Galley Gossip: The Worst, Funniest And Most Common Bad Passengers I’ve Encountered

From time to time I get asked questions about bad passengers. I thought I’d share a few of them here.

What’s the worst passenger behavior you’ve witnessed?

I’ve caught passengers taking other people’s luggage out of the bin to make room for their own bags. I’m not joking. They’ll pull out a bag, drop it on the floor and walk away leaving it in the middle of the aisle for the passengers behind them to crawl over. Have you ever tried stepping over a 21-inch Rollaboard? Not easy. Happened three times last month!

The funniest?

Recently a woman tried to stow her suitcase in that, oh, what do you call that spot? Crevice? Crack? Between the overhead bin and the ceiling? There’s like a millimeter of space there! I don’t care which airline you’re traveling on, that’s not going to fit. Then there are the recliners and the anti-recliners. One anti-recliner got upset at a recliner because she couldn’t get her tray table down. I suggested if maybe she removed the gigantic fanny pack from around her waist it might go down. She looked at me like I was the crazy one! One man actually called me over because the passenger in front of him had reclined his seat. I had to point out that, uh … his seat was reclined too!

What’s the most common bad passenger behavior you’ve seen?

These days, people are so self-absorbed multitasking as they board a flight they don’t even say hello to the flight attendant greeting them at the boarding door. They’re too busy talking on the phone, typing on their laptops, listening to music and texting as they walk down the aisle to notice their backpacks and duffle bags are whacking people in the head. Recently a passenger got mad at me – ME! – because I wouldn’t help him lift a heavy bag. That’s because he couldn’t get off the phone to improve his one arm bag swing. Two arms always work better than one when it comes to getting those bags into the overhead bins.

%Gallery-51113%What are the rules for dealing with bad passengers?

We can’t call the police or the fire department at 30,000 feet. That’s why it’s a good idea to take care of problem passengers on the ground before we depart. Before we kick someone off the plane, we’ll do everything we can to make a bad situation good again. Usually, it involves doing the following:

  1. Getting Down: Literally, we get down on one knee in the aisle at the passenger’s level. This position is less threatening to passengers.
  2. Listening: Most passengers just want to be heard. That’s it.
  3. Keeping Calm: We try not to raise our voices. Staying calm and in control will diffuse most situations.
  4. The Facts: We might ask what the problem is and then have the passenger suggest a solution. This way we’re all on the same page.
  5. Walking Away: A new face is new energy. If I’m not getting anywhere with a difficult passenger, I’ll remove myself from the situation and ask a coworker to step in. Even though a coworker may tell the passenger the exact same thing I did, they could get a completely different response.

If that doesn’t work, and we’re in flight, we might issue a written warning signed by the Captain. All this means is if a passenger doesn’t stop doing whatever it is they were doing, authorities will be called to meet the flight. That’s why I say if you’re going to freak out, might be a good idea to wait until we’re safe and sound on the ground and parked at the gate. No one wants to divert a flight. Plus you don’t want to end up in jail far away from home where no one can rescue you.

[Photo credit: Telstar Logistics]

Mystery bag gets passenger yanked from Boston flight

Boston passenger pulled from US Airways flightWas Ognjen Milatovic a nutty professor? Only time – and the legal process – will tell. The University of North Florida professor of mathematics and statistics put a carry-on in the overhead bin … and his fellow passengers said it was making strange noises. Then, he wouldn’t get off his phone and take his seat when told to do so by the crew.

So, he was turned over to the Massachusetts State Police.

Milatovic was arrested in Boston and then released on his own recognizance after being pulled from the US Airways flight on Monday. The mystery luggage was inspected, and according to the Associated Press, “no threat was found.”

[photo by purpleslog via Flickr]

Briggs & Riley luggage executives offer their travel packing tips

Last week, our very own Heather Poole was interviewed by the New York Times asking for her packing tips, and this week, we’ve got some tips from the team of executives behind popular luggage brand Briggs & Riley. There are some pretty handy tips in the list, and as always, it shows that everyone has their own method of packing.

What about you? Got any tips you’d like to share with us? Leave them in the comments section below! With enough tips, we may feature you in an upcoming article with reader submitted packing tips.Richard Krulik (CEO, Briggs & Riley)

Bans bulk and sticks with a central color scheme

Be careful not to over fold, it’s what bulks things up, taking up unnecessary space. I spread things out as widely as I can, laying my slacks on the bottom of the luggage with the “legs” hanging over the sides. I pack on top of the slacks and then fold the part that’s hanging outside back in – it makes a nice gentle fold instead of a hard crease in the legs. It saves space and prevents wrinkles at the same time. With sweaters, I take thin cashmere instead of cable knit. I’ll limit the variation of colors to bring only two pairs of black shoes, which I alternate wearing.


Carole Schnall (VP Administration, Briggs & Riley)


Her clothing arrives in perfect shape every time

My clothes always arrive in perfect shape and wrinkle free – I start by folding neatly like they do in a department store, and I put plastic in between each item. I use either dry cleaner plastic or polyethylene bags which you can buy at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. I use them over and over again. I roll my underwear into my shoes and take each shoe and put it into a supermarket plastic bag and tie them up to avoid dirt, which then get placed along the edges of my bag.

Jim Lahren (VP Marketing, Briggs and Riley)

High tech app junkie

Before I pack, I check the weather for where I am going. In fact, there are many great travel apps that I use for weather forecasts and to consolidate my travel itineraries. Think about what you are going to need on that business trip. Split items among your laptop bag and luggage to save space and be prepared in case your checked luggage is delayed. I like to pack my socks and important items in my shoes to save space. As soon as I get to the hotel room I steam my shirts and pants in the shower. This gives them a clean, fresh appearance.

Chris Delgado (VP Sales, Briggs & Riley)

If the shoe fits…stuff your jacket

My packing strategy starts with “working around the shoes” and looking at what coordinates with a single pair of dress shoes. I make sure to select light weight materials and ones that don’t wrinkle. I confess to wearing workout clothes more than once. I fold slacks on the bottom and build from there, with the largest and heaviest items on the bottom. Socks and smaller garments get stuffed around the edges. I use shirts on my own hangers and use the hanging section in our Baseline or Transcend bags – then hang them up right when I arrive at my accommodation.

I love travelling with a jacket – I stuff the pockets with accessories, power cords and anything I can get in. The jacket goes through the security belt, and I don’t need to remove the electronics from my bag. No bling or big belt buckles are a cardinal rule. I’ve learned the system of what seats typically board first and aim to be one of the first to board to get good overhead space. I keep my briefcase under my seat, and am very careful to not overstuff it or take too much so that it absolutely fits under the seat. If you are going to overstuff, pick a bag that is softer like BRX or Transcend for the extra space.


Georgene Rada (VP Product Development and Design, Briggs & Riley)


Says 40% of what she originally lays out, gets scrapped as a “non-essential item”

I really do have a no- over packing philosophy, even though we make some very large bags to fit it all. I lay out everything in advance that I want to bring on a given trip, and then I look, think and cut out 40% of the stuff that isn’t essential at the last minute. I design my outfits around pieces that can work in multiple outfits and no one is really surprised when the designer from New York is wearing all black.

I make sure to have the right accent colors and in general, I stick to thin and lightweight clothing, wearing the bulkiest items while traveling to cut back on space. For toiletry items, I stick to travel-size and sample-size everything. I don’t know what I’d do without my specially designated “travel shoes” because they are easy to slip on and off at security, they are lightweight, and versatile.

Mike Scully (VP of Operations, Briggs & Riley)

Packs light with just enough

I’m a one bag; carry on kind of guy, though I recently converted to a rolling bag for the first time. It’s made me neater, perhaps because I now fold and am more conscious of space.

Organizing and compartmentalizing keeps my packing to a minimum. I pack neatly, stacking and laying items, putting socks in shoes to use all available space and separate shoes from clothing. A minimalistic and bare essential type of packer, I allow myself only one extra pair of pants and only one shirt for each day while I’m away. For shoes, unless I plan to hit the gym or beach, I stick to what’s on my feet; what can I say, I travel light. I get everything I need in, and I don’t mind an iron, that’s what they’re there for. I’m always glad I packed as lightly as possible.

Peter Mack (Director of Procurement, Briggs & Riley)

Layers like he’s heading to Alaska

The last time I traveled to Asia I swapped my old bag for a new one, downsizing from 24″ to a 22″ and got all my stuff in! The four straps on the side allow you to cinch down the bag and compress everything. Since most people tend to overstuff their carry on, they bulge out and then it’s not a carry on anymore. The straps saved me – any additional space is pulled right in.

I don’t carry that much – I prefer to do laundry on the road rather than carrying more or heavier luggage. When I have side-trips on a trip, I stay at one main hotel and leave my bag there for day trips, only taking exactly what I need for the smaller overnights. I roll because its wrinkle free – it really works. I’ve rolled sport coats starting inside out with the lining on the outside, place sleeves on inside, and start at the top by the collar and roll down to the bottom. The result: one fold line only, right down the back. I nest one shoe inside the other – flip them so they’re face to face or top to top with the openings on alternate sides. I always travel with a lot of layers on – a couple of smaller jackets and a sweater instead of a larger jacket which won’t fit into one suitcase and then I shed my layers on board.

Michael Siemank (Controller, Briggs & Riley)

Is not at all ashamed about over packing

I have a tendency to over pack. On a recent weekend trip, my adult kids got away with an overnighter, Transcend 22″, while I took a rolling duffle. I don’t care about the cost, I prefer having my stuff. I hate the hassle of trying to make sure to get on the plane early to get my carry on in the overhead bin. I hate that stress. Folding properly is the key to packing; as is planning ahead. I lay stuff out on the bed and take inventory. If I need it, it comes, if not, it stays.

Since Jet Blue is first bag free – I make a deal with my wife to stay under the 50 lb. limit – my wife is usually touching the edge, so we’ll switch things from bag to bag. If I have to pay, I pay, though I’m not thrilled about the new rules. I think it’s criminal that airlines are trying to dictate what I can bring with me. And Spirit…forget about it.

Andy Radcliffe (IT Director, Briggs & Riley)

Steals space from his kids

When traveling with my whole family, I make sure each member, including my two kids, has a regulation carry-on. I spread the same amount of clothing across all four bags instead of the two grown-up bags.

To save space, I rely on packing cubes, which segregate different types of clothing and create a mini-suitcase inside your suitcase. In recent years I’ve started packing less clothing with the thought that I can wash clothes on vacation, while staying at condos or rentals. I always make sure my clothing is wrinkle-free material and unpack immediately upon arrival.

Gadling readers have spoken – Spirit Airlines carry-on bag fee is a bad idea

Several days ago, we asked you for your opinion on the Spirit Airlines carry-on bag fee. As a quick refresher – the airline is planning to charge up to $45 for each carry-on bag that does not fit under the seat in front of you. This is in addition to their checked bag fee.

The whole plan has triggered a lot of responses, from both sides. Some people are (justifiably) annoyed that airlines don’t pay much attention to oversized bags from passengers that take up too much space. Others (correctly) point out that when airlines started to charge for checked bags, passengers had no choice but to carry stuff on board.

Still, nothing makes a point better than some cold hard numbers in the form of a survey – a whopping 5,425 of you took the time to respond (thanks!). The results are pretty clear – 93.2% are against the fee and a mere 6.8% think it is smart.

Of course, 5,425 Gadling readers won’t be enough to convince Spirit Airlines that they making a stupid mistake, but if enough passengers do indeed decide to fly someone else, the message will eventually get through to them.

Spirit Airlines CEO stuffs himself in an overhead bin to justify paid carry-on fees


Spirit Airlines president and CEO, Ben Baldanza took some time out of his busy schedule to try and calm the masses about their upcoming paid carry-on baggage fees.

In his video clip, he claims passengers are annoyed by full overhead bins, and long lines to board the plane. He tells people that Spirit has lowered ticket prices, and lowered checked bag fees. In his logic, by introducing these new carry-on bag fees, the entire experience of flying Spirit Airlines will improve.

Now, lets take a look at his logic – too many people bring too much stuff on the plane. They crowd the overhead bins, and they create long lines for boarding. Why do people bring stuff on the plane? Because Spirit Airlines is one of a long list of airlines that charges for checked luggage ($25 for the first two bags when paid at the airport).

So, instead of removing that fee, and making the experience nicer for everyone, the airline earned itself the ridicule of the airline world by introducing the carry-on bag fee.

And seriously, even though the CEO thought he could be cool by trying to spin this with a funny video, the fact remains that the move to paid carry-on bags will probably cause the airline more than they’ll ever make off their new scheme.
Assuming Mr. Baldanza reads Gadling, I’ll explain why his scheme sucks from the perspective of a traveler:

  • People carry bags on board because they don’t want to pay the checked bag fee – they also want to prevent the airline from losing their bag, setting it on fire or having someone steal the contents.
  • Telling people that their carry-on bag fee is offset by really low price of their ticket doesn’t make the situation any better – people have a built in distrust of anything an airline tells them. A family of three may be forced to pay for three carry-on bags (each way). I suspect Spirit Airlines won’t be able to show that these tickets will be $270 cheaper when the carry-on fee is introduced.
  • People will vote with their wallets – there are still airlines out there that don’t charge for checked bags, and as of right now, Spirit is the only one with a carry-on bag fee.

In a Reuters interview, Ben Baldanza sated the following:

Sprit has reduced fares “by at least as much, or even more than the amount of the carry-on fee”, says Baldanza. “Southwest makes you pay for checked bags even if you don’t check bags, since they have to cover those costs but give you no break if you don’t use the infrastructure. At Spirit, you spend only for what you use and don’t pay for what you don’t use.”

We did an entirely non scientific test to check that. On a Boston Detroit-Tampa ticket, we found the following cheapest prices:

Spirit Airlines: $195.40 total

Southwest Airlines: $220.80

Both flights are priced after the new carry-on fee goes into effect. As you can see – Spirit really is cheaper (by just over $25). This means that a passenger on Southwest Airlines will pay more than on Spirit Airlines.

Assuming of course that the passenger on Spirit is able to pack a weeks worth of luggage into a bag that will fit under their seat.

In reality, nobody is able to do that (unless they ship their bags), so a family of three will end up saving $76.20 on the ticket, but will have to pay a minimum of $90 for three carry-on bags (if they pre-pay online, $135 if paid at the airport).

Goodbye savings.

To me, the fact that the CEO of the airline had to resort to filming a stupid video means the PR backlash from this idea has hit them a little harder than they expected. At least Ben Baldanza is no stranger to bad PR (though he is no Michael O’Leary).

In the end, I’m sure the new measure will take place no matter how much we complain, though I doubt it’ll create the “soaring sales” claimed by Mr. Baldanza, as I really can’t think of a single kind of traveler that saw the new fee and thought “hey, that is really smart – let me start flying this low cost carrier with all the fees”.

What is your opinion? Do you think the idea is smart? Or more importantly – why do you think it is smart (or not)?

%Poll-44426%

UPDATE: See the results of the poll here. A surprising number of folks actually like the new fee.