Richard Moore: Staff rudeness all too common

By Richard Moore

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Attitudes of some airline staff towards passengers are questionable. Photo / Thinkstock
Attitudes of some airline staff towards passengers are questionable. Photo / Thinkstock

Doesn't a little bit of power go to some people's heads?

We all know someone who gets a job where they can start telling others what to do and they make the most of that ... every chance they get.

Rules are often their little weapons and, since 9/11, workers in the airline industry and border security have proven to be among the worst of them.

I'm not going to go into the "I don't give a rat's" attitude of Air NZ after it cancelled two of my recent flights at the last minute, as they will be dealt with in the future.

No I'm more annoyed by the continuous line of stories that get published about some poor person being given grief while trying to get on to a plane with a ticket they have paid for!

I think airline staff tend to forget that the tired, irritable or stressed passenger who gets upset when they are mucked around is not a security danger, but a paying client who should be treated with real respect - not a fake smile that barely hides the I'm not listening to you attitude.

Or - as is the case with some border rottweilers - just downright rudeness.

Although it happened four years ago I still have steam coming out of my ears after a female officer in Melbourne was officious and rude to my good lady and then got threatening when I took the mickey out of her attitude.

She told me her little empire was not a place to joke in and I could get into serious trouble.

I was about to let her know the only joke was her badly chosen hair colour when my lady switched the fire hose on me.

Anyway, there were two things this week that re-sparked my annoyance at the attitudes of some airline staff towards passengers.

One occurred in Christchurch where a transgender person, dressed as a woman, was not allowed to board a flight because they had no identification as a female. Darci-Lee Hume had booked the tickets under the honorific Miss but didn't have ID to prove who she was. Now while ID is not compulsory on internal flights, you do need to show it if you are asked.

She was told by Jetstar staff that her details did not match up.

In fact she said a manager said to her: "Your details don't match up, it says Miss Darci, you are clearly not a Miss, sir'."

She alleged: "They were just like, 'look, you've got five seconds to provide some ID, prove who you are or you're not getting on this flight'."

Charming. And to a paying customer, too!

Ms Hume said she had never been more humiliated.

Later, a Jetstar official stated gender status was not an issue and the airline regretted any offence caused.

That's too little, too late in my view bucko - and how a bit of common sense and decency from your staff.

But, bad as that is, how about the case of Mehary Yemane-Tesfagiogis who was trying to get home to London on an easyJet flight.

The Londoner, of Ethiopian heritage, was about to fly out of Rome when he was called to the front of the plane. He was confronted by armed police and escorted off to face 15 hours of questioning.

Confused beyond belief he wanted to know why he was being treated in such a way.

He was told - and this makes me steam - "A fellow passenger has stated that she does not feel safe with you on board."

In my view she should have been the one kicked off.

You'll be pleased to know Mehary was rebooked on the next flight to Gatwick and even more pleased that he is seeking legal advice over such appalling treatment.

- Richard@richardmoore.com

- Richard Moore is a Western Bay journalist and photographer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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