Brace yourself; expert says more videos of passenger-airline clashes likely

It’s been one public relations nightmare after another, and the nation’s airlines are under the microscope.

The most recent incident involved a Delta Air Lines flight from Maui.

Now a local expert is weighing in on how this is forcing airlines to make some changes that could impact you.

Industry analyst Peter Forman says with a combination of restless passengers and airline employees being on high alert, we could see more of these types of incidents in the future.

From a doctor being dragged off a plane due to an overbooking issue to a family arguing with airline employees about whether or not their toddler could stay in a seat purchased for another family member, the airline industry is on alert for the next public relations disaster.

“Airlines certainly don’t want that kind of press that happened with the United incident, but I think what you’re going to see is passengers are restless these days,” Forman said. “They’re going to try to push their limits on what they can get away with because of that previous incident, and I think you’re going to see more conflicts of this nature.”

Forman says in this recent case, he believes Delta was simply trying to follow FAA regulations regarding a ticketed passenger being in the correct seat.

But he says it’s the way these situations are handled that can become an issue.

“We’re going to see more incidents like this, because there is heightened sense of antagonism, shall we say, between passengers and the airlines these days,” Forman said.

With nearly everything these days being caught on camera from any number of cell phones, Forman says airlines will continue to enforce rules, but employees might have to change their approach in dealing with passengers,

“Obviously the airlines are being filmed while these events happen, so they’ve got to be very careful, but on the other hand, passengers need to understand that the airlines are forced to follow the FAA regulations,” Forman said.

Instead of seeing someone forcibly removed, Forman says you might see a plane sit on the tarmac until the passenger voluntarily gets off, which was the case in this most recent incident.

“So if the regulations are an issue, the airline is always going to insist on that. Interestingly the airline decided rather than try and remove the passenger, they basically told the passenger this airplane is going to stay here until you get off,” Forman said.

Delta said in a statement, “We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we’ve reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation. Delta’s goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologize.”

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