Let me off this plane went to another level last Friday night.

I was flying with a friend from Greensboro to Atlanta. As we arrived at the airport we both received a phone call from the airline informing us our flight would be delayed from 6:15 to 7:35 due to weather.

No big deal. It gave us a chance to grab some dinner and debrief our day.

After our meal we decided to head to security and go on to the gate to wait for our delayed flight. As we were finishing the screening, an announcement was made on the intercom of the airport. “The doors are now closing on Flight ###. All passengers should now be boarded.”

You guessed it. Our delayed flight was now back on time.

Thankfully the airport was small enough for us to make it to the gate and persuade the agent to reopen the door and let us board the plane.

At least there was an agent, unlike yesterday’s blogpost. 

I recognized very quickly the flight would be a challenge. Everyone was scrambling on the plane, in a frenzy because of the delay turned to UN-delay.

My spot was on the aisle coupled with a window seat. Both seats were occupied by the same woman. I’ll leave it at that. She was large and loud.

Within 30 seconds of me sitting down, she pushed the call button for the flight attendant. At once a woman arrived and asked, “May I help you?”

Miss Seat-and-a-Half practically shouted, “Can you get us some Bloody Mary’s back here?”

I wasn’t sure who the us was, but I was praying she wasn’t referring to us, as in she and me (forgive the bad grammar – the flight really affected me).

The answer was an emphatic “No.”

Once the attendant headed back up the aisle toward first class, my new travel buddy went off. Profanity, complaining, and, I’m convinced, an effort to be intentionally loud describe the rest of our journey.

Once the beverages were served mid flight, a couple of alcoholic drinks for her only made things worse for me. By the time we landed in Atlanta we were all thinking, “Let me off this plane.”

Unfortunately, the weather had another plan. Because of the storms we were forced to sit on the tarmac near the terminal until the gates cleared. When I say sit, I mean sit. An hour and 22 minutes of torture for everyone in my section of the plane thanks to Miss Unruly.

With every passing minute she got louder and louder. After about 45 minutes it got to be almost comical, and she knew it.

She did everything she could to draw attention to herself, including at one point shouting, “I’m guessing there’s an air marshal on here who can hear me. If you’re thinking about arresting me, maybe it would be better to see if you can’t get that gate cleared and let us off this #@%* plane.” 

I’m not making this up.

While most roared with laughter, I wanted to crawl under the seat. Thanks to her legs there wasn’t room. And oh, did I mention the AC was shut down? The only air moving on that plane was hot and coming from my row.

The entire ordeal served as a case study in organizational behavior. Too often, teams are derailed because one person is allowed to behave in an unacceptable manner. Leaders refuse to confront and deal with obvious problems. Fear of conflict, dread of the consequences, and a lack of courage often cause leaders to look the other way.

From experience, I can tell you the longer you delay dealing with a situation that needs to be dealt with, the worse it will become.

Dysfunction in an organization will never repair itself. A leader is responsible for defusing problems and removing obstacles so his team can perform.

Great leaders establish and protect their team’s environment and culture. They never let one person ruin the flight for the entire group.

Do you have someone who needs to be escorted off your plane? I encourage you to deal with it sooner than later. If you refuse, you might have a lot of people on your team saying, “Let me off this plane.”

Leadership begins at home, 


Why do you think so many leaders allow dysfunction in their organization?

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