Former Airline Employee Shares Rudest Passenger Behavior

Long waits result in frustrated passengersAs we all know, air travel has become a nightmare, from long security lines to flight delays and it's only worse at the holidays. Though it's easy to blame the airlines for everything that goes wrong, the quality of passengers has also declined, according to a new tell-all book, "Tales from the Tarmac."

Self-published by Claudia Helena Oxee, "Tales from the Tarmac" has already received a good deal of publicity, with a write-up in the Los Angeles Times and PRNewser. Oxee worked in airline ground operations in major airports like JFK and for airlines like TWA and Pan Am for 16 years.

Modern manners: travel ettiquette

“Once, a passenger of considerable size, a bride, stampeded the gate area in her complete wedding gown attire, tiara and all,” Oxee writes. “After asking her to change into comfortable clothing for her overseas flight, she boldly refused and demanded an upgrade using locker room profanities.” Another passenger demanded a ticket to Germany in spite of the fact that he lacked a passport. He felt he was entitled “because he was a New York doctor.”

The book gives the nitty-gritty account of passengers' bad behavior, everything from ridiculous demands to drunken behavior to failure to comply with airline safety. According to Oxee, one nervous passenger who was nervous to fly drank six martinis before boarding a flight and was quite the handful once on-board.

"Years ago it was just unacceptable for a person to wear shorts and flip flops on the airplane," Oxee told Yahoo! Shine. "The major difference in both airline service and the type of passengers is the economy. With the economy in recession, the airlines offer lower fares to fill seats. In a single aisle on the same flight you might have someone who paid $700 for his or her seat, or a 'full fare,' sitting right next to someone who paid $99."


The stress of demanding passengers and overbooked flightsAs a result of the lowered fares, people feel more comfortable traveling in groups, which creates crowded and noisy flights. "We've all seen the mother traveling with children," Oxee said. "It's tough to travel with children. And the mothers are always alone. Where are the fathers?"

Oxee's sentiments about problematic passengers are echoed in a survey recently completed by British travel agency Skyscanner, in which 700 flight crew members said the perfect passenger is a 30-year-old Englishman traveling alone for pleasure-certainly a different demographic from a single mother struggling with kids.

Oxee agrees that the single man is the perfect passenger. "His mindset is, he gets on the plane and minds his own business. He doesn't go with the intentions of eating or anything else. He wants to go from point A to point B. He reads, he works, and he can handle delays."

The crew members also rated the most annoying habits of passengers. Snapping your fingers to get their attention is the most annoying habit with leaving your seat before the flight reaches the gate coming in second. Stuffing too many bags into the overhead compartment was another common complaint.

Oxee's book is more than just a collection of anecdotes about annoying passengers. In one heart-wrenching story, Oxee recounts the day Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb in Scotland in 1988, killing everyone on board. "We were on the ground and we couldn't give the families any information. I wasn't trained for a catastrophe of that magnitude. We were just watching the faces of the families as they realized their loss. It was the most horrible experience of my life."

During the busy holiday season, when airports are packed, it's worth remembering how many people airline employees deal with on a single day, each with their own set of demands. "Passenger meltdowns are a daily occurrence at the airport. Be courteous," Oxee says. "In the end, you get what you give."

Related links:
Look good on the go: 6 travel beauty tips
Preparing for international travel with children
How to book a holiday flight for less

New protections for airline passengers in effect today