Tag Archives: Delta

DRUNKEN PILOTS! “SAY IT’S NOT SO”

American Eagle pilot accosted by the airport authorities:

The recent interception of a potentially drunk pilot by airport authorities is one more black mark on American Eagle Airlines. American Eagle is renowned for engaging in maximum exploitation of their pilots. Or, as the Harvard business school mantra of the mid-70s stated: “Maximum utilization of human resources.” Perhaps the draconian work conditions and a meager salary led this pilot “to drink.” Perhaps the layover in Minneapolis, St. Paul in the middle of a cold, depressing winter left him in the clinically acknowledged state referred to as “SAD” and a few hot toddies was needed to help them avoid deep depression.
The vast majority of today’s airline pilots are extremely conscientious and very few of them ever report for work, even a little bit hung over. The obsolete FAA regulations still say, “eight hours between the bottle and the throttle,” but most airlines have a 12 hour window from alcohol consumption to climbing into the cockpit. Delta has a 24-hour policy, which probably should be adopted by all airlines— perhaps with the caveat of one glass of wine or a beer with dinner. The “glory days” of the airline culture that involved “fast-lane partying” are in the dustbin of aviation history. Pilots and flight attendants on layovers rarely engage in excessive consumption of alcohol.
Perhaps this pilot, and/or his fellow flight crew members were influenced by the relative success of “Whip Whittaker” a.k.a Denzel Washington in the movie Flight as he landed his crippled airplane under the influence of alcohol, marijuana in cocaine. This aviation themed movie was actually an in-depth look at the nuances of substance abuse of a free-spirited pilot. The poignant scenarios throughout the movie, has very possibly resulted in abstinence for many people who were once substance abusers. Unfortunately, the American Eagle pilot, Captain Kristiansen, is now caught up in pathos and emotional turmoil, as his aviation career is likely to be permanently derailed.
While there are many reasons and explanations for a pilot reporting to duty in a state other than perfectly sober, there are no acceptable excuses. A professional pilot must dedicate himself to being prepared at the highest level possible for every flight.
This blog is prepared by Allen Morris, a.k.a. Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: In the Back Alleys of Aviation (www.therogueaviator.com) and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue- Aviation’s Insidious Killer (www.deadtiredpilots.com)

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION’S BLIGHT: REGIONAL CARRIERS

A popular commuter turboprop, the Dornier

COMMERCIAL AVIATION’S BLIGHT-REGIONAL CARRIERS

Once again, a regional airline has embarrassed the aviation community. A Saab 340 aircraft operated by Silver Airways landed at the wrong airport in West Virginia. Silver Airways flight # 4049 was en route to the North Central West Virginia airport but landed at to the Fairmont  Municipal-Frankman Field airport by mistake. The two airports are only 5 miles apart so it was an easy mistake to make, particularly at the dastardly hour of midnight. Did pilot fatigue play a role in this accident? Very possibly!

The company spokesman referred to the incident as a diversion—a nice euphemism for chaos in the cockpit— resulting in the most embarrassing situation a pilot can encounter. An additional element of this incident is the local area folks were all excited about their new air service that Silver Airways was providing as a feeder airline for United Airlines. While no one was hurt in this incident it did validate the widely understood premise that when you climb aboard that regional airline, even though it might have the markings of a major airline, it is operated by a subcontractor, which is quite frequently underfunded and under staffed, often with inexperienced people.

Silver Airways is an offshoot of Gulfstream International, a Fort Lauderdale-based airline that recently closed its doors. Another regional airline icon, Comair finally shut its doors. Comair was a very large commuter operation that serviced the Delta Airline passengers to the smaller airports in the South East U.S. A sad chapter to their legacy is that they were notorious for exploiting their pilots. They offered inexperienced pilots the opportunity to pay a sum in the vicinity of $25,000 to get trained in one of their airplanes that was used to carry passengers on their “milk-runs.” After completion of training the pilot was then offered a job with the airline at a pay scale that was well below the poverty level. For further elucidation on this policy, please see Peter Buffington’s book, Squawk 7700; this book is a scathing expose’ of the regional carriers.

If the safety quotient when travelling on the major airlines is a 9.7 out of 10, it might well shrink to a 1.7 when you travel on the commuter aircraft. The last 6 fatal airline crashes on domestic U.S. flights has been on regional carriers. I have several ex-airline colleagues that will drive five hours rather than travel on a regional airline. PBS Frontline has produced a brilliant expose’ of the commuter/regional airline situation. This program, hosted by Miles O’Brien, was a follow-up to the Continental Flight 3407 (Colgan Air) crash in Buffalo, New York. It is accessible by going to PBS.ORG. The regional air carrier phenomenon in the U.S. remains as a festering sore for the aviation community despite the many hard-working professionals that toil in the onerous work conditions that they must endure.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer.

AIRLINE TRAVEL TIPS

As airline travel becomes even more fraught with  obstacles and sources of frustation, the ability to adapt to the onerous slings and arrows of commercial air travel becomes necessary. The first axiom for improved quality air travel is : Get to the airport early and immediately go to the zen-mode of “every little thing is going to be OK.” Greet all airport personnel with a big smile and thank them profusely for their wonderful customer service. When entering the aircraft, give the flight crew a very noticeably pleasant greeting. Your relationship with them, albeit of short-term duration, can play a critical role in your quality of life for the next few hours. it is equally important to have a diversion from cabin activity and the best source is a copy of The Rogue Aviator by Ace Abbott.

Recent news vignettes have revealed that is now quite common for flight crews to remove passengers from their airplane and numerous enroute diversions to disembark unruly passengers is also a frequent event. As the cabins become even  more stuffed with people and their stuff, it won’t get any better. It may be getting a little better regading the airlines “shell game” of ticket pricing. The follwing article extracted from Yahoo and produced by Lylah M Alphonse will provide guidance regarding some new rules that the airlines are supposed to abide by regarding pricing

“TREAT THE FLIGHT ATTENDANTS NICELY”

. Her article points out that the airlines are now going to have more difficulty camouflaging their actual ticket price.

New airfare rules are set to go into effect on Tuesday and this time, instead of making things more complicated(or more expensive), they aim to make things easier for passengers.

The new rules eliminate some of the fine print that comes with booking flights online, and “eliminates a lot of the skulduggery from airline pricing,” Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance told the Associated Press. They involve disclosing hidden fees, notifying customers about delays, and making advertising prices more accurate. 

Related: 35 secrets your pilot won’t tell you

Some airlines are fighting the changes — Southwest, Spirit Airlines, and Allegiant Air argue that other industries don’t have to include taxes on advertised prices. And David Berg, the general counsel of Airlines for America, a trade group of the biggest carriers, warned that the new rules will hurt the travel industry.

“It’s basic economics,” he told the AP. “History tells us (that consumers) will see higher prices and buy less.”

Here’s what you really need to know about the new airfare rules:

1. Airlines will have to include taxes and fees in their advertised prices. But starting Thursday, consumers will have a more-accurate idea of how much their tickets will really cost. The change applies to mandatory fees, however, not optional charges for bags and on-board entertainment — though those fees must be more prominently displayed on airline websites as well, and they can’t automatically be tacked on to your fare. Some airlines are concerned that customers won’t understand what the higher prices are really all about. “We’re not raising our fares, but it will look to the consumer like we’ve had a big price increase,” Robert Kneisley, Southwest’s associate general counsel, told the Associated Press.

2. You’ll have 24 hours to cancel your reservation. As long as you’ve booked your flight at least a week in advance, you’ll be able to hold your reservation (without having to pay for it) or cancel it without a penalty for 24 hours after making it — even if you’ve made the reservation through a travel website instead of directly with the airline.

3. Airlines have to tell passengers promptly about delays. With the new rules, airlines will have to notify you by email, over the phone, or with a sign at the airport if there are any delays longer than 30 minutes. They also have to let passengers and the public know quickly if there are flight cancellations, if flights are diverted, or if a plane is delayed on the tarmac.

4. Baggage fees must be disclosed in advance. Instead of finding out about checked-baggage fees when you’re at the curb or counter, airlines now must let you know how much you’ll pay for your luggage when you make your reservation. (It can be pricey: Continental charges economy passengers $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second, as does Delta. American Airlines charges $25 for the first, $35 for the second, and a whopping $150 for the third — and that doesn’t count additional fees for extra-heavy bags.) The new rules also state that airlines have to disclose any baggage fees you might have if you’re changing flights or switching from a major airline to one of their affiliates during a single trip.

5. Airlines can’t raise prices after you’ve purchased your tickets. It sounds crazy, but it can happen: Some airlines stipulate in their contracts that they can raise prices after you’ve booked your flight, and charge you the difference before you board. According to the Associated Press, Allegiant Air has considered raising prices on already-purchased seats if oil prices rose.

This blog is prepare by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueaviator.com)