Tag Archives: The Hamilton Effect

Ethics Dunce: Hawaiian Airlines

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…”

A 66-year-old man on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that had just left the West Coast for Honolulu found the cabin temperature chilly, and requested a blanket. He was incredulous when he was informed that there would be a $12 charge. I wouldn’t buy a typical airplane blanket for that, and this was a rental! It’s gouging, plain and simple, and the passenger said so. He then demanded to talk to an airline official, and was given the corporate phone number. During his irate conversation, the man told the company representative, “I’d  like to take someone behind the woodshed for this.”  That’s an old, barely used term for reprimanding or punishing someone, but it apparently frightened a culturally ignorant flight attendant, who informed the pilot that a passenger was threatening the staff.Naturally, the only thing to do was to dump excess fuel in the Pacific, turn the flight around, and go back to LAX. This cost about $12,000, and delayed the flight for nearly four hours.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, U.S. Society

A New Way To Be Unethical On An Airplane, Courtesy of “The Hamilton Effect”

I’m in O’Hare, with about 20 minutes to post something, and amazingly, I just witnessed something of ethics significance.

As my United flight from Sacramento was at the O’Hare  gate, with passengers waiting for the jetway to be set up, a young man stood up in the middle of the plane and launched into a loud sales pitch for his depression counseling services!

Let’s call this ‘The Hamilton Effect,” in which people assume that a captive audience is there to be inflicted with their particular rants, business promotions and other intrusions.

The flight attendants had no idea what to do.  He was behind me, and I didn’t feel like fighting my way to him, intervening, and telling him, “You’re depressing ME. Shut up. We’re not your infomercial audience, and we didn’t consent to being bombarded by propaganda or marketing blather.”

Now I’m ticked off that I didn’t. Next time, I’ll be ready. This has to be nipped in the bud.

Oh, this probably wasn’t really sparked by “Hamilton’s” ambush of Mike Pence, but I’m going to blame the production and cast anyway. And all the ethics-challenged theater professionals who applauded this breach of trust.

On another topic, David Cay Johnston,the journalist who revealed the President’s 2005 tax returns, offers a rebuttal to my recent post, here. What fun!

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Marketing and Advertising