Airline workers voice gripes about passengers

Passengers heading from Chicago to Cleveland stow big carry-ons.
(Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

After a 16-year career in the airline industry, Claudia Helena Oxee doesn’t mince words about what’s wrong with airline passengers today.

“Let’s face it, passengers dress the way they want and do what they want,” said Oxee, who worked on the station crew at John F. Kennedy International Airport for TWA, Pan Am and LTU International Airways, now Air Berlin. “The level of passengers has been degrading.”

Now retired and promoting a book about her experiences, she said she would “crack the whip” on unruly passengers if she were still working at an airport. “I wouldn’t put up with it.”


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Airlines spend millions of dollars collecting, analyzing and responding to passenger complaints. Oxee’s new book and a survey of airline workers show that the folks who manage passengers have gripes of their own.
Oxee’s book, “Tales from the Tarmac,” recounts her encounters with drunk, belligerent and hostile passengers, some of whom she describes as “twits,” “jerks” and “half wits.”

Meanwhile, the travel website released a list of the most annoying habits of airline passengers, based on a recent survey of 700 airline workers in 85 countries.
The top most hated passenger habits include:

1. Clicking their fingers to get a flight attendant’s attention
2. Trying to exit the plane before the pilot gives the signal
3. Stuffing too much in the overhead compartment
4. Complaining about the lack of space in the overhead compartment
5. Talking through the safety demonstration.

Oxee’s biggest gripe is passengers who delay a flight with no good reason.

“When they hold up an entire flight, it’s a domino effect worldwide and then they show up with an attitude,” she said.


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