Wednesday, November 8, 2017

PTSD and Me

This story has a happy ending.  Read the follow-up post published Nov. 13, 2017

We boarded early, thanks to our Allegiant credit card perk, and placed our suitcase in the bin right overhead. My very anxious flyer husband had a moment of panic he didn’t need when he reached up to retrieve his book and couldn’t find our bag.  

The flight attendants had moved our suitcase to an overhead bin several rows back, according to the woman seated behind us.  They never told us. He found the case and moved it back over our seats only to have it moved again, without warning, and replaced with someone else’s bags by the same two flight attendants.  We watched them the second time.  

At neither time did they explain the move, or notify us that they were relocating the bag.  They just did it. There was no indication that the original location, the one right over our seat, was inappropriate - no sign, no verbal warning, nothing. 

Normally, that would have occasioned a grimace and a question.  But it was Monday, and the news was filled with yet another murderer with an oversized weapon and an undersized ego, this time killing people at prayer.  All those families living through TBG's nightmare, joining the club of survivors and their loved ones, crying on the screens in the airport, on the front pages of the newspapers, bringing my husband right back to the Emergency Room in January, 2011.

PTSD is a recurring visitor, set off by loud noises or young men in hoodies passing on the street.  Sometimes, the trigger is more obvious, like a mentally ill man with a gun he shouldn't have had shooting up people who were gathered together for a quintessentially American experience.  It inflames every nerve ending, heightens the fight-or-flight response, sends shivers and sweats up and down and all around the body.  It's no fun at all.  It's also very difficult to control.

And so, instead of passing it off with I can't believe they did that, he stewed.  He grumbled.  He clenched and unclenched his fists.  Calming down was not an option.  He was raw, and they were the target.  He said nothing, but he was pissed.  The flight attendants said nothing, either.

When it was time to serve drinks, these same two ignored our row, though they served the people in front, behind, and across the aisle.  They never asked if we would like anything. They just pushed away.   Our seat mate asked me to press the call button. One returned, snarled as she clicked off the dinging, heard the elderly lady’s request for a snack, snapped “We’ll be back,” and left without further service or comment.  

My seat mate was hungry and confused.  My husband was incensed.  I was a puddle of angst.  Were our reactions over the top?  Probably.  But we were in full PTSD mode, and were in no mood to be calm.

Eventually, the flight attendant returned and when my seatmate asked about being ignored, she retorted with “We had to move the cart."  

We love flying Allegiant. We do it all the time. We tell our friends that it’s worth the drive from Tucson to Mesa. We’ve never had anything but delightful, friendly, thoughtful service until now. Allegiant has a warm place in my heart, since it brings me to my grandchild in South Bend.  This experience, on that day, was anything but lovely.

Being ignored is unpleasant. Being dismissed is just rude.  If this had happened on the ground, in a restaurant, we’d have gotten up and left, after talking to the manager.  That was obviously not an option for us in the air.

A bit of courtesy retraining, reminding them that information is the most important currency when traveling, that consideration and thoughtfulness make for happy customers  seemed to be in order.  While safety is obviously their first and most important concern, polite treatment of paying customers is important, too.

And so I began to type.  Most of the verbiage in this post is from the email I wrote, letting my fingers carry off some of the steam pouring out of my ears.  I didn't send it.  Writing it was enough. I didn't want to explain that those of us in The Club that No One Wants to Join are viscerally affected when yet another mass shooting is on the news.  There was no way to convey that, while their service was atrocious, our reaction was over the top and yet completely understandable.

The world is a dangerous place.  Most of the time I can ignore that fact.  Most of the time I can go about the business of daily life, passing off the occasional bump in the road with my ongoing mantra - At least I am here to experience it.   But when the situation is exacerbated by real life events that echo our own trauma, all bets are off.

I still think that they should have told us that they were moving our suitcase.  I don't know that I needed to be peeved about it for a 4 hour flight.

PTSD..... the gift that keeps on giving.


  1. You really do need to let Allegiant know about this. Flying has become dreadful, and adding to the misery are attendants like you describe.

  2. That kind of flight attendant behavior would be upsetting to anyone. It seems passive aggressive and needlessly nasty. Flying is tough enough with the uncomfortable aspects without adding to it. I'd report it. It might explain some of the passenger attacks that supposedly were unprovoked. Report it for the next passenger's benefit who might not just sit and stew.

  3. Suzi, with all due respect, I have not been shot and I would have been livid if they had done this to us. And I would not have exercised the same self-control as you two did. You MUST report this to Allegiant right away, even if you do not want to send them every word of your angry not-sent email.

  4. See tomorrow's post! You three have made my day!

  5. What Laura said! Why on earth would they move your stuff without telling you? I would be really angry about that - although anymore if you get mad they throw you off the plane. That was just bush league behavior all the way around.


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