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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 15, 2010

Booting weirdos off planes great idea

By Lee Cataluna

About time Hawaiian Airlines started kicking jerks off the planes.

It's sad it took an act of attempted terrorism to do it.

Since the incident on a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas, every inflight anomaly has made the news, and last week two Hawaiian Airlines flights from the West Coast to Hawai'i had unscheduled landings to get a weirdo off the plane.

On a flight from Portland to Maui, a man wrote a stink note and gave it to a flight attendant. The rambling note talked about the plane crashing and getting marooned on Gilligan's Island.

A flight from Vegas made an unscheduled landing in LA after a guy got boozed up and started to hassle a lady next to him.

Those two picked a bad week to get stupid on a plane, when sensitivity was high and tolerance was close to zero.

People who live in Hawai'i might be more familiar with air travel than residents of any other state. From the fourth-grade volcano excursion to visiting college campuses to Grandma's birthday trip to Vegas, we get on planes a lot. We've seen the jerks. There's something about heading to Hawai'i, be it going home or coming on vacation, that makes some people come unhinged.

Oh, when you think of all the weirdos on flights you've had to contend with over the years, yeah? The stink guy who fell asleep on your shoulder 10 minutes into a seven-hour flight; the honeymoon couple next to you who couldn't wait to get to the hotel; the guy who snuck handfuls of the tiny booze bottles off the beverage cart and got real spooky the last two hours. On and on. Maybe some of the people who have vexed us haven't exactly risen to the level of "stop in LA and call the feds," but it would have been some comfort to think that was an option.

Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Keoni Wagner said the Christmas incident didn't lead to changes in the tolerance of unruly passengers. "Our existing procedures and training effectively cover the range of potential situations," he said. But it seems like they're enforcing those old rules a bit more briskly.

Of course, chances are this hyper-sensitivity is a phase that will pass. Remember when America was so terrified of anthrax in the mail that every trace of baby powder or chalk on an envelope merited calling the hazmat crew out to hose down the building?

But for the moment, while travelers are suffering through more screenings, heightened fear and being unable to get up to go to the bathroom the last hour of the flight, at least passengers can take heart that the jerk next to them might get kicked off the plane.