I shared this with my friends, but I think people who travel need to know. I didn’t take pictures of what happened. I had to make a quick decision and take charge of a strange situation.
I was boarding my first flight leg from Budapest to Paris a few days ago. It was my first time on an Air France airline and was fascinated listening to people speaking that beautiful language. It was early in the morning after a full night of no sleep when the van to the airport almost caught on fire, miraculously avoided hitting a car twice, crawled on a freeway where two trucks were in a horrible accident and I almost gave up on catching my plane, while praying for quite a few hours.
Got on the plane victoriously and couldn’t wait to find my seat and try on dozing off.
I had bought a seat by the isle and I was placing my carryon in the luggage compartment when, Bang! The young lady standing next to me stomped her feet and yelled, “Everybody with this airline company is a thief!”
I looked at her and, with no comment, I sat down. The guy next to me raised his shoulders and lifted his eyebrows at the scene. Then, zvrrrr! A huge backpack flew an inch almost getting my head, banged into my neighbor’s shoulder and landed on the open seat next to him, by the window.
“I’m sorry, but you can’t act like this on a plane. Do you need help?” I asked, making room for her to squeeze to her spot. I was looking for a flight attendant. Nobody was there. By this time, the people around us were shaking their heads and whispering to each other.
“They stole my bag,” the angry lady yelled.
“Did you talk to the company?” I continued, genuinely trying to help her.
“They stole it.” When she said the word “stole” she banged with her foot on the chair in front of her, startling the passenger. That person looked back between the seats, but didn’t say anything.
Then I felt I had to take charge of the situation, if we wanted to be safe there.
I bent over to see the angry woman and I caught her eye.
“I’m sorry for your bag, but you can’t scare people on a plane. Tell me how can I help you?” I said out loud.
She waved her hand in the air. “It’s OK. I had only a bag of chips in that bag.”
I thought she had calmed down. I put my seatbelt on, ready to close my eyes, when I heard that Bang! again. The woman’s fists hit the chair the same time while her both feet stomped the floor. She yelled, “Thieves!” For a second I looked for somebody from the airline to come and do something, but nobody was in the sight. The guy between me and her leaned with his entire body on me. The passengers in front of us pulled their bodies from their backrest, clinging to the chairs in front of them.
Then I stood up and stretched my right arm towards her with my palm open.
“Stop this! Now!” I said firmly.
She was surprised. I used that moment to press on. “You stop it right now or you are in trouble.”
She turned her head to the window, put her earplugs and stayed like that for the next two hours when we got to Paris. The guy next to me patted my elbow, smirking.
I was content. The Antiterrorism class I took with the Department of Defense a while ago really helped. I know there is a risk when we take the lead, but when nobody else does, the evil prevails.
And I don’t want that.