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By Andrea Peyser
January 13, 2017
Your eyes and ears were not deceiving you. That was Alfonse D’Amato caught on video, trying to whip up passengers into staging a whiny populist revolt against a beleaguered JetBlue flight crew, like an overage Norma Rae.
The plane, bound for JFK Airport from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was already delayed more than six hours Monday when the former Republican senator from New York turned into a cranky, insulting mess at the prospect of a further holdup. He was escorted off the plane by local law-enforcement officials.
“Stand up for what’s right and walk out with me,” D’Amato, 79, cried, in a wacky demonstration. “If you don’t, then what do you stand up for?”
Only one passenger was seen deplaning with him.
It was just the latest example of a growing phenomenon known as air rage. The epidemic started even before Alec Baldwin was booted from a New York-bound American Airlines jet in Los Angeles in 2011, after refusing to shut off his phone and erupting into an alleged walking, bathroom door-slamming temper tantrum.
New York Giants players on Sunday blew their first shot at the Super Bowl in five years with a crushing loss to the Green Bay Packers. Bummer. Then they allegedly took out their testosterone-fueled frustration on the Business-Class cabin of a United Airlines jet traveling from Wisconsin to Newark, NJ, passengers who boarded the aircraft afterward told The Post. The flyers said the players left in their wake a booze-scented ruin.
Mark Kropf, who boarded the Boeing 767-400 Monday for flight to London, tweeted — “the gate agent told us it was the Giants that destroyed the biz class cabin, and we saw service personnel walking countless seat cushions off the plane.’’
“Thanks @Giants for trashing this plane so badly it was delayed for 2hrs in a ‘clean up operation’ which meant I didn’t miss my connection!’’ British TV personality Sian Welby tweeted.
A team spokesman denies players befouled the aircraft. “It’s not true. It’s false,” he told The Post.
Whether amped up by long waits, diminishing legroom in coach, the scarcity of free peanuts or, as some contend, a gridiron spanking, air rage is spiraling out of control. Incidents involving unruly passengers numbered 10,854 worldwide in 2015, up 16 percent from a year earlier, according to the International Air Transport Association.
That compares with just 5,416 reports in 1997; 1,132 in 1994.
And while most incidents involve things such as passengers hurling verbal abuse or refusing to follow cabin-crew instructions, physical aggression toward staff members or fellow passengers, as well as damage to aircraft, was reported in 11 percent of cases.
Meanwhile, drunkenness was identified as a factor in just 23 percent. One thing is clear: Air rage costs the commercial airline industry potentially millions of dollars a year from delays and damage, which is bound to be passed onto already nickel-and-dimed consumers.
Last month, a would-be mile-high heckler described as appearing “agitated’’ harassed Ivanka Trump aboard a San Francisco-bound JetBlue flight, as it prepared to leave JFK carrying the incoming first daughter, her husband and three kids, who were on their way to Hawaii.
“He said ‘they ruin the country now they ruin our flight!’ ” a witness reported. Ill-mannered Daniel Jennings Goldstein of Brooklyn was escorted off the plane, leaving with his husband and young son.
Irate Al D’Amato’s spokesman issued a statement chalking up his show of pique to a long and arduous journey to visit an “ailing friend.’’
“JetBlue has apologized to the Senator for overreacting and the Senator apologized for speaking his mind at a time when he clearly had left his patience at the gate,’’ the statement concluded.
Maybe bad behavior is contagious. Post columnist Richard Johnson reported that D’Amato’s 50-year-old second wife, Katuria, was bounced from a Delta Air Lines flight heading from the Bahamas to New York on New Year’s Day after arguing with crew members. D’Amato, now a radio and TV political analyst and founder and managing director of a lobbying firm, remained on the airplane with the couple’s two kids.
Air rage will only get worse as security lines remain long, flying frills continue disappearing, and even overly entitled passengers learn that airline wage slaves won’t put up with nonsense. It’s time members of the flying public took deep breaths and enjoyed the rides.
And try not to go back to bullying people after landing.