This is only one side of the story. But what a side.
Sara Celeste Farfan Garcia says that on June 15 she was sitting in Copa Airlines’ Business Class on a flight from Panama City to Lima, Peru.
As with a lot of flights, cabin temperature was on the chilly side.
So, as Garcia says in a Facebook post, she passed her blanket to her young son.
He was sitting at the front of Economy with other relatives.
Copa Airlines doesn’t give Economy passengers blankets. Just imagine how much money that saves.
Now you know how many airlines don’t like it if passengers break their rules.
Well, Garcia says that she was approached by an angry flight attendant, who explained that her son wasn’t allowed to have a blanket and so there.
The blanket was removed and it all seems to have escalated, at least in Garcia’s version, to the flight attendant “verbally assaulting and pushing” her.
Oh, and calling the police. They, in turn, allegedly threatened to handcuff Garcia and took her and her family off the flight.
She claims the flight attendant insisted that Garcia had injured her and was pretending to limp.
She also says she was detained in a police station for some hours.
I contacted Copa Airlines to ask for its version of the incident and received a very different story.
An airline spokesman said that Garcia was “disruptive and aggressive.” Indeed, the airline said that it has filed a legal complaint in a Peruvian court against her.
Moreover, the airline insists that the blanket story “did not occur as reported.” It didn’t specify in what ways its truth differs, however, other than to say that “key details” were omitted by Garcia.
If Garcia’s version resembles the truth, this appears to be yet another case of airline staff taking rules to slightly pointless levels.
On Facebook, opinion was divided. Some criticized Garcia for sitting in Business Class while her son was in Economy. Others were appalled at the flight attendant’s attitude.
So many times recently, airline staff enforcing rules in a manner devoid of common sense have only made themselves and their companies look like the ultimate antithesis of customer service providers.
I can imagine that some US airlines will be relieved that it isn’t just their own staff who might take on officious airs and graces.
This isn’t, though, the first time an airline’s blanket policy has caused uproar on a flight.
Earlier this year, a Hawaiian Airlines Economy Class passenger became a touch upsetwhen he was asked to pay $12 for a blanket. Yes, of course the flight was diverted. What did you expect?
When airline-customer relations become the apogee of pettiness, how can airlines expect passengers feel warm and fuzzy toward them?
The sad truth, I suspect, is that many airlines don’t care all that much. As long as their profits grow and their competition is limited, they’re happy.