Recently  I was on a flight in the Caribbean and witnessed an incident involving a non-Caribbean family and a Flight Attendant. I observed how it was handled and will share some pointers on what could have been done differently to ensure the situation did not escalate. 

The passenger boarded at the rear of the plane with his family, which included small children. My attention was called to them when I heard the passenger shout “how many times do I have to show them? I just showed the man down there!!”

Apparently, he was irate at having to again show his boarding pass, which he had already shown the airport security personnel at the bottom of the stairs. The Flight Attendant’s voice became somewhat raised as she asked the gentleman again for the passes, which had the seat assignments on them. During this time, other passengers were waiting to board and  some of those already on board were waiting to use the washroom. The incident continued for what I would consider longer than acceptable. 

A possible solution would be for the Flight Attendant to have acquiesced and told the passenger to settle into his seat and then she would come around to view the boarding passes. She also could have shown empathy by saying something like “I know these security procedures can be a hassle, especially when you’re travelling with small children, ” with a concerned look on her face to ensure congruence with her message. 

She had apparently called the Purser to let her know of the escalating situation. However, her voice volume was loud enough to allow passengers seated in the last few rows to overhear. Fortunately the passengers were not within earshot. 

A second incident occurred with this passenger, which should not have happened at all. He took his little daughter to the washroom. When they were finished, I heard him shout to the same Flight Attendant “how rude! how dare you!” and proceeded to tell her she had made the little girl cry. He then recounted what had happened, during the scolding of the Flight Attendant. Apparently, after the little girl emerged from the washroom, the Flight Attendant said to her “did you flush?”  Of course, the passenger’s voice became loud and he asked the Flight Attendant her name, which she freely gave. I suspect a complaint would follow. 

What do you think? If you were the Flight Attendant’s supervisor, how would you coach her through this situation, once the complaint came in?