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Crew refuses to take off due to "hostile work environment"

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Crew refuses to take off due to "hostile work environment"

Old 10th Jul 2008, 05:57
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As "self loading freight" I have many times missed connecting flights due to situations such as this. The whole idea of traveling by a commercial airline is actually stressful because of the usual delays that occur...

Ask yourself this, why did a mob mentality develop?

Perhaps people have had enough of being treated as mere Self Loading Freight?
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 08:05
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Seems a little harsh to condem the FD without knowing the full reasons behind the cancellation.

Possibly it was the CC who decided they would not be locked inside an aluminum tube with xx unruly and abusive passengers. I would imagine that finding a replacement crew after the reasons for the original crew declining would be a tad difficult. There is no authority of the Captain anymore to order the crew to operate a flight if they deem it to be 'unsafe'.

All too often, with the locked cockpit door policy, we forget the situations that the CC are sometimes (and luckily very rarely) called upon to placate.

Personally I can't wait to find out the reasons behind the decision. Should make for an interesting read.
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 08:28
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Ok we do not know the full circumstances of this case but let's say the crew had decided to depart and there was an incident or accident which was partly attributable to passenger unruliness then what would the view be?

If pax are not behaving reasonably will they be paying attention to the safety briefing, for example? Might their actions impede exit in the event of an emergency evacuation. Passengers are required to obey all lawful commands - if they are reluctant to "tow the line" before they get on the a/c what will they be like once the doors are closed?

Yes I agree that as professionals it is within out remit to calm the waters and actions like going on the PA at the gate to explain the REAL reasons for delay are part of our job but it's also up to airline managements to be more proactive in keeping the customers fully informed.
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 08:43
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It's all about timely, accurate communication stupid

The bottom line is that people who are left in a information vacuum, lied to or deliberately mislead will react accordingly. Airlines have cut to the point that the people on the ground are uninformed or incapable of providing accurate timely information as to what is happening, as there are too few people, too much work and not enough time. As a result, passengers are fobbed off with meaningless drivel and lies. The industry has to take some responsibility for the consequences of it's actions. Passengers are behaving badly, I have witnessed it many times and I am not defending their actions. But I have seen many occassions when an aircraft has gone tech, the airline has no clue how they are going to solve the problem, so put an hours delay on the board. When that hour is up, they put another hour on, and so on. I was once kept dangling like this for over 9 hours in Milan and then at 11.45pm told the flight was cancelled. At that hour, there were no staff around to tell people what would be happening and this compounded the problem. This approach denies passengers the necessary information to make an informed decision and to solve their own problems. Had I known the delay could be up to 9 hours, I could have made the decision early on to cancel my trip, arrange to stay overnight, and re-book a later departure. I have been lied to many times and it reaches the point where trust has broken down and you no longer believe what the airline is telling you, even when they are telling the truth. To get respect, you have to give it. There is a lack of respect all around within the industry, and attitudes such as "you pay peanuts, you get monkeys", "what do you expect", "do you know how little we are paid" contribute nothing and exacerbate an already difficult situation.
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 08:48
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Is it not a little worrying that the travelling public are so gullible that they would even believe it was true when told "the crew wanted more sleep" or somesuch??

It's probably a fair bet that most of them actually have jobs so they have the money to actually buy the ticket ...... so do they often turn up late for work because they "wanted more sleep" .....



As has been said ..... pax should be kept informed and truthfully.... that also means if it's an indefinate delay making sure that's what folks are told.

If the departue is based on estimates or firmer times based on an actual movements then that surely should be made clear.

Of course being in a position to provide that depth of detail means having staff in position to talk to the pax.

If it's a handling agent then the airline needs to porperly manage them.

Sadly it seems the drive to reduce costs mean that this is often no longer the case for either option.


I've often seen handling agents leaving pax with the impression that a "next info ..." is actually an ETD ...... even when it simply means that's the next time the previous station will update them.

In my view if it's the airline's own gate agents etc then it should be able to properly control the information flow and accuracy and shouldn't tolerate gate agents being sloppy with information.

But I really do struggle to see how any intelligent person working in passenger services would not only know that such an explanation was plain daft but would also know exactly what effect it would have if passed on "verbatim" to the pax.....
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 16:56
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Communication skills?

Too often I've seen the Captain abdicate his/her position as the coordinator of information. In the States, the gate agent (usually the focus of passenger complaints and assorted ire.) receives very little information as to the cause of flight delays.

Many times I've had fellow crewmembers transit the ticket counter and hide in the cockpit to escape the passenger's questions. "Not my job...I don't get paid enough to do that!"

Some crewmembers even behave as if they're perversely enjoying the delays and that only convinces our passengers that we are enjoying their misery.

The best way I've found to diffuse incendiary situations on the ground is to:

!. Validate their feelings - "I understand how you feel..." - this demonstrates that their message has been communicated and received.

2. Establish rapport - "The same thing happened to me once..." - This helps the passenger to listen rather than demand.

3. Explain your point of view - "But this is what I've found..."

This is best remembered as the "Feel, Felt, Found" system. I've used it many times and in many different situations and it works well.

Another thing I've learned (from a US street cop) is that when speaking with a combative passenger is to thoughtfully hold my chin with my hand (to block possible punches to the face if a passenger escalates the confrontation). That combined with a "breakaway tie" helps me to maintain a safe distance.

On one memorable flight (at a Part 121 Supplemental airline) we were waiting for our inbound flight from Las Vegas when they weather diverted to an airport 300 miles (480 km) away. We were the only relief crew in that time zone (the other crew had duty timed out) and we were unable to fly to the diversion airport so we rented a car and drove to meet the plane and rescue the passengers. They were angry...rightfully so, and I agreed with them, they had every right to be angry, we screwed up and they got bad service!

But I did explain what we were doing to make it right and that the situation was caused by the fog (however, I left out the part about our lazy dispatchers not looking for closer alternates).

In fact, when we arrived back at the destination airport we were cheered by the passengers who watched us leave and drive 6 hours to get the airplane and fly them to Florida. The point was, sometimes you just need to look like you're making an effort! That makes all the difference in the world to the "peeps".

I still think communication is the hardest skill to teach to a Captain upgrade.

Doodah
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 17:44
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taking about communicating

At Amsterdam Schiphol, when collecting your luggage, the display now shows:

Flight number and origin
1 Luggage being unloaded from the plane, or
2 Luggage all unloaded from the plane, or
3 Luggage expected at this belt at ..:.. (time), or
4 All luggage now on the belt

It s called information...... It s what s needed.... timely accurate and honest information

Gone is the stress, back are the smiles
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 17:50
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100% of the passengers I've kicked off of flights have been flying to, or out of, NYC. None out of other city pairs. Zero. Hmmm, what's the common link?

It's a weekend. Holiday weekend. Flights late. Folks drink. Sometimes it's part of the problem, sometimes it isn't. We weren't there, we don't know.

We do have the testimony of other passengers that some of the passengers got out of hand.

I love the 'just make nice PA's' and it will be better. I'll try and remember that next time I see video of riots at soccer matches - "oh, if they'd only make nice PA's and explain themselves everything would be better."

Last edited by misd-agin; 10th Jul 2008 at 17:53. Reason: spelling
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 18:42
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Late Departures

Blaming ATC always worked for me.

Actually it didn't. Usually the PA was immediately followed by a call from down below from the Chief Purser, relaying a message from an Air Traffic Controller passenger to the effect that the team of men in the process of attempting to dismantle/rebuild #3 engine on the tarmac were probably not ATC, and forcefully promising extended scenic tours of his neighbourhood should I ever attempt to approach his airfield.

Sorry Chaps, Have done it a few times, caught at it most times, but as was told to me by the Ancient Aviator `That's why they have a Tower---It's like a castle, they can barricade the stairs against the ravening hordes of annoyed SLF---beats the flight deck door'

F88
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 18:50
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East Coasters??

It is true that I've had more behavior problems with passengers from the Northeastern parts of the USA (NYC, Philly and Boston). One schizophrenic gentleman on a Syracuse flight comes to mind. They can be a challenge.

However, I've had more drunks flying out of Las Vegas and Reno. But my favorite episode occurred in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Prior to boarding our ticket plucker (puller) FA came into the cockpit to explain that we had a possible "overserved" passenger in the boarding area. He told us he was going to board him last and explain to him that if he didn't behave himself he was going to miss his flight.

Later on our FA came onboard laughing to himself and he told us that when the "last" passenger walked up and said,"What the hell's goin' on?? Why the f--k am I the last to board!?", our FA just said,"Buddy, you just said the wrong thing." and called security to send escort him out of the boarding area.

doodah
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 20:40
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misd-agin:

You really don't get it.........

I love the ' just make nice PA's' and it will be better. I'll try to remember that next time I see a video of riots at a soccer match - ''Oh, if they'd only make nice PA's and explain themselves everything would be better''

It is of no use whatsoever to expect to placate and reassure a crowd of angry passengers from the sanctuary of the flight deck via the PA. They need the man in charge to be visible and in control of the situation, namely a leader. Any Captain who is not prepared to 'face the mob', own the problem and deal with it is not worth the 4 bars on his arm. The rioting crowd usually have a reason for the way they are. They can be calmed by an acknowledgement of their situation and a pledge to try to put it right. Put your face on the solution and they will always be with you.

I do get the impression that in the good ole USA you see the passenger as your enemy, not the person paying your salary. Just put yourself in their position. Do you want lame and anonymous excuses over the PA or a real and visible 'saviour' on the day? Your role as a Captain should encompass all aspects of the operation, not just flying the metal from A to B. Seeing the passenger as your friend might be a good start.
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Old 10th Jul 2008, 21:03
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Personally, Iíve never heard an operating crew booed and find it quite hard to believe this is anything but an unfortunate and rare incident.
Personally, when arriving late, and personally, hearing smart-arse hostie NN say witheringly in hearing of the rear rows "What kept yew?" is personally something I found funny. "Don't like your attitude." Personally heard that too from the occasional stuffed shirt sheriff. ". .. . .. . the long, the short and the tall. . .. "

To pull off a greaser and hear concerted clapping from aft is occasion enough to pick up the phone and say "Don't clap, please. Just throw money."



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Old 11th Jul 2008, 01:20
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MIA Pax have a reputation for being a notoriously obnoxious bunch quite often. The FA's try to avoid the experience.
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 02:12
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777fly

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misd-agin:

You really don't get it.........

I love the ' just make nice PA's' and it will be better. I'll try to remember that next time I see a video of riots at a soccer match - ''Oh, if they'd only make nice PA's and explain themselves everything would be better''

It is of no use whatsoever to expect to placate and reassure a crowd of angry passengers from the sanctuary of the flight deck via the PA. They need the man in charge to be visible and in control of the situation, namely a leader. Any Captain who is not prepared to 'face the mob', own the problem and deal with it is not worth the 4 bars on his arm. The rioting crowd usually have a reason for the way they are. They can be calmed by an acknowledgement of their situation and a pledge to try to put it right. Put your face on the solution and they will always be with you.

I do get the impression that in the good ole USA you see the passenger as your enemy, not the person paying your salary. Just put yourself in their position. Do you want lame and anonymous excuses over the PA or a real and visible 'saviour' on the day? Your role as a Captain should encompass all aspects of the operation, not just flying the metal from A to B. Seeing the passenger as your friend might be a good start.


777,

I don't hide from the passengers. Matter of fact I routinuely head to the gate to assist the agents because I know what's going on, while they sometimes don't understand the actual, or technical reasons, for any delays. I'm standing at the gate counter and a husband and wife approach me. I ask if I can help. Husband starts to berate me without getting to what I can do to help. I ask again, what can I do to help? He starts off again. I look at wife. She realizes I'll try to help if perhaps given the chance. She takes up my position and starts telling husband - stop, give him a chance to help. Not being an agent the amount of information I have access to via the computer is limited but I eventually send them on their way at a lower stress level. I'm glad the wife stepped in, because I was about to politely tell the husband I wasn't there to take abuse from him but was willing to help...until he went to far.

Sadly, passengers often give me, or pilots in general, a lot more credit than agents and feel comfortable giving agents a ration of grief. So off to the gate I go. I'm pretty calm, even handed and most folks sense that.

Some folks, despite the best efforts, "self select themselves to be removed". That's a term I use in briefing my crews. When passengers get removed from my flight I'm usually the one that tells them. Face to face. The people who can't get a clue(U.S. slang about realizing the situation they are in) get removed and life for everyone else is better.

777-"They can be calmed by an acknowledgement of their situation and a pledge to try to put it right. Put your face on the solution and they will always be with you."

"There you go again"(famous U.S. quote). Sorry, some people are idiots, *ssh*les, drunks, you name it. Nothing you say or do can solve their problems.

777-"I do get the impression that in the good ole USA you see the passenger as your enemy, not the person paying your salary. Just put yourself in their position. Do you want lame and anonymous excuses over the PA or a real and visible 'saviour' on the day? Your role as a Captain should encompass all aspects of the operation, not just flying the metal from A to B. Seeing the passenger as your friend might be a good start."

Some of the folks in the industry do have problems dealing with passengers. Why they stay in the business is beyond me.

I don't hide and don't pass the buck. Unfortunately somedays there is no 'savior'. You won't catch me trying to hide from the folks on that day, especially with a NY crowd that thinks they can take it out on the F/A's or agents.

Next time I read about a brawl, drunken behavior, or similar problems on a non U.S. carrier I hope you chime in with "if only a leader had stepped up."
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 03:34
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Many non-pilots would love to walk out of their workplace citing "hostile envirnment".
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 03:40
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'Hostile work environment' has a legal connotation in U.S. employment law, see:

Hostile work environment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fortunately, there tend to be plenty of attorneys on the MIA-LGA sector.
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 04:54
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In my experience as one of the poor sods stuck the wrong side of the flight deck door, Customers are less hostile when they have information, and the correct information at that. Whether it be a broken lightbulb in the exit lighting or a tragic road traffic accident.

So so many ground staff feel/think that less information is more and by saying "its delayed" and running off will give them the least hassle rather than saying "your flight is delayed due to the operating crew being delayed on their last flight" or your flight is delayed due to technical difficulties, and to ensure your safety we are arranging an alternative option, this will mean your departure is approximately XX:XX"

I know when i've operated ex-UK and had UK handling agents who have given the customers the correct information vs the inbound customers who know jack S**T because (usually IBERIA) have F****D off i've had less hassle from the outbound customers.

INFORMATION is the key.

But jeering and rude behaviour regardless of reason, is not acceptable.
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 05:12
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The Captain and crew were 100% correct in refusing the flight. Given a hostile mob environment, the Captain would have been negligent in the extreme and in clear violation of the FARs to allow them on-board the aircraft.

This kind of crap continues because it is too often tolerated. There needs to be a highly visible crack-down on the louts, drunks, and yobos and those people, at the airline's discretion should be placed on a government sanctioned DO NOT FLY list.

Let's see how the jerks like taking the bus and the rest of us can see how pleasant it is to not have those creeps around.
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 06:27
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'Hostile work environment' has a legal connotation in U.S. employment law, see:

Hostile work environment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or, in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, political affiliation, citizenship status, marital status, or personal appearance,
This does not seem to apply.
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 09:24
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Wobbleplank,

Thanks for the reply, thats reasonable and I should have made the connection of missed slot myself, as you can imagine, the way it was said by the CC didnt lead me to make the link.

As you said, shame the anouncement didnt add the bit about the tech-glitch delay causing the TO slot to be missed etc. It would have totally avoided the negative feeling.

I think that with people flying more and more these days, airlines can no longer just give out any old excuse and expect their customers to accept it, because they may actually have an inkling as to what "may" have happened from past experience....(even if that may be wrong).

Regards, SD..
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