In a post-9/11 environment the slightest misstep or wrong words can quickly escalate into a security situation. From the crew’s perspective someone causing a commotion could be trying to create a distraction which could precipitate an attack. To a certain extent that’s understandable though a little common sense would go a long way — if you’re still on the ground that’s probably not what’s happening.
Hypercaution has created license for some crewmembers to go on power trips. I’ve watched flight attendants move customers’ belongings in the overhead. If a passenger speaks up, afraid their computer for instance might disappear to camera equipment could get damaged, the passenger is immediately put on notice: are we going to have a problem? In other words sit down, shut up, or you’re off the flight.
Since the David Dao dragging incident on United last April there’s been more attention paid to the problem of airlines turning customer service problems over to law enforcement. If a passenger fails to respond to an instruction to ‘jump’ with ‘how high?’ they may find themselves taken off the aircraft – physically – by law enforcement.
But what if that passenger doesn’t speak English? I feel badly for an elderly Spanish couple kicked off a KLM Amsterdam – Madrid flight yesterday. A flight attendant moved the man’s bag. We was concerned for its contents. Since the crewmember didn’t speak Spanish, the passenger didn’t understand what was happening and didn’t immediately submit. So the couple was booted from the aircraft.
Vuelo Amsterdam-Madrid.Sacan a un pasajero español de un avión porque no hay nadie en la tripulación que pueda hablar con el en su idioma. el piloto dice que era imposible comunicarse con él. Vergüenza de compañía #Klm #klm #Aena @KLM @KLM_ES @KLM_AR @KLM_MX pic.twitter.com/et3a8Y5SZI
— Gonzalo Rubio Diaz (@grubio92) November 5, 2018
— PepeG.V. (@PepeGuillenV) November 5, 2018
Passengers on the flight get up and try to insist the couple remain on board. Eventually, as they get off the plane, they apologize and thank their fellow travelers.