Alaskans do a lot of commercial flying. Most of us can tell stories about delays, lost luggage, getting bumped, flights being canceled or the Christmas trip that went to hell and took our sense of humor with it.
Those experiences are no fun. But for the most part, they're not dangerous, either.
A few of us can tell more unpleasant stories about abusive, obnoxious passengers who at best make flights miserable and at worst threaten or assault crew members or other passengers.
Those stories are becoming more common. That's why airline employees turned out at airports worldwide Thursday to pass out information and demand that governments and airlines do more to curb unruly passengers.
The International Transportation Workers' Federation wants swift and certain prosecution of air-rage offenders. The union is right, not just for the sake of its members but for everyone who flies. Abuse or violence in the small, confined space of a jetliner should be made a serious offense with penalties to match. Serious offenders should go to jail. Airline crews should have the training and means to subdue or restrain passengers who threaten anyone aboard.
Some people have suggested that poor airline service has contributed to the increase in air-rage incidents.
First, airlines should do whatever they can to take the tension out of flying. Travel tends to be stressful. Airline personnel should remain calm and helpful and keep passengers fully informed of flight status and alternatives when delays occur. That may soften the rough edges of air travel and cut the incidence of bad behavior.
Second, neither poor airline performance nor a bellyful of drinks is an excuse for behavior that ranges from boorish to dangerous. It's not the airline's fault that an individual goes ballistic in flight -- it's that individual's fault, and he or she should be held accountable.
Alcohol does play a role in some incidents, and flight attendants have called for a halt to serving drinks before planes get off the ground. That's a reasonable restriction.
Passengers can get plenty to drink while airborne.
Ballparks cut beer sales in late innings. Maybe airlines need to close the tap in the early going.
Years ago, passengers got the message that airline security was serious. Clearly, some passengers need to get the same message about in-flight behavior.
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