Many people enjoy engaging in intellectual and spirited political debates. Open, honest and fair communication, where both sides actively listen to each other, isn’t only healthy but often bridges differences of opinions that lead to real solutions and better relations.
While free speech is protected under the Constitution, there are appropriate forums for engaging in this type of productive dialogue, and there are inappropriate ones. And while an airplane, with its mix of people, might seem a good place, it might not be the right venue.
In the tightly contained space of an airplane, often these political discussions turn ugly as opposed to productive. And free speech doesn’t allow for blatant bullying of people or the right of one individual to verbally force their opinion on another.
So given the consequences of talking politics with the stranger in the next seat, the risk might not be worth it. In the same way airline passengers are made aware of the risks of traveling without trip insurance, they must also be made aware of the risks of talking politics on any flight.
Once a plane backs away from the terminal, passengers no longer have the option to freely exit the aircraft. The flight is happening. Therefore, if two passengers are having a political altercation, one or both of them cannot get up and walk away from the other like they could if they were in another public space. Even the shortest flight won’t be fun or comfortable for these passengers sitting in such close quarters. And if the plane is full, there’s no guarantee the airline can move either one of them.
Worse than enduring a tension filled flight is to be booted from the flight before it even takes off. If a passenger starts a political argument with their seatmate and the plane hasn’t yet departed the terminal, they run the risk that the airline could remove them from the plane. And what happens next is anyone’s guess. The airline may put the passenger on another flight, but they may charge the passenger for another ticket. And in that situation, travel insurance may not cover the additional cost.
While trip insurance is a must-have for travelers, travel insurance functions on the premise that travelers are behaving respectfully and responsibly. And starting a political war of words on an airplane isn’t respectful or responsible behavior.