By Gordon Duff and Colonel Jim Hanke, Editors
Jimmie and his wife flew today from Arizona to Iceland for a fishing trip with other veterans. It is Colonel Hanke’s birthday today, not yet 80. The story begins with our flight, Delta Flight 470 from JFK New York to Iceland. Colonel Hanke, former G2 for Third Army and a retired NATO intelligence chief, early in his career headed the US Army HALO team. Colonel Hanke has over 2000 parachute jumps as a Ranger/Special Forces officer.
He also has a severely damaged hip caused by this and his service as an A Team leader in Vietnam. Jim Hanke is a disabled veteran.
The story begins on the ill fated flight from JFK. The cabin attendant in “steerage” was Wendy Satikas of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Colonel Hanke, still nearly 6’6″ in height and, as we had mentioned, severely disabled with an injured hip, had paid for an “extra leg room” seat. It seems Wendy didn’t like that and demanded Hanke move.
I fly with Jim often and without this kind of seating or when clients put us in the front of the plane, he is crippled for days.
Jim’s wife, Margo, was 5 rows ahead. They would have sat together except Delta couldn’t manage that. It is almost impossible to fly with family anymore on “cattle car” airlines like Delta.
You see, Wendy wanted Jim’s seat for someone else and threatened to have him arrested in Iceland if he refused to give up his seat to someone else. Her tone was abusive and loud. Also, what she had done was illegal. Some people just love abusing authority and the idea of giving flight attendants power has caused many a disaster in aircraft.
However, if you are flying in First Class it is different, so different, we don’t even want to talk about it. You actually get sane people, hand selected by airlines because of their mental stability. Not so with steerage.
Hanke remained polite despite the abuse and rage rained down on him by Wendy the Flight Attendant who cited endless regulations and anti-terrorism laws, all of which she simply made up. According to Wendy, Hanke had to sit by his wife because of a federal law demanding it. Now, of course, Jim would have wanted to do that in the first place and certainly tried to book the flight that way but Delta’s typical handling of aircraft seating makes that impossible.
One more than one occasion, when not flying First Class, I tried to book bulkhead or “extra leg room” seats, paying more to do so. Each time, they changed planes and the seats I booked were not what was paid for. They never return the money.
When flying Lufthansa or other airlines where I am known, airlines that keep passenger profiles, those of us of less than tender years and diplomatic standing are given some consideration. In return, of course, we return same as is only correct.
Others, however, think anyone stupid enough to book a flight with Delta need to be bullied and abused.
I wonder how Delta Airlines thinks of this?