The recent case of the JetBlue airline flight attendant who quit his job is a classic example of how everyday people often defend corporate interests without being aware. According to news reports, the flight attendant abruptly quit his job after getting into a nasty argument with a passenger whose bag was too big for the overhead bin. In online comments about the incident it seemed that most people cheered the flight attendant. After the passenger insulted him, he apparently cursed her, grabbed a few beers and slid down the shute leading from the emergency exit.
I understood people’s reaction, based on the surface information circulated by the media. The passenger reportedly was abusive to the flight attendant. But there is a deeper issue at work here that I think many people may have missed. Symbolically, this was more than isolated drama between two people on an airplane. Actually, there was an invisible third-party at fault.
The JetBlue conflict has its genesis high up in the nation’s corporate airline offices, which most of us never see. Ever since airlines began charging passengers from $15-$25 to check luggage, more people have been trying to carry oversized bags onto airplanes in order to save money, especially during these rough economic times. I think it is that motivation which results in the kind of ugliness that occurred between the irate passenger and the fed-up flight attendant.
I point this out, not to excuse the passenger’s rude behavior. Clearly, that was uncalled for. But we little people have to keep in mind that it’s the corporations that are making life difficult for the rest of us. We need to be careful not to direct our frustrations at each other and remain focused on the real source of many of our problems. As we see every day, it’s all about corporate greed.