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flying

Courtesy of Molly Simonson Lee

Flight attendant sits on floor to comfort passenger

Not everyone enjoys flying. The level of non-enjoyment can range from mild discomfort to full blown Aerophobia, which is defined as an extreme fear of flying. While flying is the quickest way to get to far away destinations, for some people being that far off the ground is terrifying and they'd rather take their chances on the ground.

A passenger flying from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina to JFK International Airport in New York confronted that fear while flying with Delta. The woman, who is currently still unidentified expressed that she was nervous to fly according to Molly Simonson Lee, a passenger seated behind the woman who witnessed the encounter. Tight spaces don't make for much privacy, but in this case, the world is better for knowing this took place.



According to Lee, who posted about the exchange on Facebook, the Delta flight attendant, Floyd Dean-Shannon, took his time to give the nervous traveler his undivided attention. Lee told Upworthy the unidentified passenger, "was very nervous and even before the plane took off, she was visibly shaken by each sound."

Approximately 25 million people in the United States have Aerophobia according to the Clevland Clinic and most of them probably wish Dean-Shannon was on their flights. "He took notice and began explaining what each [sound] was, with the warmest, calmest tone," Lee said. That wasn't even the most amazingly sweet part of the story.

While the explanation of noises helped, Lee said about halfway through the flight the passenger was fighting back tears, which prompted Dean-Shannon to sit on the floor and hold the frightened passenger's hand. He comforted her for the rest of the flight while sitting on the floor. "His tone was so kind and soothing," according to Lee.

Dean-Shannon's kindness didn't stop there. Lee explained, "the woman next to me was celebrating a birthday and he sang to her and made her a 'cake' with all of the goodies he could round up."

I'm not sure what Delta pays him but he needs a raise immediately and it seems the people of the interwebs agree.

Commenter, Miranda Anderson, tagged Delta Airlines and wrote, "I hope you see this! These are the types of people that deserve raises and make your company worth flying with. This is what pits [sic] you above the others so show these employees this is what you want and what you need."

"I love this. This is what society is lacking. Empathy and kindness towards people in time[s] of need" wrote Diane Lawrence.

While Mary Beth Acker Ford, said, "I was on a flight with him today. He exudes joy and is intentional about making a connection with each person!"

This level of engagement with passengers is not a common experience but clearly people are happy to see this type of connection between humans. Flying anywhere can be stressful for any amount of reasons. From leaving the house late and having to participate in an involuntary 5k to catch your flight, to making your way through the devil's backyard, also known as Atlanta International Airport...just for them to change your gate 10 minutes before boarding.

So having a flight attendant like Dean-Shannon is just the breath of fresh air people need. "The way he's looking at her...letting her know she's safe!!! This is just one of the many reasons I will always fly Delta Air Lines," Liz Martin wrote in the comments.

"It was obvious he is just a good, kind soul who shares that generously with everyone he encounters. Such kindness is rare and a true gift when encountered," Lee remarked. That level of kindness is rare indeed and we sure are happy someone thought to capture it.


This article originally appeared on 01.19.23

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

A flight attendant makes the safety demonstration highly entertaining.

Most of us who fly on commercial airlines with any regularity at all have heard the preflight safety presentation so many times we tune it out. Emergency exits forward and back, seat cushions act as flotation devices, put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others, and so on. Once you've heard it a couple of times, you feel like you've got it down.

However, we've seen evidence that most people actually don't have it down. In 2018, a Southwest flight had an emergency midflight and passengers were asked to put on their oxygen masks. Photos from the flight showed that the majority of passengers put them on incorrectly, indicating that people actually do need to be paying attention to the flight crew's standard safety spiel.

Let's face it, though. Even most flight attendants appear to be robotically going through the motions in those presentations, and who can blame them? They have to do the same thing over and over hundreds if not thousands of times.


But occasionally a flight attendant comes along and breathes new life into the routine with some unexpected humor and flair.

Case in point: A WestJet flight attendant whose physical comedy was nearly impossible to ignore. Watch how he makes a standard safety demonstration into a hilarious comedy routine:

According to Narcity, the flight attendant's name is Michael McAdam and videos of his hilarious safety presentations have been circulating since at least 2011.

Here's a longer version of the above video. This is a guy who truly makes the most of his job.

While McAdam's dramatic antics are entertaining, they could actually make passengers on his flights safer if an emergency actually happened. Instead of zoning out while he demonstrated the aircraft's safety features, people were giving him their rapt attention. Who's going to forget his goofy face when he pulls on the straps of the oxygen mask? Humor is a clever way to get people to actually tune in, which may make it easier for people to remember what to do in case of an actual emergency.

Getting passengers to laugh is also a wise way to influence the overall emotional tenor of the flight. Travel can be stressful, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to passengers' stress levels. Setting a light, jovial tone at the beginning of a flight and getting everyone's feel-good chemicals flowing with some collective laughter might preemptively fend off conflict between cranky flyers or conflicts with crew members.

Finally, some people are very nervous to fly. Hurtling through the sky at 500 mph with nothing between you and the Earth 30,000 feet below you but few layers of sheet metal and a fairly uncomfortable chair can do that to a person. Having a flight attendant put on a mini comedy show might put them at ease, lessening the likelihood of panic setting in as the crew explains what to do in an emergency.

While we can't expect all flight attendants to be this entertaining, it is a treat when you get a funny one. Thanks, Mr. McAdam for giving us all a good giggle.

Image via Pixabay.

Airlines pack the passengers together.

On May 14, 2018, one of Savannah Phillips' most dreaded flying fears came to life.

"I’m not the biggest person on the airplane, but I’m not the smallest," Phillips explained in a Facebook post. "My worst nightmare is someone being uncomfortable because they have to sit next to me."

Fearful of the harassment and even threats people with bigger bodies can face while flying, Phillips usually tries to buy a seat where she's not sitting next to another passenger.


But on a flight from Oklahoma to Chicago, Phillips was assigned a seat at the gate and wasn't able to sit alone. Unfortunately, the man who ended up next to her embodied the very worst.

"I can't believe this, I'm sitting next to a smelly fatty."

Those were the words the stranger, an older man who claimed to be a comedian, texted someone else — while sitting right next to Phillips on the plane. A setting on the man's phone enlarged the text, according to Phillips, and the screen's brightness was turned all the way up.

It was unmistakably about her.

obesity, decorum, strangers, heroes, airline tickets

​Phillips describes her experience during an interview.

Image pulled from News Channel 5/Youtube.

The nasty comment immediately brought Phillips to tears.

"I don’t even know what the rest of his text said," she wrote in her post. "I turned my head away as fast as I could. I was shocked and it was like confirmation of the negative things I think about myself on a daily basis."

Phillips continued:

"Before I knew it, I could feel hot, salty tears coming down my face. I sat and cried silently, hoping this guy didn’t try to make small talk, because I didn’t trust how I would react and I didn’t want to get kicked off the plane. I was so hurt. The pilot came over head and said there would be a 30-minute delay before he could take off — great. Just more time I would have to sit next to this creep."

Fortunately, that's when things took a turn for the (much, much) better.

Fellow passenger Chase Irwin sitting nearby had spotted the incredibly hurtful text and decided to step in.

He couldn't believe what he was witnessing.

"I actually got really sick to my stomach," Irwin explained to News Channel 5.

new, health, air travel, bullying, community

Irwin describes the uncomfortable situation on the news program.

Image via News Channel 5/Youtube.

Irwin tapped the "comedian" on the shoulder and demanded he change seats with him, according to Phillips. The "comedian" agreed to switch, but then asked why.

Irwin did not hold back. "I said, 'because you're a heartless person,'" Irwin recalled. "I read your text, and the girl next to you crying also read your text. And you should really take into consideration other people's feelings.'"

I am only sharing this story of what happened to me today in hopes that the person who stuck up for me will somehow be...
Posted by Savannah Phillips on Monday, May 14, 2018

Phillips and Irwin got along great, chatting about their families and jobs on the flight to Chicago. The flight attendant, who learned about what happened, kept trying to give Irwin free drinks and said that he was her hero, according to Phillips.

"He wasn’t her hero," Phillips wrote. "He was mine."

Fortunately, Phillips' story had a happy ending. But for passengers with bigger bodies, that's not always the case.

"Flying while fat" can truly be a daunting affair. There's the staring, the rude comments — not to mention navigating a patchwork of guidelines that complicate purchasing a ticket for an increasingly small seat on a plane.

But as Irwin showed, employing some basic empathy for your fellow passengers can go a long way. We should all keep that in mind when we travel.

Watch News Channel 5's segment on Phillips' story below:




Video footage of police officers dragging a screaming man off a United Airlines flight after he refused to give up his seat is sparking outrage and raising questions.

The man was randomly selected by the airline's computer system to be removed from the Louisville, Kentucky-bound aircraft to make room for United employees who were attempting to catch a connecting flight.

Passengers were reportedly offered $800 to disembark and be rebooked on a flight the next day, but no one accepted the offer.


The incident was captured on video, which ricocheted across social media.

United says the passenger was asked several times to leave the plane before the police stepped in to remove him.

"Our team worked as much as possible to have him deplane without having to involve law enforcement," a United spokesperson told Upworthy.

Bystanders' ability and willingness to record confrontations with authorities on their smartphones has changed the way we perceive and talk about events like these.

More importantly, these recordings force us to confront critical issues like:

1. Do police try to de-escalate situations like this? Or are they simply in the business of applying force?

The airline declined to provide detail on how the removal took place, referring questions to law enforcement. According to witnesses, however, the man went limp as officers pulled him down the aisle, suggesting the impact had perhaps knocked him out.

Later, the same witnesses reported, the man re-boarded the plane bloodied and apparently dazed — though the Chicago Police Department maintained, in a statement, that the police were called after the "passenger in question began yelling to voice his displeasure" and was taken to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries. The question remains: What, if any, steps were taken to tone down the situation before the police resorted to physical force?

How many airline passengers would have known they are at risk of being forcibly removed from a plane for not giving up their seats on request, if not for this video?

2. Should airlines even be able to overbook flights and boot passengers from flights they've paid for?

United says it followed Department of Transportation procedures for removing the passenger.

Furthermore, United's contract of carriage states that it has the right deny any passenger the right to board a flight if it is oversold. But how does that apply to customers who have already boarded the flight?

Airlines have pretty broad authority to boot passengers for safety reasons, but if you've paid for a ticket on a certain flight at a certain time, why should the airline have the right to remove you once you've already boarded? Let alone to make room for its own employees?

These recordings raise the question: When push comes to shove, what rights should airline passengers have?

3. Why are there rules restricting how much money airlines can offer people to give up their seats?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Federal law limits the amount of compensation airlines can offer to bumped passengers to $1,350 — an increase from the $800 limit prior to 2011, but still a cap. Apparently, United didn't go that high (their offer stopped at $800) before deciding to have police eject the passenger. But for enough money, could they have gotten someone to take the offer?

What's the purpose of setting a limit in the first place? Should airlines be able to offer passengers as much money as they want if they really need to clear the space? Wouldn't that be preferable to potentially forceful interactions with passengers?

We might not even know to wonder if this interaction hadn't been caught on tape.

A United representative says the airline is reaching out to the passenger to address the incident.

In the meantime, it's doubtful we'd be having this conversation at all if bystanders hadn't used the technology in their pockets to record the event as it was happening.

Right now, the recordings raise more questions than answers.

It's a good thing we have them.

Update 4/11/2017: This article has been updated to remove a video that is no longer available.