Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Airline staff have taken the brunt of bad publicity over recent months.

Some of this, you might conclude, was caused by their own behavior. Or, rather, by the position their uncaring management puts them in -- that of police officer first and customer service if they have the time and the inclination for it.

It's worth remembering, however, that some passengers are simply trouble.

They might, indeed, be troubled. They might be inebriated. Or they might simply be unpleasant people.

On Thursday, a Delta flight from Seattle to Beijing saw an incident that showed how hard it is to be a flight attendant.

As KIRO-TV reports, a First Class passenger allegedly decided he needed some fresh air.

He is said to have assaulted a flight attendant, after the latter allegedly tried to stop him from opening the emergency exit door in flight.

How many jobs are there where you risk physical injury? How many times do you look at your customers and try and work out which one might cause you a big problem, one that might spiral beyond harsh words?

In this case, though, it seems that passengers came to the aid of the flight attendant.

One passenger told KIRO: "They broke two bottles of wine on his head. I tried to choke him and he just threw me off like a rag doll."

That, at least, were the details that emerged on Thursday.

Now, an FBI report has emerged that adds even more gruesome details. It names the passenger as Joseph Hudek IV and says he was traveling on a dependent pass. He's reportedly the son of a Delta employee.

The FBI says that flight attendants were so concerned that they asked passengers for help. Hudek allegedly punched a flight attendant and knocked them over. He also allegedly struck a passenger over the head with a bottle of wine.

Then, says the FBI, it was another flight attendant who smashed two bottles of wine over Hudek's head.

"Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full liter red wine bottle over his head," the FBi affidavit says, "and instead shouted 'Do you know who I am?' or something to that extent."

The flight turned back to Seattle and one male passenger reportedly sat on the alleged assailant until the plane landed. A 23-year-old man from Florida was then arrested.

One flight attendant and another passenger were taken to hospital.

I contacted Delta for comment and will update, should I receive word.

Such incidents, though, are an excellent reminder that as pressures on airline employees are ever greater -- all in the service of airline profits, you understand -- the employees can be exposed to situations that can turn from the unexpected to the violent.

It's not as if they're paid the earth either. It's not as if the apparent glamor of their jobs protects them from the vicissitudes of human behavior.

Air travel isn't getting any more comfortable or pleasant. You can sometimes even see this in the mood of the flight attendants when you get on a plane.

They're looking at you with the same wariness that you might be looking at them.

Both sides are just hoping for peace. The flight attendants are hoping they won't have to enforce it.

Published on: Jul 7, 2017
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