The Cycle of Airport Rudeness

The cycle of airport rudeness; another way of saying what comes around goes around!

Recently, two of my family members had to take multiple flights across the country to visit a sick relative and investigate a prospective university for attending graduate school.  Due to the locations of the destinations, multiple flights were involved. Some of the flights were routed through large airport hubs and some through little regional towns serviced by prop planes. This provided ample opportunity to people watch in a variety of places. Of course, stories ensued. Rudeness towards the airline gate staff by the travelers, fueled by a large dose of me-first-ness, impatience, and lack of tolerance for waiting ones’ turn and other such offensive behaviors were noted.

The airline gate staff (I don’t know what else to call them) was also witnessed to be rude without probable cause to travelers patiently waiting to be noticed so they could address their question clearly and politely when it was their turn to have some attention. When the attention came, it was in the form of being yelled at to “stay in place” or “wait your turn.” (Confusing, because it was, in fact, their turn.)

Luckily, none of the experiences were directly related to my travelers, who experienced some very kind airline gate staff and easy airport communications.

However, hearing these tales gave way to the following conundrum:  which comes first, the rudeness of the traveler or the rudeness of the airline staff?  One is fed seamlessly by the other, it appears, no matter where you go.

9 thoughts

  1. I think it’s hard to say which comes first! But after a few months of working there I bet it all adds up. I had to make a call the other day at 9:00 a.m. I caught the person on the other end in a bad mood. She snarled at me, and I tried not to snarl back. I wanted to say, “Sorry your day already sucks at 9:00 a.m.!” but I know it would have sounded insincere.

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  2. A smile goes a long way … even when talking on the phone, if you smile it changes the sound of your words. And my smile has a positive affect on me, too. I fly a lot! (over 100,000 air miles each year)… and I usually witness more good than bad. It’s just that when it’s bad, it’s very public. And I always wonder what has happened to bring a person to that “breaking point” in public.


    1. All true. Thanks for your comments. We travel a fair amount. I was overseas last fall and everyone was wonderful. Yet, you do see this happen. You are right a smile, a please, a thank you, and/or pardon me all go a very long way.


  3. You sure have the challenge of traveling today described here. I have been a grumpy traveler myself at times (delayed, missed, overbooked flights with crying children) and I know that my own state of mind and stress seems to color my impression of those around me. When I can relax and not stress the small stuff, things seem to go better….as you said, those gentle kindnesses that we model for even our toddlers, saying please and think you, adding a smile go a long way to helping. Here’s to better travel ahead!

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  4. I have been so fortunate when traveling to mostly experience only kind airport and airline staff. I have been witness to very rude passengers though. I’m going to say the rude passenger usually comes first. I think you are right that it is this me first attitude coupled with needing instant gratification that sets travelers up for grumpiness. You just have to set yourself up for success with a go with the flow flexible attitude when traveling!

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    1. I think you are right about what/who comes first. But, unfortunately, I also think that some undeserving travelers are the receipient of the frustration and anger the airline/airport staff has towards other travelers who have been rude to them previously. It is unfortunate. I agree that you need to remain polite and flexible when traveling.

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