Do You Know Who I Am
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Do You Know Who I Am? Who Cares?!?

ou have most likely encountered a particular type of person in your travels: someone who thinks he is so important and so entitled that the world needs to acquiesce to his every whim and demand while oblivious to the world around him. All this self-absorbed person cares about is having his needs met in any way possible and however necessary — even if it happens to be at the expense of other people.

When denied or confronted, the person angrily blurts out in frustration: “Do you know who I am?!?” — possibly followed by a conspicuous exhibit of an annoying yet entertaining display of behavior, consisting of such elements as shouting, stomping and angry “harrumphing” or — in egregious cases — almost knocking other passengers over just to secure what they believe is entitled to them.

The question Do You Know Who I Am? has become so engrained in the FlyerTalk vernacular that it goes by the acronym of DYKWIA.

Do You Know Who I Am? Examples

It is fairly easy to spot a DYKWIA out “in the wild”: Consider for your perusal the story of the passenger who lied to a flight attendant when she asked him to turn off his portable electronic device. Calling his bluff, she pressed the button on his device, which angered him as he responded ”I’ve never had anyone do this before. I’m Concierge Key and you should really be treating me better! Can you give me your card?”

I am surprised he asked — not demanded — for her to give him her card.

A DYKWIA can be female as well as male. For example, there was the woman who — in an attempt to protect her son who has a peanut allergy — became agitated with the captain of the aircraft who would request that those passengers seated within six surrounding rows of her son refrain from consuming peanuts, even though the policy of the airline is three surrounding rows.

Despite going above and beyond corporate policy, what the captain did was not good enough, as she demanded that the entire airplane to be free of peanuts. Her threats to the flight attendant supposedly almost caused a diversion of the flight itself.

Seat Assignments

Seat assignments can bring out the DYKWIA in people.

One woman who was assigned to a middle seat on an airplane was on the telephone complaining to an agent of the airline that “because of her status she is guaranteed a Premium seat”, according to FlyerTalk member AA-Flyer-SAN, who posted: “She is now demanding a voucher, refund, or miles for compensation. Now, I didn’t miss anything with all the changes did I? Or more specifically, does US offer this guarantee? I don’t know where she thinks this is available on AA because AA doesn’t offer such guarantees.”

In the case of a fellow passenger who wanted an additional seat empty and claimed to have paid for it, FlyerTalk member pvtwong requested seat 3J but was forced to move to seat 3D. The manifest showed that that other passenger did not pay for a second seat, to which she asked if pvtwong and the flight attendant “knew who she was because she was pretty important and that she needs both seats to do her work”, that she does not like to be disturbed, and that the data on her laptop computer is “very sensitive.”

I am not sure how she convinced anyone to be removed from his or her assigned seat, but — despite her rudeness — pvtwong decided to return in seat 3D for the remainder of the flight instead of fight for the coveted seat 3J.

What would you do if a fellow passenger encroaches upon your space aboard the aircraft where some of his massive stack of newspapers and magazines falls onto your lap with no apologies while proudly proclaiming his elite status?

Sometimes the seat on a bus can cause a person to supposedly behave so much like a DYKWIA that it can delay fellow passengers. An elderly woman in seat 1A refused to allow the bus in Argentina to move unless her faulty seat belt was repaired — and she refused to move to an empty seat, delaying the trip by more than an hour. Mounting anger from fellow passengers did not affect her at all.

One man apparently wanted an entire separate bus for himself, since he was denied an escort or “fast track” status for a flight to Glasgow.

How about the man who boarded an overcrowded train in Germany and demanded that the elderly woman sitting in an upgraded seat vacate the seat so that he can sit there? What would you have done if you witnessed this? Did the woman relent?

Never Too Young

You are apparently never too young to adapt the behavior of a DYKWIA, as exhibited by this young girl who purposely let the entire cabin of passengers know that she is regularly on flights between the United States and Australia and that “Mommy and Daddy are Global Services and are sitting in first class, so of course they’ll hold the plane for us!”

This man and woman had baggage — in more ways than one — which they did not want to check. They threw a fit while complaining that “It will get RUINED” and “I have never been treated this way on any airline, I’m writing a letter.”

Sometimes the very name of the frequent flier loyalty program can connote entitlement — such as the case of the woman who is assigned in the economy class cabin takes her baby to the lavatory in the premium class cabin before brazenly taking a seat in that cabin simply because she is “an Executive Club member.”

At an Airport Lounge

Access to an airport lounge can be one of the most frequent causes of the display of DYKWIA behavior — such as this person who attempted to enter an airport lounge without proper verification. He succeeded — primarily because the person behind the desk at the airport lounge apparently had had enough of him.

Once in the airport lounge, the DYKWIA behavior does not stop there. Give one of these people a telephone of any kind and all of the patrons in the airport lounge can listen in on the loud conversation.

Waiting in Line is Beneath a DYKWIA

The boarding process may arguably be another one of the most common ways to bring out the DYKWIA in a person who wants to board the aircraft as soon as possible — such as in this case in Orlando. How dare they announce that military personnel board the aircraft before this passenger with elite status and his wife?

The line at the security checkpoint at an airport is where “a few DYKWIA passengers couldn’t be bothered to join the back of the queue so went into the empty non-FastTrack lane at the gate.” FlyerTalk member rumbataz posted that “They were firmly told by the gate staff to go to the back of the FastTrack queue.”

He or She is Worth Millions of Dollars to the Airline

Don’t you just love when a DYKWIA uses statements such as how he “controls a $1 million airline contract with his company and unless he heard from Jeff Smisek personally he’d be taking his business to Delta” or “we are in the middle of negotiating a multi-million dollar agreement with AA and I’ll make sure my company knows about this!” in order to threaten his way to getting what he wants or needs — in this case, attempting to board early?

Yeah — that’ll do it. I am certain that the gate agent was unable to sleep later that night — although I have had some gate agents and telephone reservations agents tell me about how some people with extreme DYKWIA tendencies have actually caused them to cry while they were simply attempting to do their job.


Perhaps worse than a sober DYKWIA is an inebriated one. There is a video of one particular DYKWIA at an airport in Hong Kong in what FlyerTalk member CX HK considers the “worst case of DYKWIA” where a man launches into a profanity-laced tirade of sorts against an airline employee, demanding that he “fix” the situation which apparently resulted from irregular operations.

Not Above the Law

Beyond threats, behaving like a DYKWIA can go too far — such as in the case of a man who was arrested for pushing a gate agent against a wall after attempting to board early multiple times despite his claim that he was an elite member of the highest tier; a man who was arrested for refusing the orders of a flight attendant to turn off his mobile telephone; or when law enforcement officers used “stun guns” to control a drunk person believed to be a close relative of the king of Bahrain…

…and that “prince” was forced off of the aircraft shortly afterwards.

Are There People Who are Genuinely Justified in Being a DYKWIA?

Speaking of royalty, could one actually be justified in being a DYKWIA — such as when you are an elite member of the frequent flier loyalty program of an airline who is actually entitled to a benefit, amenity or service but does not receive it? Are you entitled to an upgrade or other special treatment simply because you are:

Unintended Consequences?

“Karma” can come back to strike a DYKWIA — such as when a man and his female companion cut in front of a line at the front desk of a hotel to check in when clothing flew everywhere once he picked up the handle of his luggage to transport to his hotel room.

Ongoing Discussions

There are ongoing discussions on FlyerTalk pertaining to DYKWIA people, including:


I am not disputing the validity of the issues with any of the above examples. However, behaving like a DYKWIA will most likely further exacerbate a situation rather than resolve it. I have said it before and will say it again: politeness and respect towards others goes a long way towards improving situations and resolving issues.

What do you do when you encounter a person who behaves like a DYKWIA? How do you react to his or her behavior? Do you admit to being a DYKWIA yourself — or, at least, dress like one? Do you strive to be a DYKWIA? Please share your experiences pertaining to those times when you witnessed a DYKWIA in action or have actually been confronted by one.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. When I was just out of college, I was working in a large retail store.

    One afternoon we had somebody at the customer services desk complaining about something. The discussion started to get heated as the customer was not getting their own way until of course the customer came out with “Do You Know Who I Am”

    The Assistant Manager who was dealing with this, did not miss a beat and reached for the microphone for the store PA system thus we all heard the following.


    Attention Shoppers. We appear to have a customer in store who has forgotten who he is. If anybody can help identify this individual, please can they report to the customer services desk at the front of the store!

    1. I have read and heard that one many times before, Mark Roddis — but I never tire of it.

      I wonder what would happen if a new twist were put on answering that question — perhaps in the realm of Who’s On First? as performed by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello:

      “Do you know who I am?”

      “Yes, that’s right.”

      “What are you talking about?”

      “No, we are talking about you. What is that customer over there?”


      “That is the other customer over on the other side.”

      “Who are you talking about?”

      “We are not talking about you now.”

      “What do you mean by that?”

      “What is one of the nicest customers by far. He is not mean at all.”

      I am starting to get carried away with this one. Please pardon me. Perhaps I should consider devoting an article to it…

  2. In college, I worked at a U.S. Passport Office (which I should really write about sometime). One thing that I always found interesting was that the people who were the rudest were nearly always rich, anonymous people. We had several celebrities come in (or at least local celebrities), and almost without fail they would be incredibly nice.

  3. I’m sorry to say that I really disagree with you. The behavior of US airline staff is so far beyond unacceptable most of the time, that passengers have little choice but to aggressively demand their rights.

    Passengers (even rude ones) did not create this situation. Airlines did by allowing their employees to treat most customers as though they were beneath contempt. If passengers need to assert themselves in ways that make others uncomfortable in order to be treated with courtesy and respect, the fault lies with our horrible US carriers for creating our current travel culture.

    A flight attendant or gate agent is an employee being paid to do a job, which I have paid in turn to have them do for me. The repeated and fundamental failure to understand this relationship is THE cornerstone problem with the industry–airline staff (FAs, gate agents, customer service reps) are people with little education who could not get better jobs…would you do it? Of course not. In that regard I can understand why they might be unhappy. But in my job, if I treated a customer the way I am routinely treated on Delta or AA (Alaska MIGHT be the exception), I would be fired immediately. As we know, not so with airline staff who are routinely rewarded for sticking it to customers.

    I honestly have to say I am assumed and sometimes even proud to see airline costomers demand reasonable service and that the airlines –and their agents–honor their own policies. Seeing A LOT MORE of this is the only way to change the culture of the worst service-oriented companies I our economy. If raising ones voice to demand respect from the most unprofessional class of service providers in our economy is troublesome to some, my opinion is that they are part of the problem.

    Tolerating terrible service, disrespect and discourtesy from airline staff is way more destructive then calling them out on it.

    Thank you for your perspective on this, even though I donlt share it.


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