How to Deal With Angry Clients / Passengers?

Have you ever come across passengers who are unhappy with their flight experience?

The issue may relate to something simple such as the meal they received or being seated next to someone they can’t tolerate?

Such incidents can be very stressful especially at 30,000 feet above ground level in an environment with there are less oxygen and more overcrowding.

This combination can easily escalate into verbal abuse or worse, physical fights.

Watch a video on active listening

Here are some tips on how to deal with angry passengers:

Keep calm

First things first, you need to remain calm yourself before as it is difficult not to feel affected by the passenger’s (unreasonable) demands or accusations of poor service.

If you start to feel angry yourself, the situation may escalate to another level.

Take a few deep breathes and deal it with in a professional level. Remind yourself NOT to take this criticism personally. If you feel that the situation is out of your control, do ask a colleague to help out.

Engage in active listening

Do pay attention and engage in active listening to the passenger’s complaint, no matter how unreasonable it may seem to you. Most people like to be heard and allowing them to vent their feelings, is the first step towards reconciliation. Here are 5 tips to improve your active listening:

a) Pay Attention

Look at the passenger while he/she is speaking to you and give non-verbal feedback to show that you are really listening. You need to show that you care what they have to say and that you really want to hear them out to help solve their problem

b) Withhold any Forms of Judgement

Let the passenger finish speaking and refrain from interrupting them. Avoid giving a personal opinion as the conflict may become less manageable

c) Paraphrase and Reflect Feelings

Repeat back what the passenger is saying to ensure that you and the passenger are on the same page. You can start by saying, ‘It seems to me that you are feeling xxxxx’ or ‘It sounds like you are xxxxx’ or ‘What I am hearing is xxxxx’. This feedback allows you to capture what they are actually feeling and reflecting it back makes them feel understood

d) Clarify

Instead of assuming what the passenger wants, learn to clarify. You can use open-ended questions like (what, where, when, who and why) to understand the exact situation

e) Summarise

Summarise the incident by repeating back what you have heard. This shows that you have taken the effort to listen and that you are genuine in wanting to help

Be thankful

Thank them for bringing up the issue to their attention and explain to them the next course of action that you will take to solve the problem.

By explaining the necessary steps you will be taking to address the issue, the passenger will feel that you have taken him/her seriously and should calm down while waiting for the solution

Seek support from your fellow colleagues or supervisor

It is OK to seek support when the situation is out of your control. Seek help and learn from your colleagues who may have had more experience in handling such situations. It is always good to give and receive moral support when working together as a team.

It is definitely not easy and stressful when it comes to dealing with angry passengers. Practise these few steps and you will be able to manage these passengers more effectively.

Good luck!


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