Ciao: Flying high and paying high, too

BILL KLAUBER

Strange things seem to be happening in the air these days. It must be the altitude or perhaps a problem with the decompression in the cabins. Whatever it is, it seems to be affecting passengers and crews alike.

Oh, I am not referring to air sickness or discomfort, I’m talking about behavioral problems.

Take the high profile actor, for example, who recently ignored the instructions of the flight crew and refused to turn off his “electronic device” while preparing for takeoff. What was with him?

Even the flight crews have been acting wild and weird. Two recent incidents on JetBlue are disturbing examples which leads to the suggestion that JetBlue might want to change to a brighter color.

One involved a flight attendant who was frustrated by problems he had with passengers. Upon landing in New York, after a few profanity laced words to all in the cabin over the plane’s intercom, he abandoned his airship via the emergency evacuation chute, even before the passengers disembarked. Whatever happened to the old-passengers-first-and-crew-last requirement.

And again on JetBlue just last month, the pilot “went berserk” and had to be restrained by passengers after telling them that a bomb would be exploded on board and that the plane was doomed. He was eventually subdued, but only after the copilot had to change the lock to keep him out of the cockpit.

While that was a good idea on that flight, on a Delta flight from Asheville, N.C., to LaGuardia Airport in New York last fall, the problem was the pilot was locked out of the cockpit and locked into the lavatory.

He started banging on the door which finally got the attention of a nearby passenger. Unable to open the door the passenger went, as instructed by the trapped pilot, to inform the cockpit crew that the pilot was stuck in the bathroom. This prompted the co-pilot to suspect that the pilot had been subdued and that the plane was being hijacked.

He notified air traffic control which instructed the co-pilot to make an emergency landing. This was averted when the pilot at last was able to break out of the bathroom and convince the ground authorities that all was under control — or at least that the crew was in control. Unconvinced, the police and FBI met the plane when it arrived at LaGuardia.

By the way, there was no announcement of whether the passengers on any of those flights mentioned were charged an extra fee for excitement or entertainment. However, it would be no surprise if there was not at least an attempt to levy such a charge. After all, today airlines charge fees for just about anything and everything.

First you pay for the flight itself, then there are additional charges to check bags (and on some to stow carryons in the overhead bins), for advance seat selection, even for any seat unless you are willing to settle for a middle seat or one on the wing. Food and beverages can be extra, even bottled water on some airlines.

And now prices are decoupled from the taxes and those are increasing, too. Of course this does let you know how much our government is charging to keep us safe and off the roads.

However, things here could be worse. On a Comtel Air flight traveling from India to England last year, the flight landed in Vienna for refueling where the charter service asked the passengers to pay an additional $31,000 to pay for the fuel. In order to raise the money passengers were required to deplane to access cash machines in the airport.

That could never happen here. Our airlines would never ask us to deplane. They all have credit card machines on board.

Pan Am, once one of our leading airlines, had as its slogan, It Pays to Fly.

My slogan is We Pay to Fly — Over and Over Again.

Ciao!

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features