From Ethics Alarms’ “What Were They Thinking?” Files: Fly The Stupid Skies!

For some reason, the old United slogan “Fly the Friendly Skies…” was all I could think of when I encountered these two jaw-dropping news items in rapid succession last night.

On Southwest Airlines…

…Passengers boarding a Nashville-to-Philadelphia flight were startled to discover a flight attendant stuffed into one of the overhead luggage bins. Luckily this was a strange joke rather than the beginning of real-life murder mystery, but some of the passengers weren’t amused.  “I can’t get over how weird I find this,” one of them tweeted, adding “@SouthwestAir please get it together.”

Oh, it’s weird alright. It’s also unprofessional and unsettling. Flying is simply not a joking matter. In-flight staff are responsible for our lives, and we have no choice but to trust them. Any hint that they don’t take their duties seriously, are prone to goofing off, or have poor judgment undermines that trust.

Southwest’s response was to spin for its employee,telling Fox News,

“Southwest Employees are known for demonstrating their sense of humor and unique personalities. In this instance, one of our Flight Attendants attempted to have a brief moment of fun with Customers during boarding. Of course, this is not our normal procedure, and Southwest Crews always maintain Safety as their top priority.”

Reading between the lines, I’d guess that the attendant will not be facing smiles from the brass over her “attempt,” and will be facing some not so funny consequences for acting like a middle-schooler on the job.


But as the great Al Jolson used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” “What were they thinking?” advances to “Are they capable of thought?” in this amazing tale from

Air Canada.

When a series of delays caused  Elizabeth Coffi Tabu, a 71-year-old cancer patient in a wheelchair, to miss her connection in Montreal on her way her back home to France, Air Canada told her that she would have to share a  bed with a 35-year-old male stranger because the hotel the airline chose to house its passengers had only one room left.

When the woman’s daughter learned that her disabled mother was being forced to bunk with a man who could have been anything from a slasher to a snorer (he was neither, and volunteered to sleep on the couch according to  Yahoo News), she had to spend three hours arguing with Air Canada officials before they had emergency brain transplants and agreed to procure a second room at another hotel—which they could have done in the first place and not looked like cheap, irresponsible, incompetent fools.

How could any company be this obtuse? I don’t know, but an airline that hires idiots for administrative jobs might be inclined to hire a Boy Scout with an Aviation Merit Badge to fly one of its planes.

I’d recommend staying off of Air Canada until it explains how this fiasco happened, and has announced that everyone responsible has been stuffed in a Southwest luggage compartment.


Pointer: The OregonianRes Ipsa Loquitur


6 thoughts on “From Ethics Alarms’ “What Were They Thinking?” Files: Fly The Stupid Skies!

  1. I read about the first, but not the second. I can see how Southwest, with its well-known funny flight attendants making the rote instructions about seat belts, oxygen masks and keeping an eye on your possessions (“We have a great Lost & Found…it’s called ebay!”), might have some employees who wouldn’t bat an eye at temporarily hiding in a storage compartment.

    I don’t think it should be done. When I’m on the plane, I want to store my stuff and sit down, not haggle over space with a passenger who brings jet skis on board. The last thing I need is to be delayed by some flight attendant who thinks it funny to take up a whole compartment. But, at least, I can see someone temporarily losing their marbles and thinking it’s funny.

    That last story, however, takes the cake. I can’t imagine anyone with two brain cells to rub together would think that requiring any woman to share a one-bed hotel room with a strange man is a good idea.

  2. I have lost all my respect for airlines after a recent trip to Wisconsin almost went terribly awry, thanks to American Airlines’ poor handling of the “ripple” effect caused by one cancelled flight. AA’s response to everything was just to shrug and say tough luck. You’d think after the black eye they got in 2017 the airlines would be trying to do it better and cleaner. They aren’t. They just did damage control for a while and waited for everyone to slip back into business as usual. That said, I still applaud them for kicking those who harass over political disagreements off.

    • American Airlines is a company we will only use in an emergency. We had a similar experience to yours, and they were incredibly indifferent to our inconvenience.

      Would a little compassion, even not heartfelt, have been out of the question? Apparently, it’s beaten out of them early in their career.

  3. Slick Willy? The response from Southwest?

    I find the Southwest flight attendant shtick annoying and cloying and just not funny. They should fire whomever they’ve hired to write those predictable scripts. Herb Kelleher cracking mildly wise in a TV ad is different than a flight attendant giving a safety announcement in a weird way.

    • I find those predictable scripts similar to the spiel you get at an amusement park: juvenile, well worn, and usually only worthy of a grimace.

      By the by: I have no affiliation with Southwest: I just liked the logo at a time when it was prudent to add one.

      All of my affiliations resemble the TV show ‘Swamp People’ and showing mud in your avatar can deal to misunderstandings.

  4. 1. The Southwest prank was funny. Unprofessional, yes, but they are well-known for attempts at humor. I think I would’ve laughed.

    Having said that, if I were the top brass, I would remind flight attendants that professionalism always comes first, and stowing yourself in a luggage compartment is ipso facto unprofessional. I would also reiterate, in case that wasn’t clear, that the FA in question had her priorities misaligned.

    2. The Air Canada thing is just incredibly incompetent and insensitive — almost creepy. It’s worthy of a serious re-evaluation of any plans to use their company for travel. By comparison, the Southwest thing was a nothingburger.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.