The usual media scolds and right-wing operatives are going all postal on Sen. Chuck Schumer, who seems to have riled a flight attendant on US Airways by not snapping off his cell-phone immediately upon orders, questioning her about it, and then muttering a not-nice word as she walked off. The word being "bitch."
Schumer has apologized for saying this word, which he did not say to the flight attendant.
By all accounts, Schumer uttered the word quietly to a Senate colleague in the next seat, and not to the aggrieved flight attendant. Bad on him for being rude, but it's notable that a Republican operative seated nearby ratted him out. The flight attendant never heard the word.
There are unanswered questions. It does not seem to be in dispute that the order to snap-shut the phone was given to Schumer before the cabin door closed. The flight attendant apparently insisted to the senator that no matter what the actual procedures were, flight crew orders were law and were to be followed without question. Period. This, evidently, is what Schumer was (unwisely, as it turns out) questioning.
We're all justifiably annoyed by cell-phone idiots on tarmac-parked planes who disregard the rules and continue on with their braying even after the cabin door has been closed, which we all understand to be the cut-off time. But it seems as if that is not what Schumer did.
I myself have noticed lately -- and so have many readers -- that some flight attendants have become cranky and bossy, and some seem to be making up rules as they go along. Yeah, they have tough jobs, which are getting tougher. But rudeness toward passengers has become a new air-travel problem.
I have always expressed deep sympathy for flight attendants, but really, some of them are out of control these days. Among the offenders, passive-aggressive males seem to be the worst, but more and more the occasional -- bad word uttered here, sotto voce! -- comes down the aisle, behaving rudely toward the paying customers for one supposed infraction or another. It has really become noticeable.
If Schumer broke the actual rules, he's deserves to be hammered in the media for being a jerk, If he did not, and was merely being pushed around by some cranked-up flight attendant on a power jag, I would say his quiet observation, directed not at the flight attendant but shared quietly with a colleague, impolite as it might have been, was accurate.
Airlines need to have a come-to-Jesus talk with some raging flight attendants and tell them this: If you can't stand your job and if you hate the passengers, when that cabin door is open, why not just go ahead and deplane?