Aeroflot Is Cracking Down On Bad Behaviour Of Elite Flyers

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

It often seems there is little airlines won’t do to appease their elite, frequent flying passengers. There are good reasons for that -- these free-spending pax help keep airlines afloat. Delta, for example, once noted that 5% of its pax account for 26% of its revenue.

But just because they spend a lot, should they get away with bad behaviour? Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot doesn’t think so. Since the beginning of 2018, the SkyTeam alliance member has reported nine incidents of physical violence directed toward airline employees. A statement from the airline does not mince words about who is responsible:

“Closer scrutiny of these incidents has revealed that virtually all the disruptive passengers were elite-level participants in the Aeroflot Bonus loyalty program. A number of silver, gold and platinum Aeroflot Bonus card-holders consider it acceptable to treat the airline’s employees as second-class citizens, behaving not only rudely and aggressively but also in some cases resorting to violence.”

In response to the bad behavior, Aeroflot said it will begin revoking elite status and its associated perks from passengers who fail to adhere to the airline’s code of conduct. Once the status is revoked, all accrued miles will be null and void, and the offending passenger’s account will be permanently shuttered.

That Aeroflot found a correlation between status and bad behavior may come as a surprise to some. After all, a typical profile of a status passenger is a professional who travels often for business -- not a troublemaker who doesn’t know how to behave onboard.

However, a flight attendant who frequently contributes to online forum The Points Guy, isn’t surprised. She estimates that 70% of the confrontations between a passenger and crew member she’s observed happened in a premium cabin -- and that more than half involved “SuperStatus flyers.”

She writes: “I’ve been told to go f— myself because I had run out of a meal choice, heard a colleague called a horrendous homophobic slur for asking a passenger to get off her phone while we taxied to the runway, and had another colleague spit at for tripping over a passenger’s leg (that was dangling out in the aisle) and waking him up. I’ve even seen a mother throw a dirty diaper at a crew member because the crew member wouldn’t collect it from her without gloves. This behaviour is simply not acceptable.”

Russia, for its part, seems to be tackling badly-behaved passengers aggressively. In June of this year, legislation will go into effect allowing airlines to blacklist offenders and deny them future transportation. Aeroflot, by the looks of things, will have no trouble doing so.

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