Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
If I have to be stuck somewhere, Rome would be quite high on my list.
Yet one man says an airline's refusal to offer customer service caused him to suffer almost as much as those once tossed to the lions -- or even to Russell Crowe -- in that fair city.
I exaggerate, of course.
But only because the man himself appears to have a penchant for high rhetoric.
Writing in the FlyerTalk forums, this man -- handle antoniofuga -- says he was flying with his two daughters -- aged 10 and 12 -- back to Montreal on Air Canada.
He tells the story like this:
My 12 year old daughter lifted her bag up with no problem, but a flight attendant came up to her and told her in a very rude and abrupt manner that her bag was in the overhead bin incorrectly. When my daughter was struggling rotating the bag, the flight attendant switched it for her. At that point I saw my younger daughter struggling trying to hoist her bag into the overhead (again, I was not close to them, I had two people and a bunch of bags between us) and I asked if the flight attendant could help her too. She replied, "NO I CAN'T. THAT IS NOT MY JOB. IT IS YOUR JOB TO HELP YOUR KIDS." I was shocked. I replied, in a calm manner, that I thought part of a flight attendant's job was customer service.
This is a debate that's been hurtling along for some time. Especially in the U.S.
Are Flight Attendants supposed to offer customer service? Or are they nearer the law enforcement end of the spectrum?
Antoniofuga says the Flight Attendant told him her job was safety.
Safe to say that the conversation took on a difficult drift:
I told her I work in customer service (I own 2 hair salons/spas) and that being a flight attendant was definitely a customer service job. She said no, it was safety. I said it was service and she grabbed my younger daughter's bag in a very aggressive way and practically threw it into the overhead and stormed away.
You know where this might be heading, don't you?
Antoniofuga says a second Flight Attendant came over to understand better what might have happened.
He says the first Flight Attendant came back with the second Flight Attendant and demanded an apology. He refused.
At that point, two other passengers stood up, called another flight attendant, and told him I did nothing wrong, that the first flight attendant was blowing everything completely out of proportion.
And now for the punchline.
Apparently, the captain strolled along and told Antonionfuga that he and his family would have to leave the plane.
Delta may not be alone in having captains with draconian tendencies and a resistance to conversation. Antoniofuga, however, is flabbergasted:
I want to repeat, I was told that I needed to apologize to the first flight attendant for my behavior. I didn't raise my voice, I didn't call anyone a name, I didn't call her anything derogatory. I simply said that being a flight attendant is a job that requires customer service.
Ready for a little more drama? I am:
MAYBE if it ended here, I wouldn't be writing emails, my wife wouldn't be on the verge of blowing up every social media platform she has available as her job is social media. She works for an INFLUENCER AGENCY so she can make this ordeal much much bigger than it is so far. But it did not end here.
The capitals are Antoniofuga's. The slight chuckles are mine.
It then transpired that the tickets were booked via Lufthansa, so volleyball between the two airlines ensued.
While Antonionfuga and his daughters bounced between Rome and, oh, Lisbon.
Eventually, he says, his wife had to book the family new tickets and, together with the hotels he had to fund, he estimates his losses at $10,000. Conservatively, that is.
Naturally, I contacted Air Canada to ask for its measured view and will update, should a reply be forthcoming.
I have no idea if Antonionfuga or his story are real. It does, though, bring up some of the essences of modern flying.
Some will have sympathy with Antoniofuga. They'll say that airline personnel are, these days, far more like enforcers than helpers.
Others might read his words and discover an intemperate tone, one garlanded with a threat that his highly influential -- or should I say INFLUENTIAL? -- wife might cause Air Canada's image to plummet.
Moreover, if his tale has any resemblance to the truth, it's worth asking whether his influential wife would think the best online route would be to offer some gritty intemperance on FlyerTalk.
I fear that this may be a confluence of a Flight Attendant who's not entirely in the mood -- and doesn't like the cut of Antoniofuga's jib -- and knows the power she holds.
This meets head-on with a passenger who feels he's slightly more entitled to a level of service than the one that's now generally available.
Ultimately, if you enter into a contretemps with a Flight Attendant, please remember one thing: you won't win.
They can always claim you're a threat to the safety of the aircraft. And the captain just wants to take off on time.
The quickest way to do that is to take you off the plane.