There was a bit of controversy for United this past week over a soda can and a beer can.
Apparently, a woman on a flight was denied a can of unopened soda because she could use it as a weapon, but the man next to her was give an unopened can of beer.
Ahmad had been traveling to speak at a conference that was promoting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth in Washington DC.
While on her flight to DC on Friday, she requested an unopened can of diet soda, but was told by a flight attendant that it was against policy to give passengers unopened cans because these could be used as weapons.
The flight attendant then gave the man next to her an unopened can of beer prompting Ahmad’s calls of discrimination.
When Ahmad pointed out the passenger next to her had an unopened can, the flight attendant opened the can of beer.
The flight was operated by Shuttle America who said there was no rule against unopened cans of soda on the flight: “no differentiation in opened or unopened cans, and no policy speculating what may or may not be done with a container.”
But what has shocked me has been people’s reactions after the fact. There’s a lot of discussion over whether or not cans should be considered weapons. People have cited what they have and haven’t been given by flight attendants.
I’ve been given whole bottles of wine to read the label of while on a flight. But forget that. I’ve been allowed to bring my duty free bottles on board, and my old ridiculously huge work computer. Surely these, more so than any already-on-flight container, are closer to weapons.
Overall, I think this is a complete misunderstanding. The fellow passengers on board cited in the article are clearly out of line.
But in the hospitality business, I’ve definitely had to intervene when a member of the waitstaff gave a totally off-the-wall reason for a policy. I’ve also found in general, companies are good at explaining rules but aren’t very good at explaining reasons for the rules.
So individuals will start assuming the reasons and then applying it here. My guess is the flight attendant was told not to give out whole cans of soda. She/He, obviously, is allowed to give out whole cans of beer. She/He probably thought through the reasons why she/he wouldn’t be able to give out the cans of soda without tying it back to the beer.
And that’s how these types of situations happen.