I find this story hard to believe, and yet it is consistent with the disturbing trend of people and businesses taking unfair advantage of captive audiences and markets—what I recently termed the “The Hamilton Effect.” The attitude is, “we have you, you’re trapped, and you have no choice but to accept what we give you.” It is a breach of respect, fairness, autonomy, and the Golden Rule.
Before I saw this story today—it is a few says old, but I missed it–I was going to write about a more mundane example I encountered at the airport in Sacramento. I was getting on a long flight and an early one, so I bought more items than usual at an airport news store: a large bottle of water, a granola bar, orange juice, some yogurt, two newspapers and a magazine. After I paid, I asked for a bag, as I always do, and was told that it would cost 25 cents. I never heard of such a thing. I literally had more than I could carry without a bag, and told the clerk that if they were going to change the rules, I should have advance notice. There was no real option, however, unless I wanted to be thirsty and hungry on the airplane for a couple of hours, as well as bored with nothing to read.
All of the airport is like that, of course. Commentators as diverse as Jerry Seinfeld and Ralph Nader complain about it: you are suddenly in some alternate universe where everything costs twice as much. I bought a large size bag of M&Ms in Chicago that cost over seven dollars. “We have you, you’re trapped, and you have no choice…”
That’s a much better solution than giving in to an uncomfortable passenger who had a legitimate gripe, and letting him use a crummy blanket free of charge. Still, LA police and the FBI were able to detain the man as if he was a terrorist and interrogate him, so he was “taken behind the woodshed” for protesting and for using a term from Mark Twain’s era that a public school educated employee had never heard or read before .
That’ll learn him!
The dangerous man was put on another airline’s flight to Hawaii.
Hawaiian Airlines, based on its public statement about this fiasco, thinks it handled everything just fine, thanks:
“Diverting a flight is clearly not our first choice, but our crew felt it was necessary in this case to divert to Los Angeles and deplane the passenger before beginning to fly over the Pacific Ocean.”
Let me guess: what is this deranged, service-challenged, cheap and venal airline’s first choice? Slapping a passenger around until he surrenders his wallet? Dropping him into the ocean? I spilled a bottle of Perrier on a flight last week: should I expect to be charged for napkins and paper towels when this happens in the future?
What happened to proportion? Compassion? Kindness? Consideration? Is a lousy $12 bucks worth turning the already crummy experience of flying into this kind of mean-spirited indifference and bullying?
Hawaiian Airlines’ conduct was greedy, unfair and really stupid, wasting money and inconveniencing an airplane full of passengers in order to insist on a policy that was obnoxious to begin with.
“We have you, you’re trapped, and you have no choice but to accept what we give you.”
I can see this kind of episode happening to me.