An American Airlines flight was forced to turn around early after a “disruptive” passenger called a flight attendant “waiter.” The flight, which was traveling from New York City to Georgetown, Guyana, was diverted back to New York City just two hours after takeoff.
The Passenger Claims the Airlines’ Characterization of the Incident is Incorrect
The passenger, Joel Ghansham, denies the airline’s initial characterization of the incident, claiming that he was not disruptive. Ghansham says that he asked a flight attendant for help with putting his bag in the overhead storage compartment because he had recently undergone spinal surgery.
“He said, ‘No, I don’t do that,'” Ghansham told The New York Post. “He said, ‘I don’t get paid that kind of money but if you don’t like it there is always another airline.'”
Later in the flight, the same flight attendant attempted to serve Ghansham during the beverage service.
“He asked me if I wanted something to drink but I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to cause a scene, and he asked again and I said, ‘No thank you, waiter,'” Ghansham added.
This sparked a verbal altercation between the two. The flight attendant reportedly took offense to the remark and said that he had the power to turn the plane around. Ghansham says that he retorted with “you must be God, so you do it.”
American Airlines has since reportedly apologized to Ghansham and offered 10,000 miles to passengers who had their flight disrupted.
This has been Happening Since the Pandemic
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, flight attendants have reported an increase in rude and disruptive passengers on flights. A recent survey by the Association of Flight Attendants found that 85% of flight attendants have had to deal with unruly passengers in the past year.
Additionally, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also seen a surge in reports of disruptive passengers. In 2021, the FAA received over 5,900 reports of such passengers, which is more than double the number of reports received in 2020.
Moreover, there are many factors that may be contributing to the increase of such incidents on flights. One factor was the stress of the pandemic. Many people were feeling anxious and frustrated, and this can lead to outbursts of anger. Another factor is the increased consumption of alcohol by passengers. The FAA has reported a 60% increase in alcohol-related incidents on flights since 2021.
What Passengers Can Do to Help
Passengers should respect flight attendants and other passengers and follow the instructions of the cabin crew. They should also avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
In addition, if you see a passenger who is misbehaving, it is important to report it to the flight attendant immediately and don’t get involved. Flight attendants are trained to deal with rude passengers and they will be able to take appropriate action.
Airlines and Flight Attendants’ Response
Airlines are taking a number of steps to address the problem. Some airlines have increased the number of flight attendants on flights,while others have implemented stricter alcohol policies.
The FAA has also proposed a number of new regulations to address the problem, including increasing the maximum fines for disruptive passengers. Besides, it established a passenger hotline where passengers can report misbehaviors. The hotline number is 1-800-FAA-HELP (1-800-322-4357).