Enough Already

I’m on vacation, trying to keep my pledge to relax and not think about work (very much). My last post was about the Jersey Shore and my latest visit to a presidential grave – light stuff. 

But the story about passengers stuck on a regional jet Friday night in Rochester, Minn., really has me angry. 

What angers me the most is this:  the airline involved blamed the airport, saying it was the middle of the night, the airport couldn’t take care of the passengers, there were no TSA screeners, etc.

This is bull. 

The Rochester International Airport's terminal.

The Rochester International Airport's terminal.

The airport was and is ready to receive passengers in this situation. They are an international airport open 24/7. There were clean rest rooms and vending machines available in the sterile area. The notion that the absence of TSA screeners caused this is also nonsense; the people could have been let off and remained in the secure area of the terminal. 

This airline and its personnel screwed up. It happens. When it does, you own the mistake, apologize and compensate those who paid a price for the mistake, and then set about making sure it doesn’t happen again.  I was pleased today to see that Continental is offering a refund to the passengers and a certificate for a future flight. 

What bothers me is the pattern of blaming the airport and I am tired of it.  The director of a small southern airport told me a story about being on a plane that landed early at his own airport. The pilot pulled up toward the gate but stopped short announcing that as they were early, “the airport” wasn’t ready. The airport director talked to the pilot about this; it was the airline’s ground staff that wasn’t ready for an early flight, the airport was all set. The pilot didn’t care; he said it because he could. 

The same happens when “air traffic control” is blamed for all sorts of problems, including those caused by airline over-scheduling. 

The airline business is a complex one; no doubt. Mistakes will happen. But I am tired of airlines blaming everyone else, with airports being their favorite target of choice. 

The airport in Rochester, Minn., was ready to help those people. The airline preferred to leave them on the plane and then found it easier to blame the airport and TSA. 

Shame on them. They deserve whatever remedies might be forced on them by a traveling public, and the politicians who represent then, who are fed up with such irresponsibility.

Footnotes:

  • Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in his blog today is asking for a better explanation of events from Continental and ExpressJet. He has also asked the department’s general counsel to investigate the incident to determine if either airline violated any law in its actions or inactions last Friday night.
  • New York Times columist Joe Sharkey this afternoon wrote a posting in his Boarding Area blog echoing similar thoughts to what I have said.
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2 thoughts on “Enough Already

  1. Hey – even if the terminal was closed, the pilot could have taxied over to the general aviation side of the airport and let the people off since the business over there is open 24/7. When the terminal opened, van or bus over to the terminal and voila, rescreen the people and off they go. The pilot lied here – and the pilot failed to exercise proper authority granted to her – she did what the company wanted her to do instead of what was best for the passengers. . . .

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