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Aviation Blog - Jay Ratliff

Acting Up: The True Cost

Acting Up:  The True Cost

With planes more crowded than ever and passengers being charged more than ever for services once offered for free, the fuse of business travelers continues to grow shorter by the trip. As a result we are seeing far more instances of “air rage” than ever before and the industry is asking for clearer guidelines on how to handle passengers who are acting up during a flight.

Those who are unresponsive to the directives of the flight crew are quickly being singled out and (now, faster than ever) crews are more prone to declare an emergency, land at the nearest airport and have the (normally intoxicated) passenger arrested. Those are the headlines, but are you ever curious what happens to the passenger after that?

Normally before the passenger of threat sobers up, an account of his antics are splashed all over the social media network and it becomes a matter of news. The passenger is then booked and arraigned and faces an upcoming day in court.

That day comes and goes, with normally a fine – rarely do we see jail time. Then a short while later the passenger, who probably is breathing a little easier by now, receives a letter from the airline saying he has been blacklisted and can never fly that airline again.

That’s okay, because there are other airlines…right? This guy will be shocked to find out his antics may result in the TSA black-listing him altogether, banning him from all flight…but there’s always the train!

A few weeks pass and an official looking letter arrives from the Federal Aviation Administration saying the passenger has violated Rule 14 CFR 121.580 and is being fined $10,000 as a result. So much for feeling better.

Then a few weeks later the airline reaches out again to the troublemaker saying the cost associated with the diversion was $17,500 and he is responsible for reimbursing the airline. Really? Yep. The cost for the landing, security, additional fuel and crew time + the charge associated with the ground personnel adds up in a hurry.

But it gets even better when the man (who is now back to drinking again) starts getting civil notices from fellow passengers who are now suing the man for missing their child’s wedding, or a parent’s funeral or anything of 100 reasons (some made up I am sure)…all because one man couldn’t control himself for the span of a few hours.

Without a doubt the most costly hangover in the history of drinking. Let’s hope we can learn from this example and not repeat it.

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