Recently, I wrote about an American Airlines passenger who reacted kindly and positively to a difficult situation, and whose story went viral as a result. 

This story is basically the opposite of that story. 

It's about yet another American Airlines passenger, on yet another flight--who allegedly touched a female passenger "inappropriately" and launched into a racist tirade against her boyfriend. He's going viral too, but only because he was arrested and removed from his plane last night--and it took three police officers who had to Taser him repeatedly, first.

Of course, the whole thing was captured on video, from multiple angles, and posted to social media. According to reports, the "instigating passenger," as American Airlines put it in a statement, named Jacob A. Garcia, wound up charged by Miami police with a number of offenses, including trying to grab one of the police officers' guns. 

You really have to see the videos to believe what happened (several embedded below): Tasered--10 times, according to some news reports, although I don't count that many in the videos-- and then tackled by three police officers who seem much bigger and more muscular than he is.

His response is to laugh and call one of the arresting offices a "baby." Eventually, after a protracted struggle, he's taken into custody.

None of this description is meant to praise him in any way; if he did as alleged, he absolutely needed to be arrested. But I've been thinking about this story all day--about how it seems we can't go more than a few days without yet another story of a "passenger behaving badly."

There are the relatively minor incidents that happen to be picked up by cameras--take the woman on Delta who allegedly yelled a baby, and was not only kicked off a flight but at least temporarily was suspended form her government job.

There are the infuriatingly disgusting ones, like the woman suing American Airlines after she was allegedly raped on a plane. (I can hardly believe I wrote that last sentence.)

Of course there are the incidents in which consensus seems to form that the passengers were mistreated: Dr. David Dao on United Airline last year, or else the flight attendant who kicked a toddler and her father off a plane in February.

And so many others. It all leads me to wonder which of the following three statements about why it seems there are so many more events like this now than just a few years ago, might be true:

  1. These kinds of incidents--and I know I'm painting them all with a broad brush--used to happen just as often or more, but we didn't hear about them because it would have been handled quietly on the plane. Or maybe not handled at all, as victims more often remained quiet, feeling they had no recourse. 
  2. It all used to happen just as often or more--but we didn't hear about them, because it's only within the past few years that almost every passenger on every plane has a smart phone, a social media account, and at least some of them have a desire to become internet famous. 
  3. These kinds of things didn't used to happen as much. We are just a more boorish society now, at least on the margins. And/or: flying used to be a more special experience--more expensive seats, far fewer of them.

Of these: #2 obviously; probably all three. There are no easy answers to any of this, or we'd be demanding that they be implemented. I don't pretend to have them either, except to say thanks again to all the pilots and flight crew who are often put in the impossible position of trying to police us at our worst--and sometimes, at 35,000 feet.

As for the rest of us? Try a little more kindness.

Here's the viral video--three of them, actually, showing two perspectives of the arrest on the plane, and one showing the immediate aftermath in the terminal.

Published on: Apr 24, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of