In-flight struggles with safety

The Baltimore Sun

Maybe I've been watching too much 24, but it seems that passengers have been getting a bit more pro-active in the air. Or in one case, before the plane even leaves the ground. It's been more than seven years since the tragedy of Sept.11, but the American flier's psyche has forever been altered. We remain alert, subjecting our fellow passengers to a level of scrutiny that has nothing to do with who's hogging the overhead bin. And if necessary, we speak up or get up.

Earlier this month on a flight boarding at Reagan National in Washington, a Muslim family from Virginia was removed from the plane after fellow passengers reportedly heard one of their party talking about airplane safety. All of the passengers were taken off the AirTran flight and rescreened, however, the Virginia family members were the only ones not allowed to reboard. Later, a family spokesperson said the discussion had been merely about which seat is the safest on an airplane. The airline did apologize, but the passengers have not been heard from.

And then last week on a Delta flight, passengers came to the aid of a flight attendant who was being attacked by a man claiming to have a bomb. The flight was on approach to LAX when other passengers noticed the struggle and ran down the aisle to help. Apparently, no air marshal was onboard so the passengers kept the man locked down until the plane landed safely. There were 230 people on the plane, most of them grateful.

In these two examples, it seems one set of passengers got it wrong and another got it right. Both had good intentions, but that may not be enough.

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