Tag Archives: air travel

All I could do to resist starting an in-flight incident

OK, where do I begin in telling you this brief tale of what happens when your jetliner seatmate makes what you believe is an unreasonable request?

I’ll start with this …

I boarded an Alaska Air jet this morning in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for a four-hour flight to Portland. I had booked the flight via an online agency, which means I didn’t get to select my seat; the airline did it for me.

It was a middle seat. A gentleman sat on the aisle; a lady sat at the window. They were husband and wife. The seat between ’em was vacant; it belonged to me. So, I sat down. The lady said she preferred the window, her husband liked the aisle “and no one likes the middle seat.” We both chuckled.

We took off. Then the husband and wife began passing food back and forth in front of me. Sandwiches and chips went from set of hands to the other.

Then the lady leaned over and told me that I should be sure to keep my arm off her side of the arm rest that separated her seat from mine. Sure thing, ma’am. Will do.

Then I guess I let my arm drift just a smidgen over onto her side of the arm rest. She pushed my arm back. I glared momentarily at her.

Then came the best part. The jacket I was wearing had flopped over onto her side of the arm rest. The pocket contained a couple of small items that I guess she found annoying. Then she lifted my jacket and stuffed it on my side of the arm rest.

Hmm. I glared again at her. That’s when I realized I had to sit with my arms folded across my chest. I dare not rest them at my side out of “concern” they would cross into her space.

I turned to hubby, asked him if I could get up to stretch my legs. I went to the back of the aircraft, chatted up the flight attendants who were sitting in the galley. I told one of them about my annoying seat mate; she responded with the usual “We get that on occasion” replies.

I took off my jacket, put it in the overhead bin, sat back down and then sat quietly — which is what I normally do on commercial airliners — for the duration of the flight.

Am I wrong to think the lady was being a bit too bossy?

My only regret now as I settle in for the night is that I didn’t look for a chance to tell her that “We’ll get off this plane soon and you and I will never see each other ever again.” 

Miracle on Aeromexico flight

So often — too often, it seems — the world goes into mourning when we hear of a fiery jetliner crash. Not so with an Aeromexico flight that crashed and burned in Mexico.

All the passengers and crew survived the crash in Durango, Mexico. That’s 103 people. Thus, we have a reason to smile and to thank the Almighty for this miraculous event.

That said, it sort of reminds me of an event I covered years ago while working as a reporter in Oregon. A DC-8 jetliner crashed into a heavily wooded east Portland neighborhood in the winter of 1978. Ten people died in the crash; many times more than that survived. CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite called it the “miracle on Burnside Street.” Yes, my heart broke at the sight of the deceased victims who were laid out on the ground at the crash site.

A reporter asked one of the survivors a few days later if she was more fearful of flying. Her response was classic. She wondered, are you kidding? She then said the chances of her being involved in a single jetliner crash were astronomical. That she ever would be involved in two of them were even greater than that!

That passenger, I submit, embodied eternal optimism.

They’re pitching this new flight service — seriously!

I’ve lived in Amarillo, Texas for more than 23 years.

During that time I have not seen such a concerted advertising campaign to pitch airline service out of this city’s international airport.

Until now.

American Airlines is about to launch new daily non-stop service from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. It’s a big deal. I’ve said as much already on this blog. I get the attraction for business travelers as well as for families seeking quick and convenient air service to a vacation destination.

AMA: economic lure for Amarillo

This new service appears to hold considerable promise for the airline and for the city. I appreciate and understand the value of modern, convenient air service. We have it here, to the great credit of City Hall and the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

That promise must explain the TV advertising I keep seeing.

It  makes me curious as to why.

  • Delta Airlines once launched daily non-stop service between AMA and Memphis, Tenn. It didn’t take. Delta terminated the service after a brief period of time. Then the airline stopped flying to Amarillo altogether.
  • Southwest has been flying daily to Las Vegas out of Amarillo for several years. I haven’t seen the TV ads promoting that service.
  • United has flown non-stop to Denver for some time, too. No ads. Now the airline is flying non-stop to George Bush-Houston Intercontinental Airport; it assumed that service when United merged with Continental Airlines. No ads, either.

Perhaps we are witnessing a new, more aggressive marketing strategy with American’s new service between AMA and PHX.

Given that TV ad time doesn’t come cheap, I hope the investment pays off for the entire city.

This isn’t ‘customer service,’ United Airlines

You’ve just taken your seat on a commercial jetliner. The plane is full. The crew gets on the public-address system and asks passengers to give up their seats in exchange for an $800 travel voucher.

No one takes the offer. The plane is overbooked. The airline, United Airlines, needs to find four seats for UAL employees to occupy to fly to their destination.

No one takes volunteers to leave. So what does UAL do? It selects four passengers randomly. The airline demands they leave. Most of them do, begrudgingly. Then they approach a gentleman, a physician whose name was drawn. He says he won’t get off; he has patients to see at the other end of the flight.

The airline then calls the cops, who struggled with the guy and dragged him off the plane.

Customer service, anyone? is this how you treat folks who shell out good money to use your product, which happens to be an overbooked jetliner?

This incident erupted at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The plane was bound for Louisville, Ky.

How does the airline justify what occurred?

Someone has some explaining to do

I believe I have a solution: How about United — and all other commercial air carriers, for that matter — stop the practice of “overbooking” their flights? I understand the need to ensure a full airplane, but this is the kind of story that surprises me in one way: I’m surprised we haven’t more of these kinds of incidents already.

The doc had to get to his destination because he had patients waiting for him. Couldn’t the airline have picked another name? Couldn’t it have found another way to get their employees to Louisville?

Some passengers recorded the incident on their cell phones. Some of them were heard yelling their anger at the airline for the rough manner in which they treated the doctor. They were outraged, I’m telling ya.

Interesting, yes? Any one of them perhaps could have given up their seat to avoid the disgraceful behavior and the humiliation suffered by the physician on board. But they didn’t.

Meanwhile, United Airlines had better offer some justification for treating a paying customer in such a brutish manner.

Now it's an AirAsia plane that's disappeared

What in the name of “safe” air travel is happening in Southeast Asian air space?

An AirAsia Airbus 320 has disappeared. Remember the Malaysian Air 370 tragedy this past March? And the Malaysian Air 17 plane that was shot down over Ukraine?

Now another Malaysia-based airliner is having to console family members until they can account for the whereabouts of an AirAsia Flight 8512 carrying 162 passengers and crew.


It’s impossible to understand any of this.

The Airbus was flying through apparently some horrific weather conditions en route from Indonesia to Singapore. It had been in the air about 42 minutes when it vanished. Pfftt! Just like that. Gone.

There was no pre-disappearance communication from the flight deck. Nothing was said. Ground crews had the plane on their radar screens. Then it was gone. Off the grid.

My heart breaks for those awaiting word on the whereabouts of the plane. It’s impossible to believe anything good can come from this — other than some closure for those who need to know the fate of this airplane.


FCC has lost its collective mind

I have drawn this clear and unequivocal conclusion about the Federal Communications Commission.

Most of its members have lost their minds. They need to be committed, institutionalized, given treatment. They need an intervention of some kind.

This news is horrifying to the extreme.

The FCC has voted 3-2 to consider lifting its ban on in-flight cell phone use by airline passengers.


I’ll concede right now that humanity has made plenty of terrible decisions. Enslaving human beings perhaps is tops. Going to war is right up there.

However, I’m thinking that the day we allow passengers to yap to their hearts’ content at 30,000 feet above the planet’s surface while sitting in cramped seats next to other passengers just might rank with the worst decisions in all of human history.

What might happen next? Beats me. The FCC vote means only that the panel will consider it. The Federal Aviation Administration has to sign off on it as well, given that the FAA regulate air travel.

I’ve said before that a decision to allow this kind of activity aboard commercial aircraft is likely to spell the end of my domestic air travel forever. I also know that I hardly am alone in this belief.

Flight attendants and their union leadership are adamantly opposed to allowing it. I daresay that flight deck officers are opposed as well. I also believe a majority of air passengers oppose this notion.

So, how is it that the FCC even can consider this ridiculous notion?

Therein may lie the origin of the assertion I made at the top of this blog.

Three of the FCC’s five members have lost their minds.

Please, please, FAA: no cellphones in flight

The Federal Aviation Administration has just removed restrictions on the use of electronic devices in flight.

Airplane passengers now can play Internet games, surf the Web, send emails … all that kind of stuff.

Has doomsday just inched a little closer?

I refer to the possibility of the FAA lifting restrictions on in-flight cellphone use. I hereby beg the flight regulators to never, ever let that occur.

I am ignorant as to how the technology works at 30,000-plus feet in the air. I guess these gadgets can pick up a signal from somewhere to operate. As for cellphones, I always have presumed they run on towers back on Earth. You get too far from a tower and you lose your connection.

There’s a fundamental issue involved with allowing cellphones aboard commercial airliners. It’s called “passenger safety.”

So help me — and I’m not alone in stating this — I don’t know what I would do if I had to sit for any length of time next to a passenger gabbing on a cellphone about nothing in particular.

I hope my fear about the FAA’s next step is unfounded. I hope the regulators understand the risk that passengers are putting on themselves if the FAA allows them to gab incessantly on cellphones while cruising tens of thousands of feet above Earth’s surface.

I’m OK with allowing emails and Internet surfing. But the FAA has just reached the outer limit of what I believe is acceptable aboard a commercial airplane.

Feds block airline merger

The federal government’s intervention in the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways leaves me a bit puzzled.

The link attached to this blog notes that the feds want to prevent further escalation of air fares, which they believe will occur with this merger; but previous mergers have had precisely that effect already.


Amarillo is served by American Airlines, which flies several times a day to and from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The city has skin in American’s future here, given that we once subsidized – through economic development money collected from sales tax revenue – jet service between AMA and DFW.

On one hand, I applaud the government for looking out for the flying public. On other hand, the feds seem a bit tardy in joining this fight, given the direction air fares already have gone during the past decade.

My wife and I have made something of a pact between us already that from here on, virtually all our future travel throughout North America will be aboard our shiny new travel vehicle. We plan to spend extensive time on the road from this day forward.

But we do have some overseas destinations on our agenda. We’ll make that decision when the time is right.

But the airlines that serve AMA need not look to us to spend much time sitting in cramped seats, with our knees tucked up under our chins – all the while having to pay extra for a bag of peanuts.

I reckon we’re not alone in our view of air travel these days. I also am presuming that the marketplace will determine whether we continue to pay through the nose for air travel.