Delta Airlines Passenger Behind Viral Video: I’m ‘Totally Caught Off Guard’ By How Fast It Spread

This is a story about how quickly things spread in the digital age--and once again, how long-lasting reputations can be made in otherwise unmemorable minutes.

The Delta Airlines passenger who shot a quick, 45-second video of another passenger's outburst, and then put it on her personal Facebook page, said Saturday she's been completely surprised at how quickly it went viral, and how far it spread.

And, she said she feels sorry for the woman in the video, who was later identified in news reports and who has reportedly been put on leave from her job in state government as a result of the incident.

"I kind of feel bad for this lady. I don't know her story, she doesn't know mine. It might have been a misunderstanding. I was sharing [the video] for family members, and it started going crazy," the passenger who shot the video, Marissa Rundell, told me.

Rundell and I spoke after my original article about this incident was published.

Rundell, 19, said she had been traveling with her eight-month-old son to visit her brother in Brooklyn, and was returning home on a Delta Airlines flight from JFK to Syracuse on Feb. 6.

Her entire interaction with the woman in the video, identified in other news reports at Susan Peirez, lasted no more than two minutes.

"Before the video [starts], she was the last person on the fight," Rundell said, "and she came back and started swearing about being in the back of the plane. I said, please don't use that language in front of my son, and she didn't even recognize I was there. She started swearing again."

Rundell said she asked the woman again not to talk like that in front of her son, and that the woman replied, "Shut up and shove it."

At that point a flight attendant stepped in, and Rundell started recording on her phone.

The woman later identified as Peirez is shown in the video saying that she works for the governor, and warning the flight attendant that she "might not have a job tomorrow."

In its aftermath, Peirez was reportedly put on leave from her $95,000-a-year job at the N.Y. State Council on the Arts. (I've reached out to Peirez via Facebook for comment; here's my contact form in case she reads this and didn't get that message.)

As for the video, Rundell said: "I posted it before we even took off. I thought, my family's going to want to see this. By the time we landed my entire family had seen it."

Three days passed without much comment, but on Feb. 9, she said she started to hear from strangers--both Facebook users who'd seen it shared, and eventually reporters. 

"I don't [often] post really anything," on Facebook, Rundell added. "This was a one-time thing and it happened. ... I totally was caught off guard with everyone who has been watching it. I didn't even realize that many people could see what I was posting."
 

Delta Passenger Who Threatened Flight Attendant’s Job On Video Might Be Losing Her Own

Let this be a lesson. Nobody is ever truly anonymous anymore--and your worst, unguarded moments can wind up defining you for life.

You probably saw the start of this story earlier this week:

A Delta Airlines passenger was caught on video ranting aboard a flight before it took off from JFK, and warning a flight attendant who intervened that she might soon be out of a job.

Now it's the Delta passenger herself who might be out of a job.

News reports identified her as Susan Peirez. At the start of the video (embedded below), she sure sounds like she's warning: "I work for the governor."

That comment comes after she was allegedly "screaming" at another passenger and that woman's baby--but before she warns the flight attendant, who gives her name as Tabitha: "Thank you, Tabitha. You may not have a job tomorrow."

Days later, it's Peirez, assuming she's been correctly identified, who has been put on leave from her $95,000-a-year job as a program director at the N.Y. Council on the Arts.

"We were notified of this situation and have commenced an investigation," a state spokesperson told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. "This employee has been removed from the office and placed on leave until further notice and until the inquiry is resolved."

Marissa Rundell, the mom who taped the interaction and posted the video on Facebook (where it has 1.6 million views so far), told the newspaper that the woman (Peirez) swore loudly before the video started, and that she was ultimately kicked off the plane.

Rundell said the woman was the last to originally board the plane and used a series of expletives when realizing her seat was in the back of the aircraft, leading Rundell to twice ask the woman not to use coarse language around her son.

The second time, the woman heard her and told her to shut up, according to Rundell, a Mary Kay consultant and cheerleading coach.

"I started recording right after that," she said.

Rundell praised the flight attendant, saying she "couldn't have handled it any better."

But Rundell--like many of us watching this story--reacted with mixed feelings to the latest news about Peirez's repercussions.

"I feel bad because of it, because I know it's because I posted that video," Rundell said. "A part of me feels like she's getting what she deserved. And then another part of me just feels bad that it's happening, because I don't know her story."

Indeed. There's no doubt that it's an ugly interaction, but seriously, who among us hasn't behaved badly once or twice in life?

We have no idea who Peirez really is: whether she's normally an incredibly nice person who was having a horrible day and reacted badly, or whether that's how she normally acts.

But I guess this is how it's just going to be now.

We all risk being judged by our worst moments--and not just in the fleeting moment and by those who witnessed it firsthand, but by the entire world, and potentially for years.

At this point, Peirez has been featured prominently in conservative outlets like Fox News and The Daily Mail. (It probably doesn't help her that she works for a Democratic governor.)

I guess it's like mom used to always say: Be on your best behavior. By the way, I've reached out to both Rundell and Peirez via Facebook. If either of them responds further, I'll update this column.
 

Want to Take the Stress Out of Business Travel? Here’s How to Prepare

Over the last year, I've flown more than 100,000 miles. You could say I'm an expert traveler.

From changing time zones, to overcoming a language barrier, it took time for me to learn how to conquer cross-office, cross-hemisphere travel. With half of my company's staff in New York and the other in Russia, mastering international travel became mandatory

Here are the essential tips that help me get from Point A to (a very distant) Point B.

Disrupt your sleep.

Switching time zones takes a toll on the body, so getting ahead of your sleep cycle's inevitable disruption is key.

Go to bed a little later, or a little earlier based on your travel. Before traveling from New York to Russia, I try to stay up as late as I can, giving myself a horrible night's sleep -- but priming myself to be exhausted once I board the flight.

If I still have trouble passing out once I'm boarded, I sometimes opt for liquid melatonin, a natural sleep aid. But find what works for you, and be sure to have it handy.

Don't waste anyone's time -- especially your own.

Two weeks before my trip, I send invitations to everyone I want to meet with, including agendas of what I want to discuss. I have goals for those individual meetings, and for the trip as a whole.

Setting your calendar in advance offers other benefits. If you know when and with whom you are meeting, it gives you a better idea of what to pack. When deciding what to bring, I go through every day's flow of meetings and events to decide how casual or formal to dress.

Having a schedule with all those details will eliminate likelihood of forgetting to pack something important.

Boost your immune system.

Building your immune system ahead of time can reduce the effects of jumping time zones and breathing in recycled plane air. Load up on that Vitamin C. I start a vitamin regimen three days before my trip, and keep it going until I return.

Also, over pack your medicine. I always travel with, basically, a full medicine cabinet. Never take it for granted that you'll be able to find what you need -- and even if you can, you may not know how to read something, or be able to verbally ask someone for assistance. 

Google Translate is helpful when it comes to the language barrier. But it can't solve everything.

Download the day before.

The day before you leave, start downloading all your files. Not just entertainment like podcasts or movies, but also any cloud files that you may need during the flight.

In my case, streaming entertainment in Russia isn't always possible, so I download those before my flight. I tend to operate with an old-school rule: Never assume that you'll have internet access everywhere.

Take a pass on the sugar and salt.

Before getting on a plane, avoid anything carbonated or salty. Stay away from foods that make your body feel sluggish.

It's not always possible -- or practical -- to pack food from home. But a worthwhile solution I've found: Stocking up on fresh foods from dining options in the airport.

Even five years ago, airport dining options were basically soda, candy and bags of chips. But now I have no problem finding a fruit salad, yogurt parfait or other relatively healthy options.

Couple eating well with a quick morning workout once you've arrived at your destination, and you should be alert and primed for the day ahead.

Prepare like it's 1999.

Here's another old-school tip: When a trip, or your time, really matters, skip booking through an online travel portal and use a travel agent instead.

Although it's much easier to book on your own online, booking with a travel agent gives you peace of mind throughout the entirety of your trip.

If you find yourself in an apocalyptic scenario and all flights get shut down, you're never going to be happy. But if you booked through an agent, finding new accommodations is as simple as making a phone call and having someone else sort through the mess for you.

There's nothing worse than being at the Denver airport (sorry, Denver) and, all of a sudden, there's a snowstorm. Every flight is canceled, so good luck getting home!

The ability to make one simple phone call and have things figured out is invaluable - it's one less thing to worry about when your plans have suddenly derailed while you're hundreds of miles from home.

United Airlines is Making Radical Changes To How You Board Its Planes (Are You Sure You’re Ready For This?)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

There are things that aren't the airlines' fault.

I know that, at least sometimes, it doesn't feel that way. 

But airlines are presented with limitations, some of which they can't overcome.

One of those limitations is the annoying habit of humanity to do things for no good reason.

For example, hanging around the boarding gate without any hope that they'll get on a plane within the next hour.

Airlines have tried all sorts of ways to ease boarding congestion.

Some say that the most successful is Southwest's numbering system, in which passengers are left to stand in a specific order.

It relies on an honor system and how many people are truly honorable?

For its part, United Airlines seems to have become frustrated with its current system of five chutes and hundreds of milling people.

So it's trying something new. Simplified lanes.

Did I detect an involuntary spasm within you, one that always occurs when a company offers simplicity?

Still, United says it's going to offer just two lanes.

Will it be asking passengers to fight their way through, in a Hunger (to Board) Games?

No, it's going to asking passengers to behave in a civilized manner.

The idea is that passengers should remain seated until their group is called.

Ah.

Oh. 

This is eminently sensible, but blessed with what may be an intractable problem. 

Passengers just won't sit down.

They're so anxious to get on the plane that they want to be the first in their group to pass through. 

They believe that hovering as close as possible to the gate allows them to achieve this.

Which leads to the usual clogged boarding area and its attendant chaos.

In any case, if they all just behave and sit, won't there be an unseemly rush as they all dig for victory?

"Fewer lines will create more space and easier access to the boarding door for customers exiting the plane from the previous flight and during pre-boarding," United says.

United is surely correct. In theory.

I'll be fascinated to see, though, whether passengers comply or become increasingly irritable.

Of course, it's possible that a sudden calm will descend, as passengers see the wisdom in waiting their turn.

It's also possible that people will one day always leave armrests to their fellow passengers, never carry large bags onto planes and never, ever pull out their laptops in Economy Class and elbow their fellow passengers in the ribs all through the flight.

United Airlines Passenger Films As Engine Falls Apart in Scary Flight to Hawaii

I've had some pretty scary flights over the years -- flying through thunderstorms, encountering violent clear-air turbulence, sudden wing dips on landing. But the good news is that the planes I've been on always seem to land in one piece.

That definitely wasn't the case for Erik Haddad, who flew from San Francisco to Honolulu on United Airlines flight 1175 yesterday. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, far from land, one of the plane's engines started to fall apart. More specifically, the engine cover fell off, leaving the engine itself exposed and shaking pretty violently.

When they noticed what was going on the flight crew made a call to Honolulu to prepare for an emergency landing. The good news for the passengers and crew is that the aircraft landed safely, with no injuries.

According to a United Airlines statement:

"United flight 1175 traveling to Honolulu from San Francisco landed safely after the pilots called for an emergency landing because of a loss of the engine cowling (the covering of the engine). Our pilots followed all necessary protocols to safely land the aircraft. The aircraft taxied to the gate and passengers deplaned normally."

I've been known to fly to Hawaii on occasion, and I'm personally glad I wasn't on that particular flight. Losing an engine -- or even just a piece of an engine -- is not something I want to experience anytime soon.

Delta Air Lines Employee Curses At Customer (Yes, While Customer is Filming Him)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

We can all get frazzled at times.

Our emotions get the better of us and our intelligence goes out off to get something to eat.

Still, you might wonder about the wisdom of a customer service employee cursing at a customer.

Especially when that customer service employee works for an airline.

In this case, Delta Air Lines.

Let's examine the evidence we have.

Ruhul Amin was traveling from Honolulu to Portland, Oregon.

KGW-TV reports that his Delta flight was twice delayed, so he was put on a Hawaiian Airlines flight.

His luggage, however, went on a Delta flight.

Amin, a scientist, went to pick up his luggage at Portland airport and, well, something seemed to go awry.

Relations between him and the two baggage agents were a touch south of Cape Town. 

So much so that the male Delta employee actually uttered: "You can take my f***ing picture if you want, you a**hole."

Ah.

[embedded content]

Worse, Amin posted more footage to his Facebook page.

This appears to show him trying to reasonable, while the baggage agents would prefer to dismiss him from their presence.

These days, passengers know that their cellphones are a powerful tool when they feel they're being wronged.

They also know that the very act of being filmed can provoke people into regrettable actions and reactions.

This baggage agent isn't the first airline employee to react in an imperfect manner when faced with a filming customer.

Who could forget the United Airlines employee who didn't take kindly to it and called the police?

Which these Delta employees also threaten to do too.

The problem, sometimes, is knowing what happened just before the filming began. 

What interactions may or may not have taken place for this unpleasant escalation of self-expression?

I contacted Delta to ask for its side, and will update, should I be graced with a reply.

KGW, though, reports that the baggage agent was suspended.

"The actions displayed by this employee do not in any way reflect the standard of customer service and professionalism we expect from our employees. This conduct is unacceptable and we have reached out directly to the customer and apologized," the airline said in a statement.

Amin says he was offered a $200 voucher.

And another airline manages to contrive a poor look in the public eye.

If you're in customer service and you know you're being filmed, you should also know that the film could be made public within seconds. 

And for a few rash moment, the price could be high.

United Airlines Just Revealed Which Flights Will Be Served By Its Most Uncomfortable Planes (Some Are Very Long)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Some people don't care what sort of plane will carry them when they fly.

I admit I'm not one of them.

A bigger plane, to me, is always better. Configuration matters, too.

More legroom and fewer seats surely don't hurt.

Recently, I wrote about how United Airlines has decided to shove an additional 21 seats into its Boeing 757-300 planes.

This brings the number up to 234. Yes, in a single-aisle plane. 

Mercy isn't a concept easily ingested by most airlines. Delta already uses this configuration. 

Still, should you wonder which routes might be affected by these over-populated planes, United has just updated its schedule.

As Routes Online reports, from June 2018 there will be 16 routes that will begin to be graced with these planes.

I wonder how many of these will make passengers ululate.

For example, San Francisco to Washington D.C. is a long schlep. The flight back can be around six hours. 

Would you really want to be in the Economy Class claustrophobia for that long?

How about LAX to Honolulu or Kona? That's more than five hours on the way back.

Then there's San Francisco to Honolulu and Kahului. And San Francisco to Orlando.  

These are long flights, ones that surely won't be improved by the presence of 21 additional humans.

Moreover, think about it from the Flight Attendants' point of view. 

I asked United whether slipping a lot more seats into the planes will come with, say, an extra Flight Attendant to look after those extra passengers.

I will update, should I hear.

I fear, though, that United's staff may simply be asked to do more work.

Just as the passengers will be asked to be more tolerant.