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Anger in the Friendly Skies

Posted August 10th, 2010 in Stress Help and tagged , , , by Dr. Linda

It doesn’t matter what major city you drive in, road rage is a disturbing reality on American highways. So forget driving. Get on a plane and fly to your next destination. In the air you are far away from the crazy drivers who take their anger out on unsuspecting motorists, right? Wrong. The friendly skies are not so friendly these days.

Take the word of my neighbor pilot. His reports of flaring sky -high tempers are becoming more frequent. His latest high adventure involved a frequent flying passenger who decided nobody could tell her what to do.

Armed with a platinum frequent flyer card and a first class seat, a businesswoman boarded the airplane. When the flight attendant told her to move her bag out of the overhead compartment, she refused. The flight attendant calmly explained that the compartment was broken and storing anything inside was against FAA regulations.

The businesswoman was infuriated. How dare this young attendant tell her to move her things. As a platinum flyer, no one bossed her around.  She loudly proclaimed her privileged status by swearing, yelling and demeaning the attendant.

My neighbor, the pilot, heard the ruckus. Opening the door of the cockpit, he told the woman to calm down and move her stuff. The businesswoman started in on the pilot and eventually took a swing at him. Hours later, after the police escorted the woman off the plane, the airplane finally took off. After watching this TV-like drama unfold, the passengers missed their connections and were hours delayed hours. Why? Because one woman felt she was entitled to do things her way and not follow the rules.

The point of this unsettling story is that people lose their tempers over the most insignificant things and feel entitled to do so.  Entitlement is a source of anger. We’ve become a society of people who lash out at others when someone or something annoys us. The popular culture gives permission and encourages this.

Professional athletes are allowed bad behavior because they are special and physically gifted. Actors can lash out, break the law because they entertain us and make a lot of money. People with power and influence can bend the rules to their advantage because they are movers and shakers. Entitlement is all around us. We watch it and learn moral lessons from it. So is it any wonder that someone flies off the handle when her pricey first class seat is disturbed?

Entitlement is not a godly concept. We aren’t entitled to anything, but because Christ died for us, we can have everything we need. This is a fact that should humble us, not entitle us. There is no place for anger entitlement in the life of a Christian. Yes, we get mad at people and things like everybody else but our response should be different. We are to practice self-control and restraint.

The next time you are tempted to angrily “let someone have it” because you feel entitled, think about the message you send. Ask yourself if your response is Christ-like. And please, don’t get on my airplane!

2 Responses so far.

  1. carolyn dean says:

    This is in regards to the flight attendant losing his cool.
    He was doing his job!!! why haven”t we heard anything about the passenger, and there behavior which caused the problem in the first place!! if all the passengers decided to act like this,what kind of control would the attendants have? I am with the attendant!!! i have seen some bad behavior on flights from passengers,but never have i seen an attendant be rude to them!!!.
    Regards, Carolyn J Dean

  2. Dr. Linda says:

    Melissa,
    I have no way of recalling what I said on the show but a better strategy would be to get someone who is working with you to advocate for you. People who are treating you can make a strong case for your mental health and fitness as a mom. It has been my experience that getting the backing of a mental health professional goes a long way to combat name calling and false accusation. So find someone who is working with you, who knows you personally and can be an advocate for you.

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