An American Airlines Captain’s Rant on Plane Etiquette Is Going Viral

While many airline passengers are understandably frustrated with the travel chaos coming from post-pandemic demand and understaffing, you can bet that the situation is even worse for those who fly for a living.

A video of an American Airlines (AAL) – Get Free Report captain giving an angry-parent-style lecture on proper passenger etiquette has gone viral after a passenger aboard a flight posted it online.

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“Be nice to each other, be respectful to each other,” the unidentified pilot of a Boeing 737 flight says in the video posted by Anna Leah Maltezos. “I shouldn’t have to say that. You people should treat people the way you want to be treated. But I have to say it every single flight because people don’t.”

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‘Don’t Lean on Other People’: AAL Captain

A New York-based comedian who was traveling aboard the flight, Maltezos posted the captain’s speech she heard prior to takeoff.

While other passengers captured in the video show little reaction to the divergence from the type of monotonic announcement one usually hears, the post garnered more than 336,000 views on Meta  (META) – Get Free Report‘s Instagram within a few days of its posting.

“Everybody paid for a space,” the captain continues. “Don’t lean on other people. Don’t fall asleep on other people. Don’t drool on them, unless you’ve talked about it and they have a weather-resistant jacket.”

While the video is under a minute long, the pilot manages to address almost all the common behaviors that regularly make “passengers behaving badly” lists — taking up too much overhead space, spreading out too much and not using headphones.

An earlier survey conducted by flight aggregator Kayak found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of travelers are annoyed by passengers taking up overhead space with coats and other smaller items.

“The social experiment of listening to videos on speaker mode and talking on a cellphone in speaker mode is over,” the captain said, adding that this was “a little bit of fatherhood” in him coming out. “Over and done in this country. Nobody wants to hear your video. I know you think it’s super sweet. It probably is but it’s your business, right?”

Unruly-Airline-Passenger Counts Increasing

The captain’s speech comes as passenger frustration is spilling over. An annual report from International Air Transport Association documented one “unruly passenger” incident for every 835 U.S. flights in 2021. The number reached one in every 568 in 2022.

While incidents of actual violence are minuscule relative to the millions of flights that take off without incident every year, verbal abuse of airline crew and evasion of anti-smoking and anti-vaping regulations have seen some of the biggest spikes. 

Earlier this month, a flight attendant, Lisa Kulpa, also reminded passengers that “there is really is no need to be rude” and to take out one’s frustration on flight crew who are often overworked.

But to show that he is not all “stern dad,” the American Airlines captain also gave middle-seat passengers his okay to use both armrests as a reward for having what for most travelers is the worst seat assignment.

“You own both armrests,” he concludes. “That is my gift to you. Welcome onboard our flight.”

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