Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Please be seated for takeoff.
Here's yet another soaring tale of airline discipline.
This involves Jen Selter.
She's a famous fitness model, whose 11.7 million Instagram followers have an appreciation--I presume--for her physical presence.
This wasn't an appreciation that extended to some American Airlines personnel on Saturday.
Selter's flight from Miami to La Guardia was delayed by two hours.
As she tells it to the New York Post, she'd got up from her seat to put her jacket away.
She says a male flight attendant told her: "You have to sit, ma'am."
She claims his tone wasn't entirely bathed in high-class customer service melody.
"The plane wasn't taking off. I told him to relax. But he had something against me," she told the Post.
Such situations can be so arbitrary.
Countless times, I've seen passengers, say, go to the restroom during turbulence and even in moments similar to the one Selter describes.
Often, the flight attendants say nothing. Occasionally, they come over all law enforcement.
In this case, Selter is convinced the flight attendant had something against her.
What or why remains unrevealed.
It appears that their verbal exchange may have become a touch cutting.
Selter says she told the flight attendant that there were two people in the restroom. (Some might wonder in what sort of tone this telling might have been delivered.)
She says the flight attendant quickly asked her: "Do you want to get kicked off the plane?"
To which she replied: "Yeah." A reply that, she says, was bathed with sarcasm.
(Wait, haven't I just been writing about the flexibility that's been put in the hands of American Airlines flight attendants?)
You will be stunned into spending the rest of the week in a sauna, singing the collected works of Barry Mannilow, when I tell you that soon afterwards, the pilot was informed.
He offered reassurance in the way that good cops sometimes do.
Just before the bad cops arrive, that is.
The crew was asking for Selter and her sister to be removed, says the pilot.
Selter tries to reason. Which tends to be pointless in such situations.
It wasn't entirely clever of her to tell a flight attendant to relax. It merely incited the crew to call the pilot, knowing what the ultimate result would be.
Oh, but then the police arrived.
Did you think you'd seen the last of them after United Airlines did untold damage to (what remains of) its image with its infamous dragging maneuver of Dr. David Dao in Chicago, performed by local law enforcement?
Yet here we are again, with police officers insisting they're merely doing American Airlines' bidding.
Just like that, 5 cops coming at me. Worst experience American Air pic.twitter.com/1LY1NrAQ3k-- Jen Selter (@JenSelter) January 28, 2018
And off she and her sister went.
My own initial barometer of such events tends to revolve around how other passengers react.
I've been on planes where passengers have applauded the removal of clearly belligerent--or just plain drunk--individuals.
Here, passengers appear--and I stress this is only how it appears--to be on Selter's side.
One even accuses American of harassing her.
Moreover, Selter posted a video of another passenger who claims to have gotten off the plane because she didn't like the way Selter and her sister were treated.
Of course, this is all Selter's side of the tale. And, in what's left of my soul, I tend to be suspicious.
We have no recording of the initial exchange between her and the flight attendant. Could it be that it became far too biting far too quickly?
The sarcasm whipped cream on top of the relax pudding may not have helped her cause.
Some, though, will suspect that this is yet another example of airline rules being enforced in a ham-fisted manner.
Who can forget, for example, the man who got up to use the restroom just before takeoff and was removed from a Delta flight last year?
Yes, the pilot went all the way back to the gate just to kick him off.
Moreover, American doesn't have an unblemished record with respect to customer relations. Last year, for example, a flight attendant challenged a passenger to a fight.
I contacted American to ask for its considered thoughts and will update, should I hear.
The airline did offer this initial statement: "Ms. Selter was asked to leave the aircraft after a disagreement occurred last night at Miami International Airport. American offered her hotel accommodations and transportation, which she declined."
Naturally, Selter is now firmly entrenched in the anti-American Airlines camp.
Yes, there still appears to be room.
"I will never ever fly American Airlines again," she said. "I've seen cops come onto flights. But they shouldn't kick people off unless something is actually dangerous."
Or just uncontrollably annoying, some might whisper.
For its part, United concluded after the Dao incident that, in the future, it wouldn't call for cops unless it was actually a dangerous situation.
Here, you just have to wonder whose nerves were frayed first--the flight attendant's or Selter's?
You also have to wonder whether the pilot, instead of enforcing draconian sanctions, might have found a better way to calm things down.
Oh, what am I saying?
That's just not how things work on airlines.