Cramped economy cabins, the aggressive attitude of some flight attendants, the presence of Federal Air Marshals with greater powers due to terror threats and an overall vagueness about passengers’ rights often leads to minor confrontations during flights which easily can escalate into serious situations.
As this New York Times story reports, the reasons may often be quite minor such as non-compliance with in-cabin movement restrictions or refusal to turn-off personal gadgets.
It seems that the “rules and regulations” vary according to the airline and even the mood of the airline’s personnel on-board the plane. While the Department of Transportation received over 7,500 complaints about airlines’ service and performance – with more than half the complaints directed toward United Airlines – in the first three quarters of 2012, there really is no concrete recourse for passengers.
One source in the NY Times article mentioned, “…you check in your civil liberties when you check in your bag.”
Online protests and campaigns appear to be the only means available to affected passengers for voicing their concerns. And even these options are minimally, if at all, effective.