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An all things aviation blog

Monthly Archives: April 2012

What is it about getting on a plane that drives normally sane people crazy? Well I am assuming that people described in the story below are sane. Now I was not there and is the first hand account of S. Sullivan.

The GS [Global Services, United Airlines invite only elite level] DYKWIA [Do You Know Who I Am] nonsense on DCA-ORD is at full force today. Woman and husband both claim they are GS members and are yelling about there being an open seat in F [First Class] and they can’t fit their entire family of 5 in F. There’s not an open seat up front; it’s booked full and we still have 20+ minutes until push. There are also 16 on the upgrade list. Dad is sitting in back so the kids can be up front, using two companion upgrades and his upgrade (he took the non upgraded kid’s seat). To make it worse, Mom is trying to pull the GS nonsense to get people to move around so the kids, all in row 3, are in row 1 with her. The youngest kid is maybe 9. I think they can handle sitting together with Mom three rows away for 90 minutes. And, instead of getting one passenger to trade, Mom is trying to get 3 to trade. After all, why piss off one passenger when you can do it to 1/8 of the first class cabin?

On top of that, one of the kids is a total brat and has already been bossing around a FA [Flight Attendant] like she’s her personal servant. She rang her call button repeatedly to get a Sprite a few minutes ago after it was settled that nobody was agreeing to change seats with this obnoxious group of d-bag kids and their mother.

It Continues in a later post.

Remaining F passengers have boarded. Mom still wants FA to explain two things – why they weren’t given seats together when the upgrades cleared, and why a GS member doesn’t get to upgrade as many people as she wants. As if the FA knows these things.


They got even worse during the flight. Dad kept coming up to the first class cabin to chat and finally the flight attendants had to tell him to stay in Economy. Mom got up at least 10 times from 1A to check on the kids in row 3, which were minding their own business and staying pretty quiet. I’m sure the guy in 1B was not happy that he had to keep letting her out, as row 1 on the PMUA [Pre-Merger United Airlines] 752s [757-200] is very close to the bulkheads and Mom wasn’t a small woman. Little miss flight attendant call button finally stopped that once the flight attendant told her that she didn’t need to ring her button six times repeatedly to get something, and gave her a full, unopened can of Sprite after takeoff along with a glass that was already full. Of course, that meant she also had to make three trips to the lav, including one on final that caused the flight attendant to tell her to go sit down.

But the worst while we were the air? One of the kids had a broken headset at his seat (the one UA provides). It was missing the jack on the end of the cord. Instead of asking a FA for another headset, Mom walked up to my row, in front of the kids, looked at me, and demanded I give her my headset, which I wasn’t using. I politely declined and said, “I may want to watch TV in a few.” She groaned and looked at the guy next to me, who was asleep, and tried to wake him. At that point I said, “Ask a flight attendant. If you’re really a Global Services, then you possibly fly more than my cheap 1K [100,000 mile United Airlines elite level] self, and you should know the flight attendant is who you should ask for a new headset, rather than annoying everyone else on the plane.” She then stood there, rang my call button, and demanded the flight attendant get a new headset. The flight attendant was nice and got her one, and then asked her to sit down, stay seated, and not talk to any other passenger on the plane that wasn’t one of her kids or her husband. I think at that point everyone up front not part of this family was sick of it, and the flight attendants weren’t going to allow her to bully people around any longer.

I have my own story.

In 2007 I was in law school and flying ATL-MIA-ATL on AA for an arbitration competition at the University of Miami. Well I screwed up and I got my ticket canceled, but that’s not the point. I am waiting in screw up line at MIA. The line takes about 30 minutes to get through. I get to the front and all of the sudden a woman, wearing some sort of fur shawl, cuts to the front and slams her passport down in-front of me demanding help from the agent. I was like “back of the line.” She shoves me, (yeah shoves me) and says to me “You wanna fight.” Well, it was about to go down when agent realizing I wasn’t going to back down, decides to help the woman. It was this moment I decided I would never fly AA, EVER. (Since 2007 I have flown AA once LAS-LAX on the $300.00 off a vegas trip deal)

Neither my situation nor Mr. Sullivan’s story is unique. Passengers behave badly all the time. Why, yelling at the poor agent, FA, or staff will not help their cause, well it did in my case. I think there is something about the lack of control that commercial aviation imposes on the passengers that makes this happen. From the time passengers book their ticket to the time they get off the flight they have no control over anything. I think this bad behavior is the passenger trying to exercise some control over their environment. Why does that desire express itself in such a negative way? Were these people just not taught to handle frustration well. I am not sure about that though.

I just don’t know. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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What a mess AA has gotten themselves into. First the bankruptcy now this.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the aviation community, there was a huge hail storm in the Dallas area. Dallas is home to AA’s largest hub at DFW airport. This has caused huge problems as AA has had to cancel flights to inspect for and repair hail damage. I think the final count was over 1600 flights, though I could be wrong on that.

Now AA is facing “Operation Aluminum.” AA’s flight attendants are apparently going to start industrial actions designed to further hamper AA’s operations. This operation is apparently led by a cross-dressing former flight attendant who was fired by AA for posting video critical of AA on YouTube.

AA’s situation continues to devolve as the proceed through the bankruptcy process. With US interested in making a bid for AA, AA’s flight attendants and pilots better take note. Back in 2001 when AA took over TWA, then in Ch. 11, AA sent all of the TWA pilots and flight attendants to the bottom of the seniority list. This left both groups basically unemployed. US, if they take over AA, will do the same thing. US can’t stomach another labor dispute so they will mollify that group by sending AA labor to the bottom of the list.

To AA labor, you want a different situation, be careful what you wish for you may just get it.

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Today marked the start of Airbus’ A350 production line, with the static test plane. Before I talk too much about the plane itself. I wanted to talk a little about the Airbus v. Boeing debate and the Airbus product line generally. Much virtual ink is spilled about the merits of Airbus v. Boeing aircraft. This is largely a myth, while the companies do compete generally, their products do not compete specifically. What I mean by this is that if you put the two lines next to each other, there are no true equivalent products on seat capacity. For any given seat capacity the buyer wants, there is only product that perfectly fits that need.The same is true for the A350

The A350 is Airbus’ response to the 787, except not really. The A350 relies more on carbon fiber than their previous offerings, but the expected capacity is closer to the 777 then the 787 or A330. Currently there are 561 orders for this plane which is very good. However, recently orders have tailed off. Since 2010 there have only been 53 orders for the aircraft, which shows that that maybe this plane does not have a long term strategy.

Both Boeing and Airbus have made extraordinary promises when it comes to performance not just for their initial frames but for the stretched models of the 787 and 350. It will be interesting to see in the coming years if they can keep those promises.

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U.S. Senator Nelson from Nebraska introduced a bill today to end the practice of airlines providing elite security lines. These lines which require the user: to maintain some sort of elite level; have the correct credit-card; or purchase the service from the airline allow the passenger expedited access to the TSA checkpoint. The users clear the same security as everyone else it just takes less time to do so.

Why is this a big deal? Well there was a companion article in Slate that calls these lines racist and un-American. Whether or not they are racist is up for you all to decide. What they are to the airlines is another opportunity to make money of the flying public. It is for this reason that they are not going away. I don’t think Sen. Nelson expects this bill to go anywhere as well.

Every day bills are introduced in congress. They are assigned to a committee who is supposed to hold hearings on them and then either reject the bill or pass it back into the house or senate for a full vote. The majority of bills introduced never even get a hearing, they “die in committee.” My guess is we will never hear from this bill again as it too will die in committee. You can read both articles below.,0,1359084.story

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Pinnacle Airlines today filled for bankruptcy protection and reorganization under Ch. 11. See their press release here.

This bankruptcy is different from most other airline bankruptcies because of the way Pinnacle operates. Pinnacle is a regional operator, in short they operate regional service for other carriers. Pinnacle operates flights for US, DL, and UA.

These flights operate under a “capacity purchase” agreement. Delta pays Pinnacle X number of dollars to fly route aaa-bbb on XYZ plane type, once a day. This is good for Delta as they know how much the flight is going to cost them months in advance. It’s good for Pinnacle, because they know how much revenue is generated so they build a cost structure to meet it. In the event Delta doesn’t sell any tickets Pinnacle still gets paid. In the event of a huge fuel spike, Delta’s costs are the same.

Pinnacle has stated they intend to repudiate some of these capacity purchase agreements. This is interesting. First, I am not a bankruptcy nor contracts expert. Second, I do not have access to said capacity purchase agreements. In fact Pinnacle has petitioned the court to file those agreements under seal, so we the public can not view them. But to get back to the original point. Most Airline bankruptcy’s involve labor agreements and aircraft leases. A capacity purchase agreement is neither, it is a straight up sales contract. Court’s don’t like companies breaching those contracts. I am not sure how the court here will handle them.

Let’s say the contracts are invalidated.Delta would have two options find a new supplier, operate service themselves, or broker a new deal. I am going to go with option c here, broker a new deal. Delta (or UA or US) doesn’t want to operate the service themselves and it is doubtful that there are other carriers out there with excess capacity to move into the market. UA is getting express jet to pull ERJ-135s out of the desert as a stop gap measure, but there are only so many spare planes around.

Some have postulated that another carrier could take over capacity and the route. My question is why? Delta would still have to broker a new deal with the carrier. The new carrier would need more pilots and possibly a new set of regs, simulators, and other materials if it is new type for the carrier. It would be more expensive I think to do that then issue a new contract with Pinnacle. However, this has its own problems.

When did the US bankruptcy system become a way to change basic contracts. At what does the law say no, one can not use bankruptcy to avoid contractual obligations. I think the debtor should be required to make some showing that they are not abusing the system.

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The original article does a much better job explaining this.

The TSA has acted in a way no designed to protect commercial aviation security but to line its own pockets with an ever increasing share of the federal budget.

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UA and Airbus revealed today though a press release that UA intends to buy 10 A380-800 aircraft for trunk routes between the US and LHR.