I was working Business Class to Europe; in the bulkhead of the Coach cabin on my side there was an Indian family taking photos of their kids. I had already noted them, chatted with them, and was not alarmed in the slightest. However, my colleague working the opposite aisle went and demanded they stop taking photos. She then came up to me proudly pointing out her work. She went back to her area. I went to the nice family, explained that she had misunderstood what they were actually photographing, and reviewed the guidelines for good measure.
She became belligerent; I calmly stated the actual rule, that the family was not breaking it (passengers are not allowed to take any images with professional grade – i.e. TV cameraman-quality – cameras). She almost yelled, “I just came back from [yearly re-training] and we covered this specifically. You are WRONG.” A few flight attendants joined the debate but no one choose sides really. For the moment I asserted that I’d already assessed the situation differently and since no one else on the crew was alarmed, it was my area, my call.
I suggested we could look at the policy in the manual together to discuss as soon as we had a moment. When the manual did exactly follow my wording, she got angry and pushed me – still claiming she was right. I removed myself from the situation and we then avoided each other. (She now forgets why we know each other and thinks were friends. Go figure. I haven’t reminder her.)
This relates to your story merely to say that, firstly, we do misunderstand policies sometimes and that may be our fault, or it may be the way something was presented to us in a training module. Who knows – perhaps my colleague’s instructor had it wrong. Of course some flight attendants are generally more paranoid, and they are just damn certain they are right, like they have some sort of identity-crisis hinging on that fact. It’s just a type of person. Heaven help anyone who comes against them.
The T-Word, etc.
We don’t know if Mr. Klint’s flight attendant was that type, but using the T-word was definitely a foul. That needs to be said because it would behoove every passenger to remember that. You might think it’s “not using common sense” for us to take umbrage but there are all sorts passengers who think it’s funny to toss out these emotive words. They employ them in all sorts of purposeful, veiled, slippery, passive-aggressive or taunting ways.
I do not think Mr. Klint was consciously doing that, but people should understand why it’s sound policy not to indulge them. So just for the future, like it or not, please everyone just avoid those words. You know what they are. That’s where your own common sense can help out. Mr. Klint should not have been aggressed in the manner he was, much less thrown off the plane, but the t-word tip should be tucked in every traveler’s back pocket for reference.
As for the pilot, they usually fall into two categories: those that back their crew and those that don’t. With the pressures to get out on schedule there’s rarely time for nuanced investigation so, simply, it needs to be one or the other. The first kind is good thing. Not knowing any more about him, his reasoning, his relationship with his crew or even that particular flight attendant – and of course, what he was told – I can’t blame him.
Assuming your account is accurate, it just comes down on the flight attendant. All I can say is, I’m sorry you got one of those.
Update: You’ll see on Matthew’s blog that he has found resolution with United. I’m happy to see that. It’s also good for everyone to know that crews do have the power to throw people off but we can’t wield that blithely. This is exactly what happens if we do, and why you thankfully don’t see it often.