Heathrow Airport in London seemed like a blur because the delayed departure of our flight from Nairobi had reduced our layover time. But Dr. Susan Hughmanick’s encounter with a United Airlines flight attendant only minutes into our final, London-to-San Francisco leg left us in no doubt that we had put African courtesies behind us once and for all.
First, the attendant ignored Susan’s request to inspect the overhead fan blowing cold air into her face. So Susan asked one of our young volunteers who happened to pass by, Alex Foy, to see if he could figure out the problem with the fan. As Alex paused to look, the attendant snapped at him to move out of the way and Susan said Alex was only trying to help her.
“If you disobey my instructions or argue with me again, I’ll have the air marshal take you into custody,” the attendant told Susan.
When Susan asked to see the attendant’s identification badge, the woman spun on her heels and stalked away.
Goodbye, Africa!—Don Stoll