Goodness me, Could This be Industrial Disease?

11:00 PM

There are times in this aviation world when you see something so crazy, so outrageous and so unnecessary, it makes you wonder how some airlines remain in business. This week's example of customer service wrapped in dog poop is the ridiculous episode that saw 47 passengers become hostages on a Continental flight being flown by Expressjet.

In a nutshell, the flight departed Houston on a late night three-hour hop up to Minneapolis, but weather caused the flight to divert to Rochester, MN. Kudos to the system for having pilots and dispatchers in place that can look at WX and make this kind of decision. However, that would be the last correct decision anyone would make in this calamity.

The flight taxied to within 50 yards of the gate, but because of a reported lack of staff and no TSA on duty, the pax were forced to sit on the RJ..and sit...and sit. From the Houston Chronicle, we get this:
"Steve Leqve woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday to a ringing phone and a friend on the line begging him to get her and 46 other passengers released from a cramped Continental Express plane sitting outside the Rochester, Minn., airport terminal. By the time the woman contacted Leqve, the airport's manager, the airplane had been parked on the Rochester tarmac for more than four hours, as babies wailed and the cabin reeked from a single onboard toilet that didn't flush. The tarmac wait lasted another two hours."
See, in a customer service-based world, the airline would have rustled a gate agent and any goober who can drive a jetway out of bed and had them haul ass to the airport to let these people inside the terminal. And who cares that there was no TSA on duty, the gate area I assume was a secure area, so that excuse is completely absurd.

The KRST management told the Chronicle in no uncertain terms just who was to blame here:
"Leqve declined to identify the passenger who called him after four hours aboard the plane. He said he began making inquiries, but had to tell his friend he did not have the authority to order the jet to pull up to a gate and allow the passengers off. “This is not an airport issue; this is an airline issue,” Leqve said. “We don't park airplanes. We just maintain the building.” Leqve said all decisions to keep the passengers aboard were made by Continental Airlines dispatchers in Minneapolis."
I have to agree, this is pathetic service at it's worst. It's this kind of stumbling airline decision that makes me think about a song that may well define much of the Brass at so many American corporations. It's the classic manta of any gigantic reaking monolith with clueless management who ends up doing more harm than good...a great classic rock sung with passion some years ago by Dire Straights:
"Warning lights are flashing down at quality control - Somebody threw a spanner and they threw him in the hole - There's rumors in the loading bay and anger in the town - Somebody blew the whistle and the walls came down - There's a meeting in the boardroom – they're trying to trace the smell - There's leaking in the washroom - there's a sneak in personnel - Somewhere in the corridors someone was heard to sneeze - Goodness me could this be industrial disease?"
Well said, Knopfler.

I'd love to say that the managers who made the wrong decisions in this particular passenger stranding will learn their lesson. Yeah. Right. That's if someone caught up to them on the golf course to tell them about the public outcry.

If you too want to help get this fixed for good, a Passengers Bill of Rights would be a great way to start. Both Flyersrights.com and strandedpassengers.blogspot.com are splendid resources to jump on this bandwagon.

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