Flying the Grumpy Skies: An Open Letter to a Fellow Southwest Passenger

Dear grumpy, testy passenger on yesterday’s Southwest flights:

Yes, it sucks for a flight to be delayed for 2 hours. The storms that caused the delay are not the airline’s fault. The leaky windshield was probably only found as a result of the heavy storms. To get home 2-3 hours later than you originally intended is definitely suckage of the highest order.

All of these things, however, do not give you a free pass to be a bitch to the flight attendant, who is just trying to keep a mother and her 2 young sons together on a full flight. Yes, you wanted to sit with your traveling companions. Yes, you thought putting stuff in your seat would hold the seat for you. But you weren’t being singled out, because everyone else who tried the saves-ies thing also got shafted. Your bitchiness came dangerously close to delaying our flight, because I think you were two steps from being escorted off the plane. Thank goodness for your traveling companion, who moved just to get you to shut up. (I suspect she does many things to accommodate your tendency to go into raving bitch mode. But that’s for her and her therapist to address.)

Have you ever worked in customer service? I have, and it is not easy. I can’t begin to imagine how it must be to provide excellent service while being essentially trapped for up to 5 hours in a closed metal box with customers who are by turns rude, demanding, or downright foul. That level of customer service requires A-level skills in diplomacy and tact. Maybe you don’t realize this, but the attendant who pissed you off was the same attendant who made sure a special needs child in the row ahead of me got some water, because his mother was more interested in getting a cocktail in the 30 minutes available for drink service than ensuring her child was comfortable. Looking out for kids in that way is damn admirable to me.

If you don’t like how Southwest is doing things with seating (and believe me, the open seating policy tries my patience, too), then you have other choices. Pay for the upgrades to A level. Or fly with an airline that provides assigned seating. But trying to get a flight attendant in trouble for doing her job in a compassionate manner is not cool.

How do I know you wanted to make a formal complaint about the flight attendant? Well, I was behind you as we left the plane, and I overheard you attempting to get the attendant’s name and ID number from another attendant. When you walked away, I mouthed “troublemaker” so she knew it was not the other attendant’s fault.

Yes, TSA screenings and restrictions make it a touch more annoying to fly these days. Cramped seating and delays make it tough, too. But it’s angry passengers like you, and all the other angry passengers who create chaos, who really make it challenging to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.