WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s no secret that the three words that strike the most fear in airline flight attendants are “West Palm Beach.”
Palm Beach International Airport is basically the Anbar Province of domestic air travel — the enemy is everywhere and they’re wearing civilian clothing.
In West Palm Beach, flights are full, passengers are cranky, and many who require wheelchairs for pre-boarding suddenly get healed during flights, allowing them to stride off the plane.
Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and founder of the group Travelers United, has called the La Guardia-Palm Beach International route “2 1 / 2 hours of pure hell” that tops his flights to avoid, even if it means flying in or out of Melbourne or Miami.
“On these trips, you'll often see cranky passengers berating flight attendants because the coffee isn’t warm enough or the cabin is a few degrees too cool for their liking …,” he wrote. “They focus on an easy target: the junior attendants who got stuck working the flight.”
That reputation took another beating over the weekend when the professionally exasperated Ann Coulter, a part-time Palm Beach resident, experienced a Twitter meltdown over a seat reassignment on a Delta flight from La Guardia to Palm Beach International.
“Hey Delta, if it was so important for the dachshund-legged woman to take my seat, she should have BOOKED THE SEAT IN ADVANCE. Like I did,” Coulter wrote.
Then the conservative pundit and author photographed the not-amused “dachshund-legged woman” and posted it to her 1.6 million Twitter followers.
Coulter had booked an aisle seat on Row 15 for the Saturday flight and she was told by a flight attendant to move to a window seat in the same row “to accommodate seating requests of several passengers,” the airline said.
She did, then continued to berate Delta and the flight crew in dozens of tweets over the next two days.
Here’s just a sample:
“Delta employee questionnaire: What is your ideal job: Prison guard? Animal handler? Stasi policeman? All of the above: HIRED!”
She called for Delta flight attendants to be replaced by robots. She suggested bringing home American troops from South Korea to use them against Delta Airlines. She wrote that Delta trains its flight attendants by replicating a Yale shock-treatment experiment that explained how Germans carried out the Holocaust.
She even wrote, “Immigrants take American jobs (and seats on Delta).”
The airline offered her $30 for the seat switch and answered her tweets a day later:
“We are sorry that the customer did not receive the seat she reserved and paid for,” the airline statement read. “More importantly, we are disappointed that the customer has chosen to publicly attack our employees and other customers by posting derogatory and slanderous comments and photos in social media.
“Her actions are unnecessary and unacceptable.”
Coulter responded by saying that Delta’s customer relations is being run by SJWs – an acronym for Social Justice Warriors, which is a pejorative handle used by political conservatives to mock feminists, liberals, environmentalists, academics, black activists and so called “snowflakes” who whine too much about injustice.
Which is a bizarre acronym to deploy by a person who has just devoted two days to whining about the social injustice of being moved from Seat 15-D to Seat 15-A on a commercial flight.
This is the same pundit who once declared, “I’m more of a man than any liberal.”
Just don’t give her a window seat. It’s apparently high-altitude water boarding.
I can understand why a long-legged person such as Coulter would prefer an aisle seat rather than a window seat, and that Delta might have made a better effort to make her happy when moving her seat before take-off.
But if a seating switch on a plane rates Holocaust references, I wonder what her sense of grievance would be if she were one of the tens of millions of people who stand to lose their health insurance due to a government plan that cuts more comprehensive care to the poor in order to create a financial windfall to those in Coulter’s tax bracket.
What’s the greater injustice? Losing a loved one to untreated cancer, or losing an inch or two of legroom in coach? Tough call.
The only thing that’s clear is that Coulter has become just the sort of West Palm Beach traveler who will continue to polish our reputation as the hellish center of American air travel.
Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.