Airlines

When Airplane Gadget Rules Are Eased, Will We Start Seeing More Recordings of Crew Behavior?

More importantly, will these recordings improve airline employee behavior?

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"Somebody sneezed too loudly. Back to the gate!"
Credit: InSapphoWeTrust / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

It's no secret that customers hate how airlines treat them. According to the latest ratings by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, airlines rank lower than post offices. The only companies customers hate more are cable/satellite television and Internet providers.

Case in point: US Airways kicked a blind man off a flight from Philadelphia to Long Island Wednesday because he couldn't stow his service dog to their satisfaction while the plane was still stuck on the tarmac. Here's how Long Island Newsday described the incident:

US Airways spokeswoman Liz Landau said [Albert] Rizzi was removed — and the flight later canceled — after he became "verbally abusive" with the unnamed attendant.

"Mr. Rizzi became disruptive and refused to comply with crew member instructions when the flight attendant asked him to secure his service dog at his feet," the airline said in a statement. "As a result of his disruptive behavior, the crew returned to the gate and removed Mr. Rizzi and his service dog from the flight."

But Rizzi said his last-row seat aboard the de Havilland Dash-8 turboprop plane had no under-seat area, and his request to move to an open seat was ignored.

He said his dog, Doxy, was first placed under the seat of a nearby passenger, but when Flight 4384 experienced a departure delay of more than 1 1/2 hours, the dog wandered out to the aisle — and lay on the floor with his head under Rizzi's legs.

Rizzi said the attendant told him curtly about 9:45 p.m. that the dog needed to be "stowed."

Rizzi received support from several passengers against the attendant. The crew responded by returning the plane to the gate and kicking all of them off to take a bus instead.

We're all familiar with airline safety theater – the pretense that when the plane is obviously stuck on the tarmac for lengthy delays everybody is supposed to stay seated with everything stowed as though the plane was going to leap up into the air suddenly and begin its flight. The dog didn't need to be "stowed" while the plane was just sitting any more than anybody else needed to be sitting with their seat belts fastened, seat backs up and all gadgets turned off.

Now that the FAA is going to ease rules on gadget use on flights, will we start seeing passenger-recorded videos of these incidents the way people record police? And if so, what impact will it have on the way airlines treat customers? As Ron Bailey noted, when Rialto, Calif., required police officers to wear cameras, complaints dropped 88 percent and use of force dropped 60 percent.

If imperious behavior by flight crew starts getting called out with video footage, maybe the public response will force better behavior. On the flip side, maybe Rizzi and his dog were being disruptive jerks after all, and if so, footage would vindicate their treatment.

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  1. Haven’t the waitresses squelched this yet, as they did with the pocket knife rule? After all, the airlines only exist for the benefit (and at the pleasure of) of their unionized employees.

  2. Now that the FAA is going to ease rules on gadget use on flights, will we start seeing passenger-recorded videos of these incidents the way people record police?

    That’s an interesting question. If an airline decides you can’t film its employees on its property, is that valid? Does it matter that for a good portion of the contracted service you are captive on the airline’s property?

    1. I don’t think the captivity matters; you can’t reasonably claim in most cases that you signed up for anything other than that temporary captivity.

    2. Given the heavily subsidization of the airline industry, aren’t planes more like a public park that charges admission?

    3. As long as you are not able or free to leave the flight, you can not technically be trespassing. So record away. If you get evicted before or after the flight, you still get to keep the recording- your own property.

      1. Also, with all those passengers on the plane I don’t think the airlines could plausibly claim that their employees have and expectation of privacy despite the fact that the airline owns the plane. IOW, it’s not nearly the same as going into someone’s home and videoing them, despite that the plane is technically someone else’s property..

  3. If imperious behavior by flight crew starts getting called out with video footage, maybe the public response will force better behavior.

    Or the FAA will decide that electronic devices are dangerous to use during takeoff afterall.

  4. I think there will be more recordings of bad behavior on the part of airline employees. And there will also be more recordings of bad behavior from fliers. Just like with cops and cameras, it goes both ways.

    1. I’m not worried about the airline personnel, it’s the 10-30% of the other passengers who operate with a sense of selfimportance second only to BO.

  5. This is why I don’t fly any more if at all possible.

  6. I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen a crapload of passenger-recorded incidents.

  7. I always have a point and shoot digital camera in my hand… If I have a window seat. I don’t give no fucks about device rules.

    Of course, I discovered air taxis, charters, and general aviation, and they don’t give no fucks either.

    1. You beat me to it! That song immediately came to mind while I was reading this. One of my favorite Replacements songs.

  8. All that, plus the TSA, yet you fuckers keep flying. I’ve got 2,200 miles of driving ahead of me in the next 10 days to avoid legitimizing that kind of treatment. But hey, if you like it, keep giving them your money and enjoy what you get.

    1. everything’s a tradeoff. I have no desire for that much windshield time.

    2. Driving across the ocean is really tricky.
      And if you drive, you are subject to random anal violation by the police, apparently.

      1. Only if you make a rolling stop, which is why I never stop.

    3. Not everyone has 10 just for the commute. Some of us actually have things to do and lives to live.

      Don’t be a high and mighty dick.

      1. Well it’s 2 for the commute. 8 for visiting. I get that many people *have* to fly. I find it funny though that people profess to be so angry at the state of affairs yet they gleefully continue to support it.

      2. I’ll drive instead of flying if the drive is eight hours or less. But ten days? That’s some serious hatred of The Man right there.

  9. On a “third world” airline such as Alitalia, there probably would have been a brawl with the crew, ending with the plane being set on fire.

  10. “Rizzi received support from several passengers against the attendant.”

    This made me feel better. Before I got to this I was wondering why a gang of passengers didn’t beat the shit out of the air waiter.

    1. Had I been on the flight, I would have started some shit.

      “GET BACK IN YOUR COCKPIT, BUS DRIVER”.

  11. I’d say they already have eased the gadget rule. I’m in a plane right now listening to music as we pull back from the gate with the tacit approval of the FA. In fact she was quite enthusiastic about not having to tell people to turn off their devices.

  12. Rude airline crew? You’re flying on the wrong airlines! I get this crap from American, United, etc. All the old schook domestic airlines. But the new guys and the foreign interlopers are great. I love Southwest, I love Virgin America, Air Canada is awesome, etc.

  13. Now that the FAA is going to ease rules on gadget use on flights, will we start seeing passenger-recorded videos of these incidents the way people record police?

    Don’t most phones have an airplan mode in which all transmitting functions are disabled? I’m pretty sure the camera still works in airplane mode. If any of the glorified baby sitters/ waitresses have a problem with it just tell them it’s in airplane mode (even if it’s not).

  14. I guess some people haven’t learned the second rule of flying yet:

    Never take US Airways.

  15. We’re all familiar with airline safety theater ? the pretense that when the plane is obviously stuck on the tarmac for lengthy delays everybody is supposed to stay seated with everything stowed as though the plane was going to leap up into the air suddenly and begin its flight. The dog didn’t need to be “stowed” while the plane was just sitting any more than anybody else needed to be sitting with their seat belts fastened, seat backs up and all gadgets turned off.

    This is not an airline thing. While it may be theater, it is an FAA regulation, and it applies to all aircraft. If I, as a pilot, allow any passenger to unbuckle their seat belt duringtaxi, takeoff, or landing, I am in violation ofthe Federal Aviation Regulations, which can result in revocation of a pilot certificate.

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