OVER THE YEARS I have traveled many miles in airplanes of many types, from Douglas Commercial DC-3 “Gooney Birds” (c 1952), Fairchild C-119s, Lockheed Super Constellations (L-1049) and L-1011s, to Boeing 7x7s and Airbus 3xxs.
I’ve also flown tail-dragger Aronica Champions and Piper Cub J-3s, but they only have two seats so they are “out of scope” for this rant.
I cannot understand why, in this “age of computers (where nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go ..)” airlines have to remove seated passengers to make room for either other passengers or free-flying airline employees.
It simply does not compute.
Most flights found room for stand-bys.
As passengers are called to board, their airline-issued boarding passes are checked by an airline employee, No boarding pass, no boarding. The passes normally are scanned by a reader connected to a computer so any double-booked seats SHOULD generate an alarm.
Passengers show their boarding pass to a flight attendant (FA) at the aircraft’s door and the FA directs the passenger to his or her seat.
Before the door is closed, the FAs do a head count — seat by seat. If there is a problem, e.g., two passengers booked into the same seat, an all too frequent situation with some airlines, the FAs sort things out, typically by finding an empty seat “somewhere” on board. (In all my years I never have seen an FA ask a passenger to deplane because of an airline seat error.)
Still, if even 10% of the many reports of abuse by FAs are accurate, then the airlines need to educate the FAs to better represent their employer to the people who ultimately pay the FA’s salaries.
Calling on pseudo-police — in the United scandal, the “police” were not police and had been forbidden to wear clothing marked “Police” — is entirely inappropriate. If a passenger needs to be removed for cause — not just “because some airline employee wanted the PAYING passenger’s seat” — then call real police, sworn officers. Leave the “rent-a-cops” drinking coffee.
There are, most assuredly FAs who are having a bad day, but what has happened lately on several major U.S. airlines is more than a bad hair day for the FAs.
- The SkyTrax web site offers an A-Z Airline Quality Rating of airlines throughout the world. According to SkyTrax, the rating are based on quality of the carrier’s front-line product and staff service standards.
Understand that all airlines can give sub-par service from time to time. Surly FAs, delayed flights, too long waiting to take off and too long waiting to get off the plane. Some airlines ignore the jetways at modern airports and still force passengers to disembark via stairs and then bus to the terminal. (One airline did offer a handicapped passenger a lift with a special truck. Interesting solution to a common problem.)
ON THE OTHER HAND there is a famous story of a family of Delta passengers who, although bumped from their flight, still like Delta. The Forbes story’s headline reads: Why Delta Air Lines Paid Me $11,000 Not To Fly To Florida This Weekend
* Airlines were “forced” to overbook by potential passengers who booked a trip on several airlines (back when there was more competition). To counter that, the airlines sold more tickets than seats on the premise that some customers would be no shows. If the airlines guessed wrong, they offered compensation to passengers willing to catch a later flight, but in no event did the airline remove a passenger already buckled in. If a passenger got on board, the passenger stayed on board.
Two girls barred from United flight for wearing leggings (UAL later changed its corporate mind and now allows leggings.)
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