Just days before Christmas, Ivanka Trump was accosted by a fellow JetBlue passenger who felt moved — no, the correct word is “entitled” — to dump on her his displeasure that her father, Donald Trump, had been elected president. The boor in question is an attorney named Dan Goldstein. His husband, college professor Matthew Lasner, tweeted the play-by-play as Goldstein ambushed the First Daughter-elect. Inside Edition’s story on the confrontation featured Lasner’s tweets. (You can watch the piece on YouTube).
“Ivanka and Jared at JFK flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them.”
“Ivanka and Jared on our flight. My husband expressed displeasure in a calm tone.”
“JetBlue staff overheard and they kicked us off the plane.”
Lasner posted a photo of Ivanka at the moment Goldstein got in her face, with a caption via Twitter, “Ivanka just before @JetBlue kicked us off our flight when a flt attendant overheard my husband expressing displeasure about flying w/ Trumps.”
After the incident, JetBlue released a statement which read in part, “If the crew determines that a customer is causing conflict on the aircraft, the customer will be asked to deplane. In this instance, our team worked to re-accommodate the party on the next available flight.”
Less than eight weeks before this surprise attack on Ivanka, Scott McCartney published a story in the Wall Street Journal on the rise of passengers’ bad behavior on commercial aircraft. These public displays of vulgarity include placing dirty shoes on clean seats, kicking, on purpose, the seat of the passenger in front of you, trimming fingernails and leaving the clippings on the floor, and, that perennial favorite, struggling to cram your carry-on into an already overloaded overhead bin.
One of McCartney’s sources is Dallas-area entrepreneur and frequent flyer, Nic Lesmeister. Naturally, he doesn’t condone the selfish “me first!” mentality of too many passengers he encounters in his travels, but Lesmeister thinks he understands why otherwise civilized human beings go into survival-of-the-fittest mode when they get on a plane.
The delayed departures, the crowds of travelers at the gate, the cramped seat with only 28 inches of legroom, all combine to elevate stress levels among some people, making them rude, pushy, and demanding. And sometimes, violent. In March 2016, a 54-year-old man from California throttled a woman who had reclined her seat. A jury found him guilty of misdemeanor assault.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva, Switzerland, tracks passengers behaving badly. According to IATA’s stats, in 2015 there were 10,854 cases of unruly conduct on aircraft — that’s up a whopping 17 percent from 2014. McCartney did the math and found that translates to about 30 unpleasant incidents airline crew and staff have to deal with everyday. The good news is that only 11 percent of these incidents involved passengers damaging the plane or getting physical with one another or one of the flight attendants.
According to IATA spokesman Chris Goater, the situation is only getting worse. A study written by Ryan Meldrum of Florida International University and published in the September 2016 issue of the Social Science Journal reported that about 25 percent of churlish incidents on a plane are caused by travelers who had a few too many at an airport bar, or took some type of narcotic before boarding. That means that 75 percent of these sorry cases are the work of perfectly sober individuals.
What are the demographics of individuals most likely to perpetrate an outrage on a plane? Meldrum’s study finds that the culprits tend to be men, and people who rarely travel by plane, and the aggressively self-centered. Meldrum argues that contemporary conditions on airplanes “may deplete self-control reservoirs” of individuals who, under even the best of circumstances, find it tough to keep their inner angry monkey in check.
As for Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared, their three children, and other members of the Trump clan, according to TMZ — the most reliable of celebrity news sites — from now on they’ll be flying on a private jet. As for Dan Goldstein, who’s the next Kid of a President in his crosshairs? Maybe Caroline Kennedy? He can denounce her for having a father who was an incorrigible skirt-chaser and a mother who was a chain-smoking clothes horse.