Airlines may be asked to crash planes to help reduce passenger stress

image Recently, a federal jury in Billings, Mont., awarded $1 million to a woman who said she suffers from post-traumatic stress after her Delta Airlines jet made an emergency landing in November of 2011.

The case gained attention because it opens the floodgate for other post-traumatic stress lawsuits, which includes anyone who has ever ridden in a taxi in downtown New York. Though I never suffered anything as severe as post-traumatic stress from my own NYC taxi experience, it was many weeks before I could free my mind from the terrifying image of my driver giving other drivers the bird with both hands as he navigated through Madison Avenue traffic using only his knees.

Even today, I’m sure that his back seat still has a perfect impression of my hands — in the form of a death grip — which he can use as a nice conversation piece.

If you think about it, most of us deal with potential post-traumatic situations on a daily basis without giving much thought to lawsuits.

Just this morning, for example, I filled the gas tank.

It’s a situation rife with post-traumatic stress potential, especially when you consider I’ll be reminded of that horrific experience in three weeks when my statement arrives.

Ever find yourself in a hurry opening a can of soup then a can of dog food, spoon both of them out, heat the soup, then realize as you’re eating that you don’t remember which of the two cans you measured the water with?

Though it’s the kind of thing that lingers on your mind, I have no plans to appear on the witness stand in the case of Ned vs Alpo.

It’s not that I’m trying to belittle how frightening the experience of an emergency landing must have been for the woman who sued Delta Airlines. I just happen to think the alternative — actually plummeting to the ground at 800 mph — would be much more stressful.

In fact, polls show that four out of five travelers actually prefer landing safely during an emergency than to crash landing in a non-emergency situation (It’s important to note that the fifth traveler who was asked happened to be a retired Kamikaze pilot).

The truth is, depending on your frame of mind, there are lots of things that we face every day that could be the catalyst for post-traumatic stress: the ingredients label on a package of hot dogs; that funny sound your car only makes on long trips; your teenagers; a carton full of eggs with rippled shells; your teenagers; beer caps that look like the twist-off kind but aren’t; your teenagers; having a surgeon whose last name is Thrasher, Flatline or Firstpatient — all of these are legitimate stress inducers.

If you have found any of this to be traumatic, I apologize.

If you’re still thinking about it tomorrow, that would be post-traumatic — and lawyers in Billings, Mont., would like to hear from you.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. His first book,Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: Even if you choose Ned’s book for summer reading, you should still use sunscreen.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

49 thoughts on “Airlines may be asked to crash planes to help reduce passenger stress”

  1. Where does one person’s responsibility end and another’s begin? Seriously! When, as a society, will we decide to grow up and learn how to take responsibility for our own emotions and feelings?? Too annoyed to be funny this time around. People who suffer from post traumatic stress had big time shit in their being that was merely activated by the trauma. The trauma brought out what was already simmering below. Otherwise every time I drive in Seattle traffic, I’d shoot every other idot who drives stupid near me instead of laughing at them and letting them go ahead so they can kill someone else.

    1. Funny or not, you said it perfectly Susan. I’m not sure when society adopted the “not my fault” attitude for everything, but it needs to stop. Especially if they are driving through Seattle 😉

  2. I actually am a lawyer and I think some of these types of suits aren’t terribly common-sensical. I read once where a guy attempted to sue Satan, on grounds that the Big Bad was putting obstacles in his path and whatnot. The judge properly dismissed the case, since the guy had failed to tell the U.S. marshal where to go in order to serve Satan with the lawsuit papers.

  3. Yeah, the building at the local hospital where I get my yearly mammogram is called the Payne Center. My boobs start hurting before I even walk in the door. What were they thinking?

  4. I hop on 5 to 10 airplanes/week. The only trauma I feel is the post-landing embarrassment of waking up on a stranger’s drool-soaked shoulder. I wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not.
    I’m soooo far behind on my reading. You know I still love you, Ned…right?!

    1. No worries, Michelle 😉 We’re like those friends who can pick up wherever they left off without ever missing a beat. Unless I was dancing…

      Oh, and thanks for the heads-up about your air-travel habits. If we’re ever next to each other on a plane, I’ll wear a burping pad 😉

      1. YES! So true, Ned!
        I’m looking forward to a stay-cation next week where I can pick right up…there may even be dancing involved. I hope you’ve had a great week! I have airplane stories from teh last couple of days to tell (3 hour power outage in Nashville with us stranded on the Tarmac)…but, I feel a nap coming on…

  5. I don’t know anything about this case. I’m willfully ignorant. But like a proper American, I still have an opinion about it: I disagree with the judgement. Whether or not the landing was necessary or paranoia, the airline, in making that choice, was putting the passengers best interest front and center. It’s very expensive to do that, and Delta lost money with that decision. But the passengers and crew didn’t lose their lives. Uncharacteristic to a corporation, they put lives over money. This stinks of Delta being punished for doing the right thing.

      1. You joke, yes, but these carried a tone that showed you disagreed with the lawsuit and the outcome. I didn’t hesitate to share my opinion because I felt I was in like company.

  6. Seriously?

    That’s the best I can do regarding the lawsuit. I reread it to see if she actually won it. Holy crap.

    That and a nice wet screen from reading someone calling you a cracker. That was unexpected.

      1. I grew up in the midwest and I actually used that a few times before someone corrected me 🙂
        p.s. I am also teaching my kid to drive, on stick

  7. You laugh but when I hauled gas they trained us in hazards, spills and fire suppression. Some of the training films showed cars exploding when fueling up at gas stations. $10, $20, $30, KABOOM! Apparently it was only happening to women with rubber soled shoes. Some would lock the fill nozzle open and then reach into their car to get their purse or money. They would pick up a static charge – the mortal enemy of gas handlers – and when they touched the nozzle again, the spark would ignite the fumes coming out of the tank and explode. There are a number of women killed each year in the US that way.

    So if you leave your purse in the car and are wearing rubber soled heels Ned – Don’t leave the nozzle and come back to it. Or if you are wearing your thong – that just goes without saying. Oh, and I’m sure you know this too – when filling plastic gas cans (for lawnmowers or ATV’s or generators, etc) never fill them in the car or truck – set them on the ground or you too could earn an all expenses paid trip to the space station.

    There, now you have enough info to scare you shitless and you can sue the gas companies for loss of sleep. 😀 PTSD -= Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (not to detract from anyone who suffers from the real PTSD acquired in the military or other hazardous situations)

    1. I read about the same thing happening with cell phones and, back in “the day” with people listening to their boom boxes while filling the tank…

      Maybe that’s why they’re called “boom” boxes?

  8. I had to use the washroom on a TransAtlantic THAT is cause for stress. I’m going to sue for post potty stress. This judge is an idiot. Maybe the airline will make Zanex and a shot of tequila mandatory to fly with them as a result of this. And blindfolds. And not just seat belts but full restraints so that he interior looks like a S&M chamber full of drugged out, blindfolded unconscious passengers who would be too traumatized by knowing they flew between destinations. Instead of flight attendants the airline can hire a nurses aid or a Dominatrix or a Nurse who IS a Dominatrix to save on overhead to administer drugs or correction for bad behavior as passengers require. Some people need to stay locked inside their houses and some people should not be a judge.

    1. *cracking up*
      It could be that the judge was in a hurry to dismiss the case so he could find investors for his new Dominatrix Airlines?

      Dominatrix Airlines: “Bring your baggage and let us take care of the rest.”

No one is watching, I swear...

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