Flying the Friendly Skies

Once upon a time it really was a case of flying the friendly skies.

(CNN) — There was a time when airline travel was a special treat, the kind of occasion that inspired passengers to dress up.

Now, the awe people once felt about flying through the clouds is tempered by additional fees, cramped seats and horrifying tales of fellow travelers.

Take, for instance, “Mr. Poopy Pants” — a grown man who allegedly soiled himself 10 minutes into a flight from Florida to Minnesota. And then he just sat there.

“We’ve all had our flying hell experiences,” said Gregg Rottler, creator of FlightsFromHell.com.

The site provides a venue for people to share their tales of woe, said Rottler. “It’s therapeutic … so it benefits them and provides entertainment value for others.”

Rottler, a 54-year-old environmental health supervisor in Tampa, Florida, launched the site more than two years ago. Since then, FlightsFromHell.com has attracted submissions from passengers and flight attendants that have run the gamut, touching on categories that include “odors,” “attendant issues,” “weird people,” and “luggage and delays.”

Among the story headlines: “Titanic toddler creates tumult,” “Wifey punched by elderly ‘sleepwalker,’ ” and “Lip-locked tousle-haired 20-somethings.”

“There’s something about being scrunched up with strangers … The seats aren’t that big, and once someone starts going wacko, it just creates an extremely stressful environment that was already stressful enough,” Rottler said.

The Growing Hazard of Bird Strike

I don’t know about you but flying is stressful enough without having to worry about the growing hazard of Bird Strike. I already worry about dealing with all of the normal crap associated with flying like crowded planes and interminably long security lines.

On really bad days I wonder if the man with the crazy eyes plans on trying to hijack my plane. And let me tell you Mr. Crazy Eyes, not only am I watching you, but I have a plane to take you down hard and fast.

And it is not the sort of hard and fast that makes your wife hate that little blue pill either. No, it is swift and severe, prompt and persuasive. You won’t like it all, Mr. Crazy Eyes. But I digress.

Now, I have to worry that a flock of birds might disable my plane and cause to hurtle through the sky wing over wing into a river or some farmers’ field. And I have to worry about this without the reassurance of the crocodile hunter or Marlin Perkins.

But because I like to share the good and the bad allow me to provide you with more insight as to what I am talking about.

But among the surprises was the fact that the incident appeared to be caused not by terror attack or mechanical failure, but by a wayward flock of geese. (See pictures of the plane crash in the Hudson River.)

While the National Transportation Board has yet to conduct a full investigation, authorities believe the geese were sucked into the plane’s two jet engines, causing immediate engine failure, shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia airport. The aircraft, an Airbus A320, has engines designed to sustain damage from a bird weighting up to a four pounds, according to Todd Curtis, founder of Airsafe.com and an aviation safety expert. Canadian geese — the suspected culprits — weigh an average of 10 pounds. More than 219 people have been killed worldwide as a result of wildlife strikes since 1988, according to the volunteer organization Bird Strike Committee USA.

Still Flying The Unfriendly Skies

Here at the glorious chateau that we call The Shack we continue to bring you news, feature stories and our opinion about the good old airline industry.

CNN has the news about the findings of a federal task force whose job was to develop a plan for assisting passengers. Specifically those passengers who are trapped inside planes that are stuck on the tarmac.

Let me sum things up for you. It was a Federal task force so our tax dollars were spent to fund it. After almost a year of meeting they failed to come up with any requirements for the airlines and airports, just a few recommendations.

“The tarmac task force, as it is informally known, is expected to vote Wednesday on guidelines for airlines and airports on how to craft their own contingency plans for dealing with lengthy tarmac delays.

Among the problems: The task force was unable to agree on whether “lengthy” is one hour, two hours or 10 hours.

Kate Hanni, a task force member and passenger rights advocate, said Tuesday there is nothing in the draft document that requires airlines or airports to provide additional services for passengers stranded aboard airplanes going nowhere.

The report “is a set of best practices, but there’s nothing enforceable where a passenger can say, ‘I won’t be held up for more than three hours or five hours or eight hours, or without a glass of water or a sandwich,”‘ said Hanni, founder of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights.

“We were hoping at a bare minimum to come out of this task force with a definition of what is an extensive on-ground delay,” Hanni said, but that didn’t happened because the airline industry “doesn’t want anything that is remotely enforceable.”

The 36-member task force was created last December by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to develop model plans for airlines and airports after several incidents in which passengers were stuck for hours before their flight took off or they were allowed to get off the plane.

Task force members said it quickly became apparent that the group — dominated by airline industry and airport representatives — would be unable to come up with a model plan acceptable to a majority of members.”

If you read through the story you’ll see that among the recommendations are that the airlines try to keep the bathrooms usable, provide refreshments and keep the passengers notified about what is going on.

Hmm…they used to call those things customer service. This is all part of why I have grown to dislike flying. It used to be fun and now it has become a task that has to be endured.

Other Posts about Flying
Cruising At 34,000 Feet
Deciphering Frequent Flier Programs
All My Bags Are Packed
Airplane Trouble? Kill a Goat
Flying The Unfriendly Skies
Crying Child Forces Family From Plane
The Land of Lost Luggage
Airlines Continue To Rob The Public
The Joys of Flying Commercial Airlines

The Joys of Flying Commercial Airlines

CNN has an article in which they offer tips for cranky passengers. Some of them are common sense type tips such as to make sure that you know your rights, pack light and prepare for the worst.

Well, I don’t know about you but I find it offensive to be told to prepare for the worse. It may be practical, it may be sensible, but it irritates the heck out of me to think that I need to do so.

The airlines continue to cry about being impoverished all the while they cut back on the things that you used to be able to count upon. Food, pillows, blankets and space seem to disappear but the price continues to go up.

I remember when flying used to be fun. It used to be quite enjoyable, but not I see it as having become quite the chore. Something isn’t right about this. There has to be a better way to do things. There has to be something that can be done.

Stop telling me that fuel and security have made it what it is. I wasn’t the CEO of the airlines that were hijacked and used as flying bombs. It wasn’t my responsibility to ensure that my crew and passengers were safe.

It wasn’t my responsibility to see that we ran things smartly. It is not my responsibility to see that customer service is more than a pipe dream.

^$*&U^$$#%U&^$U*^$U*& is what I have to say to all that.

For those who are interested here are some related links.

Cruising At 34,000 Feet
All My Bags Are Packed
Airplane Trouble? Kill a Goat
Flying The Unfriendly Skies
Crying Child Forces Family From Plane
The Land of Lost Luggage