One thing I haven’t heard any of us from flight 1348 or anyone else countering is the absurd claim from anyone speaking on behalf of American Airlines that “it was the weather.”

Of course it was the weather that caused the diversion to Austin. No one has ever taken issue with that.

But, and pardon my all-caps here, IT WAS NOT THE WEATHER that forced them to keep us in that plane on the tarmac for 8.5 hours. There’s only one excuse — incompetence. Someone, not some non-being or “act of god,” is to blame.

AA’s comments to the press are just flat-out manipulations of the truth, and frankly they belong in politics, not people’s lives.

55 comments on “It wasn't the weather

  • I sympathize with what happened, and I agree it’s deplorable. However, some of the things you’re suggesting don’t make sense.

    PASSENGERS BILL OF RIGHTS

    Their recommendations include:

    Establishing procedures for airlines to return passengers to a terminal gate after three hours on the tarmac.
    _____I couldn’t agree more. Leaving people on the tarmac is imprisonment._____

    Requiring airlines to respond to complaints within 24 hours and resolve them within two weeks.
    _____An airline business not owned by the governmnet should be allowed to ignore complaints just as any other business should. If enough customers don’t like it, their business will die. This has happened to me. I hated it and I dealt with it. That’s how it works. That’s American. What’s next, requiring them to smile?_____

    Forcing airlines to publish a list of chronically delayed flights online.
    _____Bah! Hotels don’t have to tell you if they’re booked, and airlines shouldn’t be required to post anything online (although I agree they ‘should’). This is America. They have the right to inconvenience you, but not lie to you.____

    Compensation for bumped passengers or passengers whose flights are delayed by more than 12 hours at 150 percent of the ticket price. ___Once again, airlines are a BUSINESS. They can run their business however sloppily they want to. It’s similar to how I wouldn’t want a law requiring waiters to get my food to me in a certain amount of time. While I agree they ‘should’ reimburse you 150%, it’s not American to require it.

    Compensation for passengers whose baggage is lost or mishandled.
    ___I totally agree. Losing something of somebodies destruction of property requires reimbursment.

    Creation of a Passenger Review Committee made up of nonairline consumers to review and investigate complaints.___Wow, why don’t we just let government in on ALL our businesses. Why should our government set up review boards controlled by law for airlines NOT owned by the government?___

    My point is you’re thinking with your emotions rather than your mind. While your idea is cool, only two ideas would follow America’s procedure.
    The government does not have permission to control institutions in the way you and your partners are suggesting because people have the right to run their buisness however they see fit, provided they do not false advertise or cause harm. Aside from the laws, all you can do is sue.
    And YOU can sue for imprisonment (provided you asked them to let you off the plane).

  • It doesn’t matter if it was the weather. It matters what the FAA says. It’s their call to delay air traffic, it’s their call whether a plane leaves the tarmac or not.

    You’re asking for all of these restrictions and things related to delays but it’s not within the airlines control to say whether a plane takes off or not, it’s the governments. You need to take another look at what your asking for and redirect these things to the government. The FAA and the airlines have your safety in mind when they delay flights… trust me they don’t want you sitting there any longer than you want to be. It’s not easy for either party.

  • There is absolutely NO reason an airline should hold HOSTAGE United States citizens who wish to deplane after an extended delay. It takes less than thirty minutes to seat the passangers of most planes. At minimum our freedom is being taken from us. Three hours is too much also. After two hours airlines should be required to pull to a gate and allow passangers who want to exit the aircraft that option. The option to change airlines to find an alternate transportation source for their final destination. The people in Little Rock who were diverted from Dallas are a prime example. Here they are at thier final destination and the have to sit on the tarmac for hours and hours, not allowed to deplane at what would be thier final destination, forced to fly five hours later to Dallas where their connection to Little Rock was cancelled. How stupid are these airline executives? There were at least six people on the Little Rock American Airlines flight whose final destination was Little Rock! I will never fly American Airlines again.

  • I just want to add a note to thank all of you who have initiated this process of a passengers bill of rights. I travel quite a bit, and have seen conditions and treatment of passengers decline over the last 10 years. I have to add that of all the US-headquartered airlines (who are all less committed to customer service than non-US airlines), American Airlines is consistently the worst. I have a laundry list of stories of poor treatment, delays with no compensation, the ticketing agent use of “weather” as a reason for a long delay/cancellation even when the captain has announced a different reason…and of course, resulting in no vouchers offered for food or lodging because it is ‘weather-related.’ Its quite horrible, and it surprises me that passengers haven’t claimed their rights en masse before now.

  • GREED. That’s the reason. It is not he weather. If you deplane, then you may vote with your feet and find other options. It is anti free-market to force a customer to remain a customer. Within a two hour period of time, a gate has opened. The passengers can deplane and be called back when it is time to leave or find other options. Airline staff are trained to lie which robs the consumer of information. This is market failure; therefore, government intervention is required.

    I was heading through St. Louis to Lexington for an interview. The South West airline staff kept saying that the flight would arrive in 30 minutes. They said this until all of the other airline flights were gone. We were stalled until we were out of options. However, if the incoming flight takes 1.5 hours and it has not taken off yet, then it can’t land in 30 minutes. The same employee that tells you 30 minutes can look at the same computer and see that the flight has not left the departing city. I always ask has it departed yet, and when did it leave? Then I determine the time for myself.

  • I agree that you should not have been held hostage on that aircraft. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it legally. The airlines doesn’t guarantee their schedule and it makes no mention in its Contract of Carriage about such scenarios. I believe the Customer Service Plan addresses it to some degree, but the Contract of Carriage governs.

    I really hope you cn make this happen.

  • The debate over what is “American” in terms of how much regulation an airline should be subjected to is by no means cut-and-dried. Shat agrees with a couple of the proposed regulations but doesn’t agree with others, with the principal argument that these others are un-American. I think that all these proposed regulations should be adopted _voluntarily_ by all the airlines, and that customers should “regulate” with their feet by not flying with non-complying airlines. But the problem is that the airline industry is not exactly a domain of unfettered free-marketeerism. By absolute necessity, airlines are very heavily regulated by government, primarily in areas relating to safety, but also in areas concerning logistics (all their routes must be approved by the government). Government is heavily involved in keeping the airline industry going, in the form of all kinds of subsidies (for airport maintenance/construction, funding air traffic control, defending our air-space – i.e. the air force – and so on). It’s government’s obligation to ensure that the country has a well-functioning airline industry, because the economy itself depends on a well-functioning airline industry (just like the highway system). In a free-market capitalist system such as ours, the consensus generally has been: let the market do what it does best, but let government ensure that the market can function, and that basic infrastructure for the market to work well is in place. So the real question is, where do you draw the line between what is excessive intrusion into the market (which many believe is not the American way) and what is government’s obligation to its citizenry to ensure a baseline of appropriate behavior by the airlines? A lot of this is a matter of opinion, rather than facts. The facts are that there is now no customer bill of rights and that, to some extent, customers _do_not_ have a choice which airline to take, and that means some regulation of airline’s treatment of their customers is appropriate. The line should be drawn where government’s role actually impedes the market from functioning, and there’s very little in the proposal that would do that.

  • It’s not just AA that uses weather as an excuse. I flew Delta LAS-ATL-BNA nearly one year ago today. On our way back, our flight was “delayed due to weather” and given to another plane of passengers who had been unboarded due to equipment issues. We were moved to a nearby gate while we watched our flight boarded by the other passengers.

    My husband and I were left stranded in ATL the entire day and told to sit by gates to see where we could fit in. We asked for our bags so we could rent a car and drive home (our children were without a sitter in the morning), and they refused. At midnight, Delta bussed us to a hotel (no meals all day) and told us to return early the next day. We were told if we took the time to buy a meal at the airport, we would miss the one bus AND hotel vouchers they were willing to provide.

    We finally made it home nearly 36 hours later, after not even being given the in-flight meal we had paid for.

    I filed a complaint and asked for a refund. Nothing was done. Weather delays are an excuse airlines can hide under.

  • I think “anonymous” must be one of the flight attendants I had to deal with at Delta. Ha, ha.

    The flaw in his logic is that a cancelled flight is somehow bad. If my flight had been canceled 36 hrs earlier, I would have been refunded the flight and could have DRIVEN home by then. Heck! I could have flown all over the US by then.

  • I’m not anonymous, I just don’t want to register on google.

    This would be a FABULOUS thing for us to get. For too long, operations idiots at AMR and other airlines have moved planes around like chess pieces, forgetting there are PEOPLE ON BOARD.

    I love when you have a mechanical and they say “There is no other aircraft available.” yea, RIGHT.

    and they push you back from the gate just so they can say the flight left “on time” for their records but then leave you on the tarmac for hours until the crew expires.

    Love it. What idiots. I would LOVE if someone could post the phone #’s that go into the various operations centers for the various airlines so passengers imprisoned on a plane could clog up the operations center phone lines screaming ‘GET US OFF THIS DAMN PLANE!!”

    That would get AMR to wake up. Any employees want to give us the #????

  • I understand how everyone feels. I work for a different airline as a flight attendant, and I too have been stuck on an airplane for that long, and I agree that it is not right. Do you think the crew wants to be stuck on a plane with 100 unreasonable passengers any more then you want to be stuck? Has anyone considered some obvious facts though? Airlines do not control the weather NOR do they control the airports. The airports and Air Traffic Control decides who gets a gate, where the planes go etc etc. The airlines do not own the airports, the city does. If ATC and the airport tell the airline that there are no gates, then they are stuck.. and that is not the airlines fault. You are right, there should have been more communication, but maybe you should be more reasonable and fair and not pin all of your issues on the airlines, when there are many factors. If the slide is the only way to get off the aircraft, would you be willing to split the fine that the airport will impose on the airline for evacuating on the tarmac with the other passengers? If so, next time, pool your money and go down the slide.

  • I understand how everyone feels. I work for a different airline as a flight attendant, and I too have been stuck on an airplane for that long, and I agree that it is not right. Do you think the crew wants to be stuck on a plane with 100 unreasonable passengers any more then you want to be stuck? Has anyone considered some obvious facts though? Airlines do not control the weather NOR do they control the airports. The airports and Air Traffic Control decides who gets a gate, where the planes go etc etc. The airlines do not own the airports, the city does. If ATC and the airport tell the airline that there are no gates, then they are stuck.. and that is not the airlines fault. You are right, there should have been more communication, but maybe you should be more reasonable and fair and not pin all of your issues on the airlines, when there are many factors. If the slide is the only way to get off the aircraft, would you be willing to split the fine that the airport will impose on the airline for evacuating on the tarmac with the other passengers? If so, next time, pool your money and go down the slide.

  • You guys are the same people who wait until 5 minutes before departure to show up at the gate, and then cause the flight to be late… and then the first to complain when the flight is late arriving to your destination. I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but to impose this on the airlines is a joke. I hope you get laughed all of the way down the hill. Airlines are a private business and not controlled by the government… pretty soon you are going to make a bill of rights for the people at Safeway for the way they sell their food. If you hate flying, take the damn train.

  • What would happen if a passenger were to decide themselves to open the emergency door and slide an exit the aircraft. Is that a crime? Clearly the airline employees could be fired for doing that, but what would happen if a passenger did it?

  • I have been flying on business for some 22 plus years. I have had between 2 and 16 flights per week over that period of time. In all of those flights, I have only had one situation similar to what is described with American Airlines and that was with another airline. My remedy for that? I don’t fly that airline, EVER. In that case weather was given as the reason, however when we finally did take off, it was right into a very severe thunderstorm and the same weather greeted us at our final destination in Charlotte, NC. Bottom line, that airline was in finacial trouble at the time and, we were told later by several travel agents, that Charlotte would not allow them to land for lack of paying their landing fees, etc., so they couldn’t take off in NYC. AS stated by several others here, it is NOT the airlines that control whether you get a gate to de-plane or even whether you have to sit on a tarmac for hours. Those things are controlled by Government agencies, local, state, and federal. However, as with my experience in NYC, the airlines do take advantage of weather conditions to get out of providing the passenger with lodging and food. Weather was obviously not the problem in that case because if we had departed on time, we would have been well ahead of that weather, as we found out later. I don’t think you will get anywhere trying to get the government to step in as they already control most of the things about which you have complaints. Also, the percentage of these incidents is extremely small. This is like saying the government should legislate how long one can be held up in traffic on the morning commute to work, or how long one has to wait for a dentist or doctor. Where do you draw the line? As I said, my way of dealing with the problem is just don’t do business with the offending vendor. There are 2 airlines that I will not fly, even if it means not getting to my final destination in a timely manner. The one thing I do think the airlines should be required by law to do is be completely truthful about the reason for a delay, if that delay is caused by them and not the airport or some governmental agency.

  • In any event, I feel that competition is what drives fairness towards the consumer. That’s why you would never have waits in denistry or doctors.

    What about a doctor’s office in a rural area that had locks on the door and the only escape was an elevator that brought you down five stories (or in this a slide from an airplane or steps (I don’t think there are any). What about if that office had no liquids available and the office had a single septic tank. Of course that could never happen. If it did, it would be legislated. What’s so different about an airline. It costs a lot surely each time you use the gate, but it is a low cost compared to the cost of the plane, itself. Also we have all these junk fees so maybe those junk fees should be
    “insurance” for being able to use a terminal in bad weather. I think there should be an option to get off the plane every two hours. That seems to be where a reasonably prudent person believes.

  • In any event, I feel that competition is what drives fairness towards the consumer. That’s why you would never have waits in denistry or doctors.

    What about a doctor’s office in a rural area that had locks on the door and the only escape was an elevator that brought you down five stories (or in this a slide from an airplane or steps (I don’t think there are any). What about if that office had no liquids available and the office had a single septic tank. Of course that could never happen. If it did, it would be legislated. What’s so different about an airline. It costs a lot surely each time you use the gate, but it is a low cost compared to the cost of the plane, itself. Also we have all these junk fees so maybe those junk fees should be
    “insurance” for being able to use a terminal in bad weather. I think there should be an option to get off the plane every two hours. That seems to be where a reasonably prudent person believes.

  • I’m a fellow passenger and have just heard from AA that they flatly refuse to reimburse for all expenses associated with getting my family to Dallas because according to them it was the weather. Upon further challenge they say it was “mostly the weather”. They they conceded to pay car rental and gas, but not hotel. Where we supposed to sleep?

    This behavior is extremely shortsighted and unfortunately as it stands there is very little sanction on this behavior.

  • I was stuck on the tarmac for a mere two hours, and it was HELL! No air-conditioning, no food or water, stinking toilets, etc; not to mention the fact that had we been able to deplane we, too, could have rented a car and driven to our destination by the time the plane took off. I don’t believe anyone disputes the fact that weather can (and should) delay a flight, but there must be a way to stop them from holding us hostage on the tarmac.

  • How about a bill of rights for us who have doctor appointments and when we get to the doctors office ON TIME for our appointment and then were not seen for 45 min or longer. I love the signs in doctors offices that say if your 5 minutes late consider yourself rescheduled. I took time out of my “work” day to make my scheduled appointment, I think doctor offices should do the same and if they are running late or behind, I should see some kind of compensation.

  • its not only the FAA’s call but it is also the captains call as a captain of a aircraft he has final say on what happens as long as there isnt a rule that says he cant do something

  • Legend says that the FAA determines whether planes leave the tarmac. Pfui. The airline along with the airport’s traffic controllers decide.

    Many airports ‘lease’ the gates to the airlines, so they have to pay a fee to use another airline’s gates if all of theirs are occupied. The airline doesn’t want to pay the fee if they’re going to cancel the flight — that’s loosing revenue on top of loosing revenue.

    This used to cause major problems at LaGuardia in NYC, so they suspended the practice during over-crowded times.

  • To all passengers. Let me apologize for all that has happened. I don’t work for AA, but another major carrier. I know that there are “bad” employees in every business, but please know that the MAJORITY of flight attendants HATE putting our passengers through hell. Also please remember that we are on the plane with you…just as uncomfortable and probably more stressed because we cannot help. I would never condone being rude to a passenger, unless they became unruly and I felt physically threatened. I am not making excuses for anything that has happened, just asking you to remember that flight crews are stuck there with you…

  • bunch of whining babies, quit asking the government to make everybody responsible for things you dont like, quit crying because people with more perception than you decide to delay a plane in unsafe weather. why dont you ride a bicycle next time and see if sitting in plane a few extra hours isnt so bad. why do americans think everyone owes them something

  • What if everyone on the plane called 9-11? I mean, if after 3 hours of delay and you can’t get off the plane, and with little explanation – sounds like a hostage situation to me.

    Count my call in…

  • Yes!! The excuse I got for being stuck on a Continental commuter jet for over 8 hours, sitting on the tarmac in a “parking lot” was “its the weather”. But then the excuse for not letting us off was “its the ATC’s fault”.

  • Those of you that want to open the doors on your own and deploy the slides had better think twice unless you do not mind staying in jail and paying a BIG fine. An action such as that would be a Federal offence – interferring with a flight crew – and if they told you not to do it, failing to obey the flight crew. These are felonies and they DO get prosecuted. Then you also end up on the “no fly” lists.
    So if you are mad enough to take some jail time, pay the fines, and never fly again, go ahead try to open the doors on your own.
    Have a nice day.

  • Its always funny to see the free market right wingers saying that its passengers’ fault and the government’s fault. Of course the airlines have a say, and they just think its not worth the money. The laws set the rules, we write the laws, and we have to change the laws. Very simple. Driving across the freakin’ country is not an option – and as long as Republicants keep defunding Amtrak, the train’s not a good option either.

    We have to fix this – it’s intolerable and wrong, and as consumers that’s exactly what we’ll do.

  • How long did u wait at the doctors, the dentist the auto repair shop… how many of u have ANY idea of what happens when a plane gets stuck off the gate at an airport. YOU need to redirect your energy to the root cause of the delay Air traffic control and the FAA. NOT the airlines. The planes and pilots are only cogs in the wheel. They are TOLD when they can depart and when the y can land. Stop whinning for a passenger bill of rights and cntact your congresssperson and TELL them to UPGRADE out 1950’s

  • American Airlines doesn’t care. I flew over 80,000 miles on American Airlines and have numerous examples of them not caring.

    It is often forgotten but in early January, 1999, there was similar fiasco with Northwest Airlines in Detroit where several planes sat on the tarmac for many hours. (see this website for more information – http://www.dot.gov/affairs/1999/detsnowintro.htm )

    A well-managed company that cared about their passengers reacted to the Northwest Airlines Detroit situation and put in place policies that were in the best interest of their passengers.

    The reality is that with today’s airline structure, in many cities, passengers have little choice of which airline to fly. In my case out of Dallas, American Airlines has over 80% of the flights. If I don’t take American, most often I am faced with a one or two stop trip or connection all which are have additional perils.

    I have written to both my Senators and my congressmen urging them to vote for the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. The flying public urgently needs it.

  • 2 or 3 hours is long enough, so when that happens again, they just suspend the flight and reopen it the next day. what is the big deal? they got the money, they just don’t think for the passengers. it is not like we have snowstorms every single day. if we do. give free tickets or some gas card because we need it.

  • The problem with the idea of it being regulated by the concept of “free enterprise” and boycotting them if I don’t like what they are doing is this:

    If I’m in a store or someplace else and I don’t like the way they are doing things, I can always get up and leave any time I want to. If I’m stuck on that airplane, and I try to open the door and leave… I will be arrested and brought up on federal charges! That is why there needs to be federal regulations governing what is reasonable and what is not.

  • Jman444, I don’t believe you DO know how everyone feels at all. Do you genuinely believe that it is unreasonable to object to being falsely imprisoned for hours on end without food, drink, amenities, or – most importantly – straight answers? If you do, then you have absolutely no idea what the rest of us are unhappy about.
    And to the person who suggested that everyone here is responsible for making flights depart late, I have to say that since you don’t know everyone here, your statements are ipso facto false. When I was young, I thought flying was a great way to go somewhere. Now, I only fly if there’s absolutely no way for me to drive there, such as when I traveled to China from the US. The industry is, in my experience, that bad.
    Airlines: try behaving reasonably once in awhile and see if it doesn’t pay off.
    Driver

  • I hate to side-track the cause here, or even the issues at hand, but I would like to hear from some others who have witnessed “first-hand” airline employees who have empowered themselves (or believe themselves to have been empowered) to a higher degree than is reality. I feel like I’ve seen it all, but just for the humor it might be fun to hear about other experiences . . . my funniest? After being unnecessarily provoked by a fuming Southwest gate agent (probably just served some a$$hole Customer and forgot to take three deep breaths before I stepped up) to the point that I did let go and called her a 5-letter name she richly deserved and was obviously trying to evoke–she threatened to call Security and put me aside while she waited on other customers. Poetic license and bias aside, she started the entire charade, then further angered me by exercising her “power” over me as a lowly passenger (the reason this bitch had a job in the first place). Knowing that Southwest seems to hire upbeat and extremely friendly people, I can only HOPE this young lady is no longer employed by Southwest in El Paso, TX. I’m unsure because I vowed no matter what, I would not be routed through El Paso again JUST IN CASE . . .

  • As an afterthought to my last post:

    Does anyone know the outcome of that incident in New Jersey??? when the Continental gate agent was allegedly “assaulted” by the man attempting to recapture his young child that ran past airline employees down the jetway?

    These are the type of incidents I want to hear about . . . what were the circumstances? final outcomes?

  • I can tell you one thing. There is no way in hell that I would be forced to sit on an airplane on the tarmac for more than 2 hours. I would’ve demanded they return to the gate and let me off, or I would have opened hatch myself and de-planed right in the middle of the tarmac even if I had to strong-arm someone to do it! And if they wanted to arrest me, then go right ahead!! You wouldn’t have seen me sitting on a plane for this amount of time in any circumstance!! Holding someone against they’re will regardless of the situation is illegal. The only exception to that is if arrested, and even then, they can only legally hold you for so long without filing charges.
    Greg.

  • First, it’s an inconvenience when any flight is delayed regardless of the situation or the amount of time. The impact has a ripple effect for all involved. Unfortunately, many delays are not controllable and safety is the major contributing factor in the operation of air travel. The FAA controls the airways and the flow of air traffic and commercial airlines must operate according to FAA decisions.

    The problem encountered during a weather delay further compounds the ripple effect and gate availability at the terminal. When a flight is diverted it is routed to an alternate airport which did not plan to service the aircraft. The unscheduled aircraft may experience additional delay waiting for gate space to open and manpower to service the passengers and aircraft.

    Airlines are more than accomodating when there is a weather delay effecting travel and will reschedule customer’s flight to a more suitable time free of charge. The weather is not controlled by the air carrier and their responsibility is to get you from point A to point B safely working with the FAA.

    This industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world. It seems the passenger must accept some responsibility for choosing to fly when the weather is foul and the potential problems that go along with that choice. Plan accordingly or try flying private! Caveat emptor… Emptor…..dah

  • i agree w/jman444 & ejackson0723. how can you say that the airlines are holding you hostage when they have no control of the situation? people complain about everything. when the airline ticket prices go up, you complain. when we run out of food choices on the plane, you complain. when you can’t find pillows or blankets on the plane, you complain. when a plane can’t take-off or land because of weather, you complain. hey, it might be raining cats & dogs along w/ thunder & lightning outside, but passengers don’t care. they seem to know more about the flight crew & air traffic controllers when it comes to weather delays. passengers just want the planes to land because they have another flight to catch or a meeting. nevermind that the plane might land in several pieces.

    when the airline sits on the tarmac for a period of time, it is not feasible for that plane to return to the gate when there is no gate it could pull up to. as to the other suggestions that a bus be provided, maybe it could be done if only one or two planes are requesting it. but when you have hundreds of planes sitting on the runway asking for the same thing, you don’t think it will be accomplished in 15 minutes, would you? and airplanes are not restaurants, people! they are only catered what they are supposed to serve on that flight. they are not catered for when there are delays. sure, the crew could call for more catering supplies. but, again, if you have thousands of passengers wanting food, the catering company that provides food to the airlines will not be able to give provisions to everybody.

    passenger bill of rights?! what a joke! you should just stay home when the weather report shows heavy rain,snow & airline delays/cancellations are in effect don’t blame the airlines for your stupidity, ignorance& greed.

  • So, if it is illegal to open the door, is there any limit to how long they can legally hold you in a plane without food, a toilet or fresh air?

    I often travel with two babies (when we have to go more than 350 miles).

    It’s damn near impossible to convince the TSA to let you on with items you absolutely need for a baby.

    What would happen if the airplane held you for 36 hours with no food or toilet?

    What if you had a medical condition and required medicine to not die?

    What if your babies were crying for hours because they were hungry and had no food?

    Is there any period of time or condition where it becomes legal to free yourself?

  • Mr. Gibson, in response to your inquiry about the gentleman accused of assaulting a Continental Airlines employee while he was attempting to rescue his 23-month-old daughter, who had run down the jetway, he was found not guilty of assault. If you would like to read the story, please go to http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=travel&res=9901E2DC1F3FF937A35757C0A9679C8B63 I feel for this poor man and his attempts to protect his family. The ticket agent shoved his wife when she tried to get her child, and the jurors determined that he could not have picked up the agent and slammed him to the ground, as the agent said. Sorry, but they should have allowed mom to get her daughter, instead of shoving her down and sending another agent to get the child. The father stated that the ticket agent tried to choke him after he shoved the man’s wife and they fell to the floor. Frankly, the agent does not need to be in the customer service business. I am very sorry he was hurt, but if your airline policy is to not allow a mother to protect her child, perhaps you should have a very high amount of Workers’ Compensation Insurance available.

  • To “Anonymous” for posts 2/19 at 10:38 a. m. and 10:43 a. m.:

    THANK YOU for the update . . . wow, time flies, eh? Didn’t realize it had been that long ago . . . But, I’m ecstatic that the passenger was found not guilty. What an overreaction by one of these “types” to which I’ve referred; the parents reacted in a normal, usual way to the child “getting away”.

    Seemingly, some airlines are out-of-control in more ways than one . . . by the way, seeing as how the Continental representative(s) commented on the case? These assholes need not worry, I won’t be flying their airline simply due to the way the ENTIRE situation was handled. As most say when ready to deplane ” . . . you have a choice when traveling . . . BLAH BLAH” and how true it is!!!

  • If the railroads hadn’t been in such a huge hurry to rip up their rails that serve far more communities than airlines (and can carry many more passengers), we just might have a better transportation system that is less dependent on lame excuses about weather.

  • Is there a blog administrator who reviews these posts? Have you looked at the photo that accompanies the post by Mitch Haase. He’s obviously quite impressed with himself, but do we all need to see that?

  • someone wrote in an earlier post:

    “I was heading through St. Louis to Lexington for an interview. The South West airline staff kept saying that the flight would arrive in 30 minutes. They said this until all of the other airline flights were gone. We were stalled until we were out of options. However, if the incoming flight takes 1.5 hours and it has not taken off yet, then it can’t land in 30 minutes. The same employee that tells you 30 minutes can look at the same computer and see that the flight has not left the departing city. I always ask has it departed yet, and when did it leave? Then I determine the time for myself.”

    my comment is that i was faced with the exact same situation at a gate in an airport in the usa. i asked the same departure time and flight time questions, that was the only way i could get a probable time of arrival of the flight. i don’t remember which airline and airport, i have flown a lot and that experience took place perhaps 20 years ago.

  • hi,

    re. airlines keeping passengers stuck in a plane on the tarmac for unconscionably long periods, there is a pattern to it.

    now it’s jet blue, earlier it happened with american airlines, before that it was northwest airlines, on a flight from europe to the midwest.

    all 3 times, the airlines had the same behaviour. they just drag things on, one thing after another, they don’t have an exit strategy, with a time limit, for passengers. they do have it for crews though. part of the delay in the northwest case was that the crew was taken off the plane because their time limit was up. that negated all the arguments northwest made for not taking off the passengers, such as immigration, because the plane was forced to land at a non-international airport.

    i was not on that northwest plane, but that incident is why i stoped flying northwest airlines.

    i stopped flying united airlines because of how i and others were treated in seattle. first, i was delayed out of philadelphia, for a week, because of fog in seattle. that was ok, i was living in philadelphia. then i got stuck a couple of days in seattle because of fog. the airline wanted us to stay in the airport. the flight was to tokyo. the airline refused to put the passengers in a hotel, i observed a few passengers at a time making such a request. i got the attention of all the passengers, i think i stood on a chair and shouted to be heard. i explained the IATA rules for such a situation, how many hours delay entitles passengers to a hotel room and a meal. then all the passengers demanded their rights. the airline then arranged vans to take us to a nearby hotel and feed us dinner.

    when getting on the plane to tokyo, the airline assured me that my connecting flight to malaysia (on malaysia airlines) had been arranged. well, i think they lied and had not arranged the connecting flight, to retaliate against me because i had organised the passengers in seattle to demand their rights.

    when i got to tokyo, i had no onward connection to malaysia. all the airline offices were closed at the time. i went to the traffic officer, who i recognised by his duties, not by his face, the traffic officer whom i knew happened to be off duty that morning. the traffic officer on duty refused to help me. i knew someone in malaysia airlines, so i waited for the flight crew to arrive, when i spotted them i introduced myself, explained the situation and requested a seat. i was told the flight was full, i then said jump seat is ok, i’ve flown in the jump seat before. the first officer then told the traffic officer to get me a seat. the traffic officer was really angry at me, refused to speak to me. but last minute he told me to board. that’s how i finally got home to my wife on christmas eve 1985.

    such opprobrious behaviour persists because it’s the easy way out for the airline and they don’t care if they lose customers. and they don’t face sanctions that force them to care.

    regards,

    Paul Sagi

  • People are forgetting that there are Federal agents on the plane now. Attempting to open the door will get your head slammed against the floor and handcuffed, and maybe restrained to your seat, but it won’t get you off the plane any faster. You’ll also end up in jail and on the no-fly list, which I suppose prevents the problem from happening to you again.

    It’s not kidnapping because you bought the ticket and voluntarily got on the plane. Look at all the tiny fine print along with all the rules and regulations you agreed to when you bought the ticket.

    The problem is that the entire air traffic system, including the airlines, FAA, and airports, is stretched to the limit on a good day. If something bad happens, the system breaks and people are literally stopped in their tracks. There is no procedure and no resources in place to recover from this. There should be, but there isn’t.

    So if you hear that a major storm is anywhere near your departure point, destination point, or anyplace in between, take the $100 penalty (just $25 on Jetblue) and reschedule your flight.

  • chicago
    I was in the air industry business for 6 years in an operational capacity. I have been in mecahnical and weather issues.
    ist off , it is not the FAA or act of God or mechanical. Cockpit crew has the power to call operations and request for transportation if the passengers
    required to be bussed back to the terminal. no hours or time factor are needed to call the busses. But it does cost the arlines money
    for these incidentals . the bottom line is to blame. And we are also informed during those times to shift blame to anything but the airlines. The airlines will scare you about regulations. But during regulations, if you recall tickets are all priced basically the same. you dont sit with someone who paid $50. vs your fare of $1000. no exagerration here.
    Regulation is good for customers. you can compalain to a ticket agent
    without them screaming that you are
    disrupting flights and call the marines. It is time to rein in the airlines that WE the people paid money from taxes to bail out of a bad situation. They owe us not the other way around.

  • As a former FAA Air Traffic Controller, I can tell you that it is not the FAA that determines who gets a gate and who sits on the tarmac at the airports. IT IS THE AIRLINES. They own or lease the gates. It is not even the airport operator who makes the determination, because they relinquish the control of the gates TO THE AIRLINES.

    I arrived in Munich, Germany, from Istanbul, Turkey, in December and we were told all the gates were full, and that we would be parking on the tarmac, along with about thirty other arriving aircraft. The airline made sure that there were busses on hand, got all of us and our baggage off the plane in ten minutes, and ensured that everyone made their connection, if they had one. Why can’t we do that in the USA?

    While we live in a “free” society wherein any business owner may choose to operate his/her business any way s/he sees fit, up to a point, the people with whom they do business still have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. If we don’t like the way we are treated, we can go elsewhere next time.

    But what do we do when we are held hostage and not allowed to go elsewhere? I, too, have had it happen, and I took steps to correct it. If I were stuck on the tarmac, or even at a gate with the door closed, and not allowed off the plane, I will call 911 and say that I am being held against my will. That might get a response from the airline.

    I am very much in favor of a Travelers’ Bill of Rights. The airlines and other segments of the travel industry in our country have long forgotten who pays the bills, and it is mostly the taxpayers – not just the travelers. Sure, you can say that you will not fly on American Airlines again, but if they are the only airline to serve your destination, how else will you get there? Driving is not always an option, and Amtrak is a joke.

    We have rights in other business dealings. If we purchase a defective product, we have the right to have it repaired or replaced, or to get our money back.

    If the airline sells me a ticket, they are under no obligation to get me to my destination within the contracted time period, nor do they have to refund my money, unless they over book my flight (sell the same seat twice). Just because you have paid a hotel in advance for a room does not guarantee that you will have a room when you arrive. The guarantee is only that the hotel will get paid. I might get a refund, if I am lucky, but where do I spend the night?

    There needs to be a better way for all of us to hold feet to the fire and make the people who sell and distribute travel products in this country give us what we pay for. A Travelers’ Bill of Rights with the force of the Congress behind it might have some effect.

    Bob Ensten
    Windsor, CA
    Board Member, Association of Retail Travel Agents
    Working for a Travelers’ Bill of Rights

  • “Legend says that the FAA determines whether planes leave the tarmac. Pfui. The airline along with the airport’s traffic controllers decide.”

    Now exactly who do you think the Air Traffic Controllers represent in this secnario, hmm, without a long leap of logic, they are representatives of the FAA, since they are employed by same. If there are ATC holds, airplanes WILL NOT be leaving, no matter what the airline request or beg for.

    Airlines certainly shoulod do better when issues happen, but the biggest issues continues to be out of the airlines hand, as they are weather and lack of facilities.

    One great example that is seen all the time is this: A person is at point A travelling to point B, the weather at point A is nice and the person spoke to a friend at point B, where he weather is nice. So, the airline must be lying when they say it is weather! Wrong, the issue is the line of thunderstorms that lies between A and B, which causes airplanes to be rerouted, held or diverted.

    The persistent problem is the underfunding of the National Airspace System (NAS) unless that problem is fixed, the issue of delay will not disappear. We need to upgrade the ATC system, hire more controllers and expand the airports.

    The goverment, in the case of the NAS is to blame and most often local politics is to blame for the airports. Everyone wants direct flights to everywhere, but no one wants the airport in their neighborhood!

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