Dealing with Passengers (Part III)

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Announcing my new eBook!

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Publishing on Amazon Kindle in June!

—Previously Unpublished Adventures

—Inflight Emergencies

—You’re the Captain

—Lessons Learned the Hard Way

—The Stories Behind the Stories

—Guest Stories by noted aviation authors

—Excerpts from Upcoming Novels

Life, Love, Laughs…and Tears in the Sky


Stay tuned to this link for publication!

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And in related news, check out my recent podcast interview on!

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And Now . . .

Dealing with Passengers
Part III: Make My Day
I have a Napoleon Complex:  I am spring loaded to kick your obnoxious arse off my plane.  My motto is, “Welcome Aboard! Make My Day.”  About the only thing holding me back is having to do the required paperwork.

9/11 did one good thing:  it put “Command Authority” back in the hands of El Cap-i-tan.  Moreover, when necessary, an airport full of bored cops always eagerly awaits our phone call.
“Hello, ATC?  This is Captain Fife.
Send the TSA, FBI, CIA, SWAT, and Seal Team 6.
Why?  Oh, some guy wouldn’t stop talking on his cell.”
Of course, I must have sound reason for my actions.  Obviously, “Safety” is always the bottom line.  Some other clearly-crossed lines are:  drunk and/or disorderly, smokin’ in the boys’ room, failure to obey a crew member, and physical or verbal abuse.

On the other side of the line, the Disabilities Act forbids me from passenger removal for disabilities resulting in the “appearance or involuntary behavior that would annoy or inconvenience others.”  Moreover—sadly—I CANNOT eject you for your horrid body odor.

In between those lines, however, there’s about 50 shades of grey.
“Suspicious behavior”…hmm, where’s that line?  For me, it boils down to, “are you comfortable transporting this passenger?”  Or, “will it interfere with your duties?”  One thing I’ve learned these past 33 years in the sky: a problem on the ground nearly always becomes a bigger problem upstairs.

Another thing I must keep in mind are the passengers around the weirdo.   As mentioned in my article, “Terror in the Skies!”, post-9/11 passengers are spring-loaded to pounce on anyone behaving the slightest bit odd; they’re my own personal, onboard SWAT team.

But what if the poor schmuck is simply on meds and can’t help himself?  Take that behavior up to altitude (8,000’ of air pressure inside the cabin at cruise altitude,) and those medical effects can amplify.  Since I can’t legally boot the weirdo off, we gotta keep a keen eye on the on board SWAT team.
Sorry, Miss T, nuthin’ Cappy can do!
About once or twice a year I get to boot a drunk, smoker, or obnoxious moron off the ship.  That’s on average.
Once, I had to do it two flights in a row…
The first was a trio of young male passengers surreptitiously using walkie talkies to communicate in flight.  A huge no-no, and one that actually interfered with our radios.  At first we thought we had a “stuck microphone” on frequency, which squeals every time someone else transmits.  But when we switched to a new ATC freq, we heard the same squeal.
FO Tom and I were just scratching our heads when the lead flight attendant called to report the disturbance.  I ordered the FA’s to confiscate their gear.  But when confronted, each suspect claimed they had no such item—even though multiple passengers saw them.


Stillthink that comment about the flight attendant’s arse was funny, pal?!
Ah!  No problem.  Cap’n Nap’n* knows how to deal with this.  One simple radio call, and upon landing the suspects were personally welcomed to LAX by airport police officers, who escorted the gentlemen off the plane and into the loving hands of the FBI.**


There are times I wish waterboarding was legal…
Sigh. A Cap’n can dream…

The second flight was much simpler.

Kicked a guy off for smokin’ in the boys’ room.  No brainer.  C ya!  (The fact that he was a smelly guy on meds had nothing to do with it!)

Then there was that kid in KELP with a passel of razor blades spilling out of his backpack.  Um, TSA, hello?!

Needless to say, he spent an extra night in El Paso contemplating his travel packing techniques…
“Capn’s Log, Stardate 2014 . . . having exercised my full  Captain’s Authority to kick all drunks, smokers and obnoxious morons off my ship—including that pointy-eared Vulcan freakazoid—
I find myself alone. If it wasn’t for my own awesomeness, I’d be lonely…”
Similar stories in the news afford equally entertaining scenarios***
—Thou shalt not pose as a pilot and use fake id’s to hitch a free ride aboard an airliner, a la the infamous “Catch Me if You Can” antihero Frank Abignale.  Result:  arrest on suspicion of endangering airline security and “usurping a title.”
—Thou shalt not slap the passenger ahead of you for reclining his seat into your lap.  Result: restraint in plastic cuffs and arrest upon landing.
—Thou shalt not call in a bogus terror threat accusing your love’s new boyfriend on his plane flight.  Result: Arrest by the FBI and charges carrying up to 10 years in prison.
—Thou shalt not wear a shirt on board a plane mocking the TSA and stating, “Bombs,ZOMG/ZOMG terrsts.”  Result: ejection from said plane.
—Thou shalt not lock oneself in the cockpit before flight to morn a recent breakup.  Result:  removal and arrest.
—Thou shalt not punch another passenger inflight, and yell profanities at other passengers and flight crew…even if you’re just a drunken grandma.  Result:  Pilot turns plane around and lands, and naughty, wasted grannie removed and arrested, to sobered off in the slammer.

Of course, stupidity doesn’t start at the airplane door. Here’s TSA’s, uh “Best of” from 2013:

From TSA’s “Year in Review” Blog

And in other, non-security-related-but-equally-entertaining airline news:

—Thou shalt not remove sex toys from a passenger’s check-in luggage and tape them to the outside of the bag.  Result:  lawsuit against airline for duress from said passenger.

—Thou shalt not cut in line while boarding to get a better seat.  Result:  Read an apology over the PA that states, “…I cut in line to get a seat that rightfully belonged to one of you good people.  I hope you will forgive me . . . I am just a young man that thinks I am smarter than I am.  Enjoy your flight, and remember to fly Southwest, because they let my coach do this to me.”

* “‘Cap’n Nap’n’ is short for “Napolean”–not “Napping,” doofus!!

**Our obsession with Political Correctness forbids me from “profiling.”  But let’s just say the perps would have “fit the profile,” had I been profiling.  Which I wasn’t . . .

***See Legal Blog Watch’s hysterical section, “Things you can’t do on a plane.”

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Related Cap’n Aux Links

Related Links

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Taxiing for Takeoff

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Dealing with Passengers—Part IV


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