Sunday, June 7, 2015

Passenger of the Day: I'll Have the Diet Weapon

A friend of mine recently forwarded to me a story and asked my opinion. You may have heard about it. A Muslim chaplain and the director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University claims she was subjected to racist comments after being denied an unopened can of soda by a flight attendant who said she feared she might use it as a weapon.

FA Penguin holding a Bro can of Coke
The passenger claims that after being handed a can that had already been opened that she asked for one still sealed, due to sanitary reasons. The flight attendant refused, citing company policy. The man next to her ordered a beer, which was delivered unopened. When the cleric asked why he got a sealed can and she didn't, she claims she was told because crew was not allowed to hand out an item that could be used as a weapon.

A further protest claiming discrimination prompted the flight attendant to retrieve the can of beer from the man, opened it, and then returned it to the bewildered gentleman. She then huffed to the cleric, and moved to the next row.

The cleric then asked the man seated across from her if he had seen what just happened. Not only did he see it, but he agreed with it, supposedly saying something to the effect of, ‘you Muslim, you need to shut the 'eff' up.’ He then leaned over from his seat, and said, ‘yes you know you would use it as a weapon, so shut the eff up.'

First of all, I thought I may have flown with this flight attendant. I was shocked one day while working the beverage cart, when a passenger asked for a can of sparkling water unopened and the woman I was working with refused. I later told my flying partner that I was disappointed she didn't give out the can, saying that if a passenger is going to spend a few hundred dollars on a flight on our airline, the least we could do is give a can of soda. After all, there is no company policy against doing so.

Second, my initial response to the story was that the man across the aisle needs to be taken out back and shot. Maybe not killed, shot, but shot in the knee or something equally as horrid as what he supposedly said to that passenger. I have a weak spot for such bigotry.

Third, that passenger needs to get over it; being given an unopened can of soda simply for sanitary reasons? Had she claimed she was Kosher, that might be different. Or just admit that you want a can to take with you. I'm more than happy to oblige, but let's not make up stories or just be ridiculous.

What does Penguin think?
Fourth, as far as using a can as a weapon, sure, yes, it's one of the things we have at our disposal at 35 thousand feet, but let's face it, passengers can bring on cans of their own, knitting needles, skate boards, and grandma's 13 year old fruit cake to use as a weapon. They don't need to wait for us to give out a can of freaking soda to get their hands on a weapon. This flight attendant needs to chill the freak out! That's what I think.

The story has been making the rounds on social media and I'm not so certain of its authenticity. I later found out that this was not on the major airline for which it was originally reported to be, but one of the express jet airlines who operates their own company using the major airline's name. That was a relief for me. Other than the woman I hope I educated about the unopened can, I'd hate to think of flying partners on main line airlines being this dim.

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