As if traveling by air wasn’t already a challenge, recent incidents have made it clear the friendly skies are gone. Current news stories illustrate some of the health hazards passengers face.
Example one: A New York doctor claims he was kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight on Feb. 14 because he asked for water for his pregnant wife. The couple and 200 other passengers were stuck on the runway more than two hours due to an overheated cabin. That’s not exactly what happened, according to the airline. Spirit Air spokeswoman Misty Pinson said, “He …cause(d) a disturbance and tried to incite other customers. After his son kicked our station manager, the family was removed.”
Example two: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was threatened by an unruly airline passenger on a flight out of Vancouver on Feb.16. Romney asked the passenger sitting in front of his wife to raise his seat back before take off. Romney’s spokesman said the passenger became enraged and took a swing at Romney who did not retaliate. The flight crew was advised of the situation, the plane returned to the gate, the passenger was removed and the flight took off a short time later.
Example Three: While Americans have been getting larger, US airlines have made seats and passenger space smaller, which came to a head in a “big” way on Feb. 13 when actor and director Kevin Smith was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight. Smith blogged, “I fit in the seat... I could buckle the belt. I complied with the Southwest Airlines standards "... and yet they bounced me regardless." Southwest blogged about it too, saying, “… the filmmaker clearly did not fit in the seat comfortably. Our employees explained why the decision is made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued (a) voucher for his inconvenience." Smith and Southwest also tweeted extensively about the incident, igniting a media firestorm. Smith, who has admitted that he usually purchases two seats, created debates about the ‘rights’ of overweight people which drew more media attention than safety rules that govern weight on airplanes because excess weight can put every person on the plane in danger.