• Confessions of an unruly passenger

    CWT Savvy Traveler
    Have you ever been on a flight where there’s been an “unruly” passenger? Blogger Bob recounts the details of the flight and the less-than-ideal situation in which he found himself becoming the unruly passenger.

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    Bob Beard
    My fate was sealed the minute I entered the gate area for my flight home from Costa Rica. There they were. An Italian family of seven; mother, father,  four children under the age of 6 and an elderly man who I can only guess was the grandfather. They started early. The kids, except the infant, were running around the gate area totally out of control. The infant’s contribution to the mayhem was constant crying.  I knew then they would be sitting behind me on the flight.

    In order to get the full effect of this confession, you need to understand the seating arrangement of the cast of characters. I was traveling with my partner and two friends. The plane was three-and-three seating:

      A B C Aisle D E F
    Row 16 Me Friend Friend Aisle My Partner (X) (X)
    Row 17 6 Year Old 4 Year Old Father Aisle (X) 2 Year Old Mother with Infant

    The grandfather was sitting further back.  You should also know that the flight was approximately 4 hours long.

    Immediately upon take-off, 17A starting playing “free fall” with his tray table over and over again. When he tired of that, he practiced his soccer techniques by continually kicking the back of my seat. When that failed to amuse, 17A, B and E played musical chairs scuttling from seat to seat. Infant still crying; no parental control. None. Everyone in the area was annoyed but suffered in silence.

    My partner kept looking across the aisle at me with an expression akin to when you know something awful is going to happen and can’t stop it.  It was “hour 3” of this pandemonium and he knew I was going to “blow.”  

    I stood up, turned around as best I could in those conditions, looked down at the 6 year old and said quietly but sternly, “You WILL stop letting your tray table drop and you WILL stop kicking my seat. Do you understand?” He looked up and nodded affirmatively. And he did stop.

    His father said, “See, I told you that you were going to get in trouble.”

    I thought that would be the end of it. I sat down and just as I did, the mother popped up with screaming infant in arms and yelled across the aisle, “Don’t talk to my children like that!” Then my partner stood up and started yelling at the mother to be quiet and keep her children under control. Then the grandfather came limping down the aisle saying, “You want to fight? You fight me!”

    Well, then it was “on.” The flight attendant came hurtling down the aisle asking what was wrong. I asked her if she had not been on board for the last 3 hours and not noticed how unhappy everyone around this family was.  She said no one had “brought it to her attention,” and to please stop because everyone on board was now frightened.  (This was only 5 days after the Jet Blue pilot had an incident at 30,000 feet and yes, we were on Jet Blue so I can imagine what was going through everyone’s mind).

    Now the good part.  Two imposing gentlemen got up from their seats forward in the cabin.  They both had short sleeve, blue shirts on with epaulets.  They came back to the vortex of the mayhem and started talking to my partner and the family.  I thought they were Jet Blue pilots, deadheading and seeing if they could help calm everyone down.  I could not hear what they were saying and I was happy now anyway because 17A actually did stop and I was reading my book.  All of a sudden, my partner passed a hastily scribbled note to me via our friends.  I unfolded it.  It read:

    “Stop it! Don’t say another word or  Marshal will arrest us.”   I read it again, not understanding.  I circled the word “Marshal” and wrote, “who is Marshal?” and passed it back to him.

    My partner just rolled his eyes and then asked my friends to impart to me that the “men in blue” were air marshals and what they were telling both my partner and the family was that if either side said another word before we landed at JFK, we would be arrested upon arrival.  That’s who Marshal was.

    Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson which I am passing on to you dear readers; if anyone or anything is bothering you on a flight, tell the flight attendants. Do not take matters into your own hands.

    -Blogger Bob (not in jail)

2 Responsesso far.

  1. Nikki McLain Nikki McLain says:

    Bob, I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, but I was laughing out loud when I read this. Hilarious story, glad you weren’t arrested!!!

  2. Patrick Coleman Patrick Coleman says:

    Bob — looks like it could have been worse. At least they didn’t break out the duct tape!
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/04/travel/iceland-disruptive-passenger/index.html