In case you haven’t been on social media or reading lightweight news this weekend, you should be informed that Ann Coulter had a problem on a Delta flight.
Some news reports suggest she was bumped from the flight altogether, and others say she was forced to change seats when she had her heart set on the extra leg room seat she reserved. We don’t know the details, but someone should investigate her claim that the wi-fi wasn’t working.
Joking aside, the issue isn’t that a self-important news commentator has the proverbial bee in her bonnet. She’s usually that way. I’ll admit I gloated when I read about the incident, and I shouldn’t have. I don’t like Ann Coulter, but that isn’t the point.
If Ms. Coulter was singled out by Delta employees because they feel the same way about her as I do, this was an act of professional misconduct. However, if she was ordered to exchange seats with another passenger for legitimate reasons, she owes the airline — and the other passenger, whose photo she posted online — an apology.
It isn’t out of the question that the passenger who was given Ms. Coulter’s seat was moved out of an exit row. Before takeoff, passengers in those rows are warned that if they lack the upper body strength to remove the emergency door ( which weighs approximately fifty pounds, so most of us can’t handle it well), they should notify the cabin crew so they can be moved.
This scenario about the exit row is just speculation on my part. However, if a passenger on a fully booked flight is moved under those conditions, it’s possible the cabin crew will use an electronic device to choose a seat at random for the exchange. The only real problem with that is if the passenger who is imposed upon ends up with a less comfortable seat and isn’t compensated. Did that happen to Ann Coulter? Maybe, maybe not.
Every passenger should be guaranteed a certain degree of privacy. We don’t know the woman whom Ms. Coulter publicly shamed in her photograph, and it’s none of our concern whether she can lift fifty pounds. We don’t know if the emergency exit row was even an issue.
Many years ago, I was asked — not ordered — to exchange seats on a flight. It was no big deal, and I agreed to it without hesitation. A couple had boarded with two babies, and the way they were situated on the aircraft there weren’t enough oxygen masks to go around. There were no emergencies during the trip from SFO to JFK, but personally I was grateful the flight attendant was astute enough to notice the potential for trouble. It should be noted that I was moved to a seat which made it more difficult to see the movie screen, but that was okay because they were just showing The Client. In the end, I saved four dollars by skipping the movie, so I felt privileged.
We may never get an accurate explanation for the Ann Coulter incident, especially if the seat change decision had something to do with another passenger’s private information. Some of Ann Coulter’s admirers will boycott Delta, as long as they can’t find other airlines to fly in the slots they need. On the other hand, people who dislike Ms. Coulter may go out of their way to book on that airline. How does that produce anything good?