Viral Video: Jetstar Customer Enroute To Singapore Slaps Bali Immigration Officer

Are airline disasters increasing? Not so much the kind that result in deaths and general mess – which are going the other way even as passenger numbers head for the stratosphere – but public relations disasters. Barely a week goes by that some airline is not in the dock for hauling a bloodied and protesting passenger off a flight or murdering their pet.

Latest airline snafu is the story of a woman and her four-year-old child detained in Dubai because, according to some reports, she drank a glass of wine offered to her during the meal service on her Emirates flight from London.

Not so, according to a statement issued by the Attorney-General of Dubai. In their version, the woman tried to enter Dubai on an expired Swedish passport, then an Iranian passport, which would get her only a short-term visa. That would mean rescheduling her flight out of Dubai. Profanities were said and things took an ugly turn when she produced a not-so-smartphone and started snapping photos of the immigration officer, which is why she ended up in the slammer. Based on information attributed to human rights group Detained in Dubai, media outlets then spun the story to suggest she'd been arrested because she drank a glass of wine that was offered as part of Emirates' inflight service.

Whom to believe? OK, so Dubai takes a dim view of alcohol consumption, at least in the public sphere, but arrested for drinking a glass of wine on board an international flight? If so half the country would be in the clink, given the wolverine-like enthusiasm with which Emiratis besiege the drinks trolley.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Media loves stories that cast airlines in a dark cloak and fangs. Ever since April 2017, when Dr David Dao was forcibly removed from his seat on a United Airlines flight to make way for a UA crew member, bloodied and bruised with a broken nose and teeth shattered by overzealous security officers in what the airline's chief executive described as a "passenger re-accommodation" incident, airlines have been guilty of a series of spectacular corporate face plants.

Peed Off

IT consultant Andrew Wilkinson claims that when he protested on the flight to South Africa, a British Airways... https://t.co/jkAFV3GHLi

— Police Alerts UK (@PoliceAlertsUk) August 21, 2017

When he boarded his British Airways flight from London to South Africa, Andrew Wilkinson noticed a wet patch on his seat. Assuming it was water, he wasn't too concerned, but when he moved closer and took a sniff, his worst fears were confirmed – the last passenger had peed on the seat. BA flight crew gave Wilkinson some wipes and told him to clean it up himself. Relocating to another seat was not possible in the fully loaded economy cabin. Couldn't they upgrade him or another passenger to business? Not happening, was the response. Wilkinson spent the entire 11-hour flight sitting on a blanket that, according to one report, gradually absorbed more of the wee as the 11-hour flight wore on, until Wilkinson's jeans were moist. BA's response? Wilkinson's frequent flyer account was credited with 5000 frequent flyer points.

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United in the doghouse

The United Airlines incident in April with Dr David Dao made global headlines.

The United Airlines incident in April with Dr David Dao made global headlines. Photo: Facebook

On a United Airlines flight from Texas to New York in March 2018, a flight attendant ordered a puppy be placed in an overhead compartment, even though the 10-month-old French bulldog was in a TSA-compliant pet carrier that fits under the seat. The owner, who was travelling with her young daughter and an infant, reluctantly complied. But when the overhead bin was opened at the end of the three-hour flight, Kokita was no more. Stress, heat, lack of oxygen, and separation from his carers had delivered a fatal cocktail. The owner was distraught. According to a passenger who assisted, "The flight attendant was very frazzled afterwards. I couldn't make sense of it. She said she didn't know there was a dog, but it was insanely clear, and I heard the passenger tell her that her dog was in the carrier." United tried to use the flight attendant's "I-didn't-know" in a classic butt-cover exercise, but really? Fairly obvious what a TSA pet carrier is for. And several passengers corroborated evidence that the dog could be heard barking. Big mea culpa from United and promise not to bin pets in future.

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Blanket ban

Passing through the first-class cabin en route to their seats on an American Airlines flight on Christmas Eve 2017, two professional basketball players were handed blankets by passengers – and then confronted by a flight attendant who accused them of theft. Argument followed, the FA said the flight would not depart, and the two were booted off the plane. Although the flight was operated by regional carrier Envoy Air, American Airlines subsequently ate humble pie and flew them both first class to their destination, although the players missed their team's Christmas dinner.

Medical mistake

Isabelle Kumar, her Kiwi husband Adam Brown and their three sons had been visiting relatives in New Zealand.

Isabelle Kumar, her Kiwi husband Adam Brown and their three sons had been visiting relatives in New Zealand. Photo: Isabelle Kumar/Twitter

In late July 2017 a family was removed from an Emirates flight from Dubai to Lyon. The reason? The family's 17-year-son suffers from epilepsy and autism. The family had already flown from New Zealand to Dubai with Emirates, their son had medical clearance to fly, yet Emirates staff wouldn't listen, even after his mother called her doctor and had his medical certificate emailed. The family was dumped unceremoniously at the airport terminal. After the story went viral on Twitter – the mother is a journalist for Euronews – the airline went into rapid backdown. The family was able to continue their journey the next day, but without a direct flight to Lyon they had to fly to Geneva instead and rent a car to complete their journey.

The source of so many airline fails is the USA, but let's give this some perspective.

US Airlines carried 740 million passengers aboard domestic flights in 2017. No wonder that crew sometimes get it wrong, and given the vagaries of human conduct and the world we live in, who can blame them? So here's a big shout out to all those cabin crew in particular who face obnoxious, drunk, disorderly and difficult passengers daily, who manage the situation with competence and dignity, who pour oil on troubled waters and make sure that everyone gets to where they're supposed to be, without ever making the headlines.

See also: Airlines have become their own worst enemies

See also: Six ways flying is worse now than it was 20 years ago

Source : http://www.traveller.com.au/pee-on-the-seat-the-biggest-pr-disasters-for-airlines-h140k7

Pee on the seat: The biggest PR disasters for airlines
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