An airline flight is no time to talk politics

Today we renew our call that the airline safety briefing include instructions on how to be quiet on an airplane.

In the latest “unruly passenger” video, a woman decides that sitting in an aluminum tube with a couple hundred strangers is a fine time to yell at her seatmate because of his politics.

She demanded her seat be changed after learning he was a supporter of President Donald Trump.

“Do you believe in gravity? Did you know gravity is just a theory?” she said to the passenger after learning he doesn’t believe in climate change.

(Video Link)

Instead, the crew of the Alaska Airlines flight destined for Seattle called the Baltimore police.

“There’s no way I’m getting off this plane,” she said. “My husband lost his mother. Have some respect.”

They escorted her from the plane. The airline refunded their money, CBS News said.

The flight took off a half hour late.

  • Jerry

    Small talk exists for a reason.

    • Or, my preference, don’t talk at all.

      • Jerry

        Noise cancelling headphones exist for a reason

      • crystals

        I put my big ole Bose on as soon as I sit down for a reason.

        • Jack

          Exactly and pull out my knitting. Unless I’m seated next to a fellow “yarn addict”, that usually keeps the conversation to a minimum. Either way, I have my earbuds in so I am not listening anyway.

          That said, the over the top dude on my last flight was obviously over served. I overheard him say he lived in Wisconsin so hopefully he had a driver waiting at MSP instead of him driving.

    • Mike Worcester

      Books. Big thick books. Like David McCoullough’s, John Adams 🙂

  • Mike Worcester

    Perhaps we need to extend the adage about bars being a place where you should not talk about religion and politics to include airplanes?

    • KTFoley

      I thought the adage was not to discuss religion, money or politics in ANY social setting?

      Perhaps the nuance lies in how we draw the line between a social setting and one where we could safely dispense with those niceties. That line once hovered somewhere near the friends who knew what kinds of contraband to sneak to you in jail, and which stories not to tell your children until after you died.

      Virtual relationships invert that norm in two ways: First, clicking Like triggers a dopamine release (citation below), so there is more motivation to share deeply personal details with lots of total strangers. Second, we don’t run into online contacts at the grocery store after clicking Unfriend, so there is less motivation to get along with people with whom we disagree.

      Now we sit down next to a total stranger in an airport and think that (a) we can broach divisive topics in the quest for validation from people who agree with us, with no basis in the relationship to do so; (b) we can behave gracelessly toward people who will be on the other side of an armrest for the next six hours, with no repercussions.

      • Anna

        Avoiding religion, money or politics USED to be the social norm.

        Now days, anything goes it seems including airline passengers verbally or physically assaulting their fellow passengers and/or the airline staff.

        Bob C has the best idea. When in doubt, don’t talk at all.

        My grandfather had a plaque hanging on his fishing camp wall: “Even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if it kept its mouth shut.”

      • Mike Worcester

        Well in my case it’s because I work p.t. in a bar so it’s an adage that we use a lot.

    • Bob Sinclair

      Kinda hard not to talk “religion” when one is a Pastor.

  • crystals

    The guy in the aisle seat looks like he’s just trying to breathe deep and make it through to the other side.

    • Heb Ienek

      Her husband. I believe it’s a look he has learned to effect at a moments notice.

      • KTFoley

        I’d cut him a break, given that they had just attended his mother’s funeral.
        And like the flight attendants, I’d cut her no break for using his mother’s funeral as an excuse not to control her own behavior.

  • Anna

    It seems just mentioning Trump has the same effect as several glasses of alcohol—it appears to reduce people’s inhibitions.

    I don’t recall this being a problem before the election although I had some pretty animated arguments with family members back in 2008.They are all Republican except two of the eight members alive at that time.

    McCain was not the polarizing figure that Donald Trump is.

    I liked Mitt Romney up to the point when he was miked expressing his opinion about the 47% and was undecided until that moment.

    I don’t believe Donald Trump is a Republican but ran on the Republican
    ticket because he knew he did not stand a chance against Hillary Clinton
    and the Democrats.

    This is one of the reasons I’ve switched to Amtrak. I met people from all over the world including a man from New Zealand who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. We never had a fight break out in the dining car, ever. We agreed to disagree on some topics and Obamacare was among them.

    If you’re not in a hurry, take the train. The passengers are very laid back and not prone to violence even on the Baltimore Metro or the Acela likely because they are not crammed in there like a can of sardines. : > )

  • joetron2030

    That lady needs to listen to Awesome Etiquette from American Public Media. 😉

  • Gary F

    What we don’t see is what started the whole think in the first place. Was he just sitting there minding his own business and the lady saw a Trump button or hat? Was he rude? Was there just small talk and the subject came up? She’s not very tolerant, is she? A guess diversity doesn’t include people who think different than you, huh. Why can’t we just all get along? Check you liberal privilege at the baggage check lady.

    It is gonna be a long four years for that woman.

    • KTN

      “Was he rude?” He voted for the sociopath, so yes, he was rude.

      • Heb Ienek

        Folks that expect to be recognized as gentile members of polite society must learn proper voting.

    • Will

      I like that liberal privilege line…I might have to start using it, it’s so true.

    • Heb Ienek

      She recognized that fellow didn’t see his own best interests, and was kindly instructing him. The fact that she was not recognized and awarded a seat in first class is more evidence of the impending Dark Ages. I mean, even her husband knew to keep his eyes down cast.

  • John O.

    Disruptive people often end up that way after too many cocktails. I enjoy a beer as much as the next guy, but I avoid the airport bar when traveling. We have friends who are flight attendants who have no shortage of stories. Many of them do not end well.

    • Khatti

      Ahhh! You’re reminding me of my bouncing days! Oddly enough, I’m not overcome with nostalgia.

  • Ben Chorn

    I am surprised there are people who still talk to strangers on planes.

    • crystals

      I don’t even talk to the people I know and am traveling with on planes.

  • Khatti


    • Khatti

      It’s the Enemies-R-Us part of this equation that really worries me about politics right now. If Abraham Lincoln had died in his crib the problems revolving around slavery would still have been there for someone else to solve. Conversely, if Donald Trump and his entire administration had died in a plane crash on their way to Washington there would still be forty-two percent of the electorate who would still be at the throats of the rest of the electorate (and vice-versa). We tend to think that all our problems are the cause of a very small group of people or just one person; if we just cut off the head of the hated administration everything will be fine. The problem is a lot bigger than that.

  • Heb Ienek

    I see a profit center emerging here. For a premium, select flights restricted to members of your own ilk.

    This type of product, seems to me, could be applied to many public activities. I think that many, nay most, college educated youth would recognize the model immediately and would respond enthusiastically.

    I must away to the Trade Mark office!

  • Kassie

    Having flown to Washington and back this weekend, I heard lots and lots of talk of politics on planes. Including airline staff thanking those of us with pink hats at the gate over the loudspeaker.

  • Celtic Lush

    If you are going to report news, you need to get the facts correct. She did not demand her and her husband’s seats be changed. She demanded that the man beside her be moved.

  • Credit Warrior

    Scary to think about how divided the country has become. Sometimes I think the internet feeds the “say anything you want as long as you agree with me” phenomenon which fills the blogs and comment sections of the internet. Politics use to be about compromise.