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Why Airline Passengers Are Assholes (And How We Can Fix It)

I take a lot of flights and listening to someone singing or promoting themselves is near the bottom of things I would want to listen to. It’s a pretty close second to those desperate pitches to try and get me to fill out an application for an airline credit card.

An unwelcome private concert is what passengers on a recent Delta flight were subjected to when a singer named Bobbi Storm turned her flight into a stage for herself and refused to stop singing claiming she was “doing what the Lord is telling me to do.”

Of course, the video of the incident went viral and a people widely condemned the singer for her self-absorbed egotism. That video was posted to the singer’s Instagram so the whole thing was pretty obviously a staged bit of self-promotion. The story continued several days later when the singer posted a video herself noting that Delta had reached out to her to apologize and “noted that she did not want the flight attendant to be ‘reprimanded’ or lose his job.”

Unfortunately, the article I read about this (on, a business publication) made no mention of the sad example that this story sets. A customer behaves badly, bullies fellow customers into silence, attacks an employee for simply acting professionally and doing his job, posts about the whole incident while playing the victim, incites her “fans” on social media to come to her defense and manages to extract an apology from a major brand that justifies her bad behavior and shows others they can do the same.

This is a tragic missed opportunity. In a time when passenger behavior is getting dangerously worse, this was the perfect chance for a major airline brand to stand behind their people and set an example for what is (and what isn’t) acceptable behavior on a flight. There is a way to be polite and human as a brand without caving to every unreasonable customer situation and reducing the faith from your own people that you’ll have their back when they are attacked verbally or physically.

We can all be better airline passengers. Imagine if another passenger had stood up alongside the flight attendant to tell the truth … no one else wanted to hear her sing. A less confrontational way to start is by remembering that unless you hire a private jet, the flight is not about you. You are paying for a journey from one place to another and the very least you can do is sit down, be polite and let the airline pilots and crew get you to your destination safely and on time.

And definitely don’t sing. 

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#1 WSJ & USA Today Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 10 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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