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Here We Go Again: Plane Diverted due to Threatening Note

February 19, 2010 | Posted in: Delays,News,Security,Travel Safety,United | 0 comments

plane diverted threatening note

This latest incident occurred aboard a United flight from Denver to San Francisco, yesterday morning:

Crew members found what has only been described as a “threatening note” in the galley, and the pilot decided to be on the safe side and diverted to Salt Lake City.

You know the drill: the plane was searched for explosives, and nothing was found. And nobody owned up to writing the note so there were no arrests.

Meantime, the passengers were obviously delayed in getting to their destination – by almost ten hours.

Here’s an idea – make ‘em pay: In cases like this, if they find the perpetrator – how about every passenger gets $100 per hour of delay, plus a free plane ticket – and the airline is reimbursed for “diversion” costs – all of it paid for by the note writer?

Airline Safety News: Accidents Down 36% in Last Ten Years

February 18, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Travel Safety | 0 comments

airline safety accidents

The latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that 2009 had the second lowest airline worldwide accident rate in aviation history (this rate includes Western-built aircraft only).

The 2009 rate of accidents was 0.71 which means one accident per every 1.4 million flights. 2006 had a slightly better rate – but the 2009 figures mean 36% fewer accidents since the year 2000.

Good, but not good enough according to Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General, who said, “The ultimate goal [is] zero accidents and zero fatalities.”

Note: the accident rates for both North America and Europe were substantially lower than the overall worldwide rate.

Canadian Airline Boots Passenger for Being “Too Smelly to Fly”

canadian airline boots passenger too smelly to fly

What a stink – first Southwest boots Hollywood’s Kevin Smith for being “too fat to fly” (without purchasing a second seat, anyway) – and now, Canada’s CBC News reports that a man was ejected from an Air Canada Jazz flight for being “too smelly to fly.”

Details are sketchy, as they say – but the incident occurred sometime earlier this month, just before take-off at Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) on a flight to Montreal.

We do know our friend with the bad odor was an American, and that he really exuded quite a stink because “efforts were made to isolate the man from other passengers” but apparently that wasn’t good enough – so, he got the boot.

The good news is the man apparently lost his stink overnight (or perhaps he took a shower), and was allowed to fly the next morning – which I suppose is the very definition of the “sweet smell of success”.

I wonder what flight attendants find more disagreeable – having to tell someone they’re too fat? Or too smelly?

Attention: Random Roving Security Swabbers Swarm Airports

February 17, 2010 | Posted in: DOT,Security,Travel Safety | 2 comments

security swab airports

Get ready for yet another “layer of security.”

In the next few weeks, reports USA Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will expland a test program nationwide, which involves checking for explosives by taking random chemical swabs of passengers’ hands and baggage.

“Screeners will push carts with bomb-detection machines around airport gates and checkpoint lines to randomly check passengers’ hands and carry-on bags for explosive residue.” - USA Today, 2-17-10

The point, I suppose, is to create a little insecurity among the bad guys, who might otherwise figure they were home free since they already got past the security line. It also gives TSA a second chance, in case they missed anything the first go round.

One of my employees reminds me that last fall, TSA officers were randomly checking passengers’ water bottles in the gate area:

“I’ll never forget how nervous I was when the security guy politely asked to see my water bottle because, I didn’t have one,” she said, “He insisted I did. A search of my purse proved otherwise, and he went away in a huff.”

Passengers on Flight Heard “Kind of a Bang” – Plane Diverted

February 3, 2010 | Posted in: Airline News,Passengers,Travel Safety | 0 comments

passengers flight bang plane diverted

A plane was diverted earlier today, but this time it wasn’t a passenger or security issue.

First of all, no injuries of any kind have been reported in this incident, which began not long after an American Airlines plane heading from Dallas to Seattle reached its cruising level. That’s when passengers and crew heard what the Denver Post said one passenger described as “kind of a bang”.

No one panicked and the pilot made a safe landing in Oklahoma City, to the applause of those onboard. At the moment, it’s not clear what prompted the noise, but the plane reportedly lost cabin pressure, and American has pulled this MD-80 from service for a thorough inspection.

Exclusive: Rick Seaney Survives Body Scan Imaging – His Story

February 2, 2010 | Posted in: Security,Travel Safety | 19 comments

rick seaney body scan imaging

I just got back from a business trip to Singapore – a full 14 time zones ahead of Dallas – and it was a fascinating trip (though I’m glad to be home).

But what everyone wants to know is, did I have to “endure” one of those new body scan imaging machines? I did indeed – and later, I underwent a full body pat-down.

Both took about the same amount of time – although, after removing laptop, belt, shoes, whatever – it’s hard to tell what takes longer:-o .

Keep reading – I will describe the two very different security procedures, as best I can – and I’ll also let you know which one I preferred…

Exclusive: Rick Seaney Survives Body Scan Imaging – His Story

A Tale of Two Diverted Flights (Security/Passenger Problems)

diverted flights security passenger problems

As if there weren’t enough hassles to flying, here’s an update on two recently diverted flights:

Diverted Flight #1: Over the weekend, a Continental flight from Newark to Bogota was diverted to Jacksonville because a “potential person of interest” was aboard, according to the news hounds at CNN.

Turns out it was a “case of mistaken identity” but that’s about it in terms of an explanation. Mistaken identity or not, how is it that this fellow was allowed to board in the first place, without additional scrutiny? The TSA is investigating.

Diverted Flight #2: This occurred in India earlier this year, when a SpiceJet plane (love that name) was diverted after at least some members of a football team allegedly “misbehaved with an airhostess”.

The Times of India reports that the pilot decided an unscheduled stop in Mumbai was called for, and the entire team was invited to deplane. A team spokesman said they are “contemplating the possibility of filing defamation case against SpiceJet for allegedly harassing its players”.

FAA Hits American Eagle with Big Fine – Bag Weight Issue

February 1, 2010 | Posted in: DOT,Travel Safety | 0 comments

FAA American Eagle Fine Bag Weight

That “activist” Transportation Department of ours is making news again.

The FAA wants us to know that it has proposed a nearly $2.5 million civil penalty against American Eagle Airlines for allegedly operating flights without ensuring that “the weight of the baggage was properly calculated” (the problem has since been corrected).

Specifically, the FAA says that on more than 100 of the airline’s flights, the baggage weight listed on its “cargo load sheets” allegedly differed from data entered into the company’s Electronic Weight and Balance System. If the wrong data is put in the EWBS, it could result in “incorrect computation of the weight and balance of a particular aircraft” and that could ultimately lead to “faulty calculations for the proper control settings and reference speeds necessary for safe takeoffs and landings.”

Doesn’t sound good.

And this sounds even worse: again, according to the FAA – once the situation was brought to the attention of American Eagle, the airline allegedly operated dozens more flights before correcting the problem.

UPDATE: American Eagle says the civil penalties are “excessive and inappropriate”; a spokesman stressed the airline’s strong commitment to safety and added, in part:

“The vast majority of the discrepancies cited by the FAA involved baggage handlers not reflecting on a paper document the addition of late arriving bags or valet bags – which were accurately recorded in the electronic system on which all flight and operating calculations are based. American Eagle is confident that our employees loaded the flights in question safely and that the data input into the electronic weight and balance system for these flights were accurate and posed no safety hazard to these flights.” –Andrea Huguely, American Eagle

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