get treated on a daily basis is nothing short of disgusting at times and these people can think themselves lucky they were not prosecuted.
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 19:05
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12 men arrive at a UK Airport for a Golf Trip, being excited and keen to enjoy themselves they as a group feel a kind of confidence and need to involve others in their joy. This consists of laughing aloud, minor use of alcohol and humorous contact with others
Are you sure this was a "minor" use of alcohol?

And is it really "humorous contact with others" if the other passengers complain about it?

Besides, if the plane has to ditch in the ocean, or has an engine fire, will these chaps continue to harass the crew?
inappropriate and probably unacceptable to other passengers
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 19:26
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What you really mean is:

A group of pi$$ed men on a 'boys outing' to play golf, started annoying the rest of the passengers and the cabin crew, wouldn't shut up when asked and thought that, because they were rich businessmen (including 3 millionaires), somehow different rules applied to them. The ringleader was slung off the flight; the rest decided to make life as hard as they could for the cabin crew during the rest of the flight. One thought it would be funny to pretend that he'd urinated in a fruit juice carton.

Stupid buggers. Deserved all they got and I have no sympathy whatsoever for them.
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 19:29
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The article implies explicitly that the tears from the cabin crew member were the reason for the man's deplaning.

Now that's just not true, is it?

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Old 6th Nov 2004, 19:52
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it does not make any difference if one is a millionaire or a ragpicker. As you board the aircraft, you have to behave properly. If they are 'respected businessmen', they should know how to do so.

You requested it and that's all I have to say about your gibberish.

IMHO great airline and staff, that is that consequent to remove that guy and put the rest on the blacklist.

Let me know which one it was!

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Old 6th Nov 2004, 20:05
  #9 (permalink)  
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In an emergency...

The aircraft is on fire, you've broken your leg and you're blocking the overwing!

How is your university education, or your million in the bank, or your porsche in the car park going to get you out of that aeroplane!!

Merchant Bankers should know their limitations!!
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 20:14
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I didn't write this!!!!!!!!!

I found it at my local flying club Forum.

Just interested in views coz this really does make a statement.

I personally can see both sides of the argument but as an FO i believe in ZERO tolerance!!!!!
Old 6th Nov 2004, 20:37
  #11 (permalink)  

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It would be interesting to read the whole article that you quote, I have to say that I agree with the general thrust of it, whilst disagreeing with the female/male distinction. Saying that, similar problems can arise with male/female interactions whichever is in the position of authority, we are just better at "reading" signals from our own sex. I find it much easier to calm down an irate man than a woman.

In conflict (using the word in its loosest sense) there should be an gradual escalation, and you should always leave a way out that saves "face" for the other side. Also it should be kept in mind the end result that you want, and an open mind should be kept about how you get there.

Just from a body language point of view, if someone is standing and you are sitting, you immediatley feel on the defensive, and a certain amount of fear, which can raise the tension.

In the situation above a potential solution would be to involve another (imaginary) passenger.

CC: Gentleman, wonder if you could help me out, we have a nervous passenger aboard an your singing is making her uncomfortable, could you stop so that we can get on with the safety briefing and get her and the rest of the passengers off on holiday as soon as possible?

You are taking advantage of the typical male reaction to want to help woman in distress, getting in a mention of the primary purpose of the CC (safety) and reminding them that this is not the holiday but the means of getting there. Once you have got their agreement, they would need a reminder that you and the rest of the crew are the ones in a position of authority.

perhaps (slightly jokey manner) CC: because I'd hate to have to throw you off the aircraft!

If they continue (unlikely), because of the previous conversation you have established yourself as the one in authority, and they have accepted it, so you can be very firm and they will accept that they have been warned previously and so should have been on much better behaviour.

Everyone has seen this sort of thing in action, the person who can control seemingly any situation, the trick is to find what works for you, and know where your strengths lie, it is the result that matters.
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 20:39
  #12 (permalink)  
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On another note, I believe this article was written following statements from the 'Golfers'.

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who knows the Aircrews side of the story??

Bableton (Opener of Big Can of Worms!)

Paul Wilson

I agree, what an excellent approach to a real problem. If all crew use your approach I find it hard to see how any situation like the above could arise.

I'm sure this kind of issue is something that Cabin Crew should be skilled in dealing with. As an FO I don't get to see much of these kind of problems but it's interesting because on a few occations when I've noticed a conflict, if I approach the passenger their attitude changes immediately.

It's almost as if they have more respect for flight deck. This is unacceptable but something we have to deal with.

Old 6th Nov 2004, 20:54
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Ok, before everyone starts looking up my profile I will make it obvious who I am, I'm not cabin crew, I am a PPL that wandered into this forum, I fly very regularly commercially and know enough about business men of this calibre.

Ok, they were all out to have a bit of fun and yes it is likely that they were slightly rowdy but as far as I am concerned they were not at this point in time affecting the safety of the aircraft. The measure of response by the cabin crew should correlate directly with the level of the offence, which is suffice to say, minor. The following is completely ridiculous:

"Whilst pointing her finger strictly at the middle aged mans chest she said “If you don’t stop this behaviour, I will have you removed from this Aircraft”."

This man is obviously intelligent and I am sure if presented with a simple, polite and coherent case would have yielded an apology. Think about any other profitable business, do you think they'd survive very long if they treated their customers like this. They're not just slf, they do pay for the priveliege to fly.

In short:
1) Measured action to measurable offence
2) Good PR skills are the absolute core of any successful business.

One last thought, why do you judge the charactar of a person by the amount they have in the bank? They might have made that by being a tremendously nice person, thereby creating a solid network of contacts. If the same had happened to bunch of lads going to Ibiza then you can be sure that they would have been a lot more direct than "DING. “Can I have a Pillow?”"
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 20:59
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Excellent article...excellent.
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 21:13
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Unfortunately this is all too easy to visualise happening exactly as described, despite the frenetic denials seen here that such power-drunk behaviour could EVER be exhibited by one of our "brethren in the back".

It's a measure of the validity of the account that you get the responses here that you did, bableton. But is this story fundamentally any different to the experience the same passengers AND CREW go through at security? Of course not.

Some big fat police-academy reject rent-a-cop digs through hand-baggage (after it's been x-rayed) on the pretence that she saw something of a "security risk" whilst displaying a brusque, haughty attitude and NO manners or sympathy whatsoever but this time the bag belongs to the same puffed-up, mouthy 20yo cabin crew. NOW what does she think of authority, being as it's in the hands of some OTHER pain in the @rse and used AGAINST her?

Every tried talking back to these security neanderthals? Feel like a cavity search, followed by loss of job, do you?

Maybe the crew in Bableton's rendition of events had just been through this very security experience and was bent on seeing that someone, anyone, paid for her indignity.

The account of crew power-madness, whilst not the rule, is nonetheless totally valid in many cases but of course no one here is prepared to admit it, even after excessive preparatory blowing of "sunshine up @rses", to paraphrase Top Gun, at the beginning of the account. The very essence of the fragile self-image of cabin crew is at stake here and this tale is an attack upon it. What did you expect?
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 21:20
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Very interesting article.If indeed their behavior was "playful" the crew and their airline behaved very badly.BUT Aviation has changed and passengers must know and accept this.Pre 911,customer service had been on a downward slope for about 15 years.Post 911,if you ask too many questions or look at somebody the wrong way,you'll be carted off.
Flight attendants are much older stateside and knowing how to difffuse a situation with a smile or an ironic putdown is an art.Some FA's hate the job and hate the folks and it shows.If she was truly nineteen and was the lead FA,then something is wrong and it needs to be invetsigated perhaps by the CAA.
Someone said as an FO,they had zero tolerance of passengers.Should be the other way round.Once upon a time,the crew always accomodated the passengers.A " good day sir" when boarding,a smile,help with luggage,friendly and polite when serving food and drinks.But now,thats all gone.I still see a bit of it in Southwest and airlines like Singapore and Thai have nice service but you have to pay through the teeth for it.Maybe its the gene pool or this generation X. WWI diluted your gene pool considerably and we've got radicals and slackers to contend with.
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Old 6th Nov 2004, 21:40
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I’m not going to put the rest of the Article on this forum because it is not all about aviation, however it's interesting that this situation is compared to the power trip shown all too often at the security desk.

The article did go on to talk about Nurses on NHS wards and one in particular who always called patients’ darling or sweetheart. She was approached by the author and asked; “Why am I nil by mouth today sweetheart? I have no operation.”

She went crazy saying “Don't call me sweetheart” and demanded an apology.

There is a definite issue with abuse of power. I don't want to see it appearing on my Aircraft, and as I support my Cabin Crew 100%, it would be nice to know that they all possess the necessary people skills to deal with our clients.
Old 7th Nov 2004, 01:48
  #18 (permalink)  
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12 men arrive at a UK Airport for a Golf Trip, being excited and keen to enjoy themselves they as a group feel a kind of confidence and need to involve others in their joy. This consists of laughing aloud, minor use of alcohol and humorous contact with others, possibly female passengers
it is easy to forget that these people are individuals with opinions and concerns and also people are of varied intelligence one may be a cleaner and the next person in line a high court judge. All these people have opinions of how one should be treated and in close contact you might imagine that a comment to a Supermarket Cashier might be taken differently to a Neurosurgeon.
Well, these well-respected businessmen were clearly showing no respect for their fellow passengers. Apparently it was fine by them to harass female passengers, regardless of whether their fellow passengers were high court judges or neurosurgeons. In the U.S., they have every right to kick off a drunk or disruptive passenger.

BTW, I am not cabin crew, but have flown as a passenger often enough that I don't want to get stuck next to a bunch of rowdy drunks.

Didn't the millionaires in the group have enough money to rent a private jet or boat? It's not as if they'd be stuck in Scandinavia forever.

The men were forced to purchase tickets with another airline but could only fly to Scandinavia and not the UK, they would have to get a connecting flight. When in Scandinavia the original airline tried to contact the new carrier and persuade them not to allow these men to travel. (I wonder how they expected these men to ever return
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Old 7th Nov 2004, 05:32
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I think we need to keep the following in mind here:

It would be unfair to categorise all cabin crew like this but it is this extreme situation that interests me
This is an extreme situation detailed in the account and let's face it, the whole situation could have been handled better had the CC not been quite so agressive. Perhaps the intimidation brought this out in her. If the lawyer had not tried to be superior in the way he spoke and patronise the CC.

An unfortunate chain of events but the main point he is trying to make is the 1st one of the way the PAX were addressed. From the way the article is written it appears to be harsh. How accurate all the facts are we don't know.
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Old 7th Nov 2004, 07:13
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My first reaction to this thread was ‘gosh, what a lot of words!' bit then I realized that it had a certain relevance to me.

On my last commute to the US, I had made a polite request / query that wine would be available prior to the meal. I was assured it would. (Meal? Ha! If I had downed the cardboard menu with a glass of Jet A1, it would have been tastier. [ But the seat pitch is the only one that contains my largeness.] ). Halfway through the meal, a male flight attendant stopped just short of me and discussed the state of the nation–quoting the entire Gettysburg address and the constitution; amendments in abundance. Finally, with one microscopic sample left on my plastic dish, he asked me what I would like to drink. ‘White wine please' I said, dryly. (Pause for groan) He plonked...yes, plonked the bottle onto my tray and went back, literally and physically, to the historic part of the creation of the 13 states. It was then that I had the temerity to take my own glass. "DON'T REACH!!!!!!!' Then he paid me the first real attention of the flight.

"I think you're showing aggression. You're an aggressive type of person."

These were the words he used, but what he was really saying was, "you just keep that expression up and I'll show you what power I've got." I had images of all of the crew jumping on me and chaining me just south of the pressure bulk-head. A lot or red warning lights were flashing. I could see the headlines. "Pilot arrested for REACHING at 80,000 feet." (Factored for press measurements) Shock horror. I remained very composed and managed to say quietly that I was a retired captain, 40 years in the business, and as an OAP, hardly a threat to the flight. ‘You should know better then.' he said, departing with a hi-g flounce.

It really happened...well more or less, but so did the bruises to my girls, administered by Scotch-soaked roustabouts, who for some reason got pleasure in crushing the buttocks of these poor kids with hands honed to bend steel pipe. Then there was the businessman who left the aircraft with bruised shins; he had made the mistake of annoying our queen bee. As he walked across the tarmac his pain was palpable. Then, quite recently one of our girls was pulled...no, wrenched from the flight deck by a passenger who thought that she had spent too much time chatting to the crew. Then there's the stories of just what nastiness can be put into a meal if a passenger is annoying enough. You get the point, a lot of tits for a lot of tats.

It takes a lot of skill and maturity to handle ‘the public.' Flying the aircraft is the easy bit. The
SLF pay your wages, but they must maintain certain standards. After all, their fellow passengers may be going to a funeral, the odds are that they will not want to join into a sing-song...well not unless they have just inherited a fortune. At least three millionaires? Well, they may just buy more seats-miles on average, but there are times that, as a passenger, I just don't want to sing, or laugh, or even smile benignly: I am pleased if they are happy, it's good for trade, but I don't what their happiness spilling all over me. They, and their poorer friends, need to be told firmly to behave as airline passengers, and have it explained, they have become for an hour or so, a very specific breed of traveler; one who is expected to take part in the overall effort to make the aircraft reach its destination safely. But what's the point? The odds are that not one of the choir will have even read the safety briefing.
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