The five kinds of people you meet at an airport screening area

Brian Jackson/Shutterstock
Brian Jackson/Shutterstock

Next time you fly, take a minute to look around at the airport screening area. You’ll see all kinds of interesting passengers, from the “get-alongs” to the dissidents to the folks who think the rules don’t apply to them.

Just last week at the crowded Orlando airport, I had a front-row ticket to a confrontation between a young woman and a TSA screener.

Young woman: “I don’t want to be X-rayed.”

Screener: “We don’t use X-rays.”

Young woman: “I don’t want to be scanned, either.”

Screener: “Then you’ll get a pat-down.”
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Up in the air: Who is torturing whom?

skySandra Mennitto watched a flight attendant torture a passenger for almost two hours on a recent trip from Chicago and Harrisburg, Pa.

Well, not torture in the Zero Dark Thirty sense of the word. But almost as painful, she says.

“A gentleman behind me had a full leg cast,” she remembers. For comfort, he had stretched the affected leg into the aisle. And that’s when the attendant stopped him.

“She talked down to him,” says Mennitto. “She said, ‘Just get it out of the aisle.’ In severe pain, he forced his leg around and held it [below the seat].”
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Oh, the irrational passengers airlines fly!

Chalabala/Shutterstock
What is it about air travel that makes us lose our minds?

Just the other day, I got an email from a reader who claimed she was “outraged” by a flight delay.

The first leg of her flight from Austin to Dallas had been canceled, causing her to miss her connection to an international flight. Although her airline handled the service interruption by the book, offering a flight the following day, she would have none of it.
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Oh, did I hurt your feelings?

Although I consider “reader mail” posts a journalistic cop-out — a favorite tool of lazy columnists who can’t think of anything else to write — I’m willing to make an exception today.

During the last few weeks, we’ve had a spirited debate about annoying air travelers. It started with the remarkable story of a passenger who was forced to stand on a cross-country flight. Then I asked you to vote on the person you don’t want to sit next to on a flight. And finally, we had a little run-off election between the top two categories: XL passengers and babies.

Along the way, it seems, I offended some of you.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of ruffling a few feathers. But it’s usually a clueless airline or greedy hotel that’s ticked off, and isn’t making them squirm my job as a consumer advocate?

I don’t really want to offend my readers. But sometimes I can’t help myself.
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Who would you rather ban from the plane: jumbo passengers — or junior?

It’s come down to this: The two most annoying airline passenger types in the world are travelers who can’t fit in their seat and screaming babies, at least according to you.

Don’t you think it’s time for a runoff election?

In case you’re wondering how we got here — other than the fact that this Wednesday feature is called “That’s ridiculous!” — here’s the backstory: Last month, my editor and I got into a discussion on Twitter about annoying passengers. We asked for nominations and whittled it down to a few finalists. The top two were kids and XL fliers, and so here we are.
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Airline passengers go to war over bin space

If mentioning the word “overhead bin” doesn’t raise your blood pressure, maybe you haven’t flown recently.

But John Masters has. On a recent AirTran Airways flight, the Wichita, Kan., legal assistant noticed that the airline made every effort to persuade passengers to check their bags. Many refused.

One air traveler seated near him then laid claim to an overhead compartment that’s meant to store carry-ons for four passengers.
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