Thursday, April 26, 2007


I dislike it when journalists misuse the term snafu, which comes out of World War II GI jargon --- evidently borrowed from British military jargon -- and means: Situation Normal, All F***** Up."

Not to be a grammar schoolmarm, but snafu is grossly misused in print, like "gold standard" and "beg the question." Typically, you see it used these days to describe what is, in fact, an abnormal situation. But in these cases some terms that came out of the original Iraq war -- "goatf***" and the even more dire "clusterf***"-- would actually be more appropriate. Though the schoolmarms who do oversee usage in print would shriek in horror, and in fact you'll notice I'm using asterisks to mask the obvious words, so who am I to be calling anyone a schoolmarm, especially since this is technically a run-on sentence hanging on a subordinate clause?

Whatever. I now regret to say that "snafu" is rapidly becoming the right word to describe airport and airline overcrowding. This summer may well be the summer in which snafu comes into its own.

It happened again the other day. Weather shut down Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, flights were diverted and planes sat on ramps for unconscionable periods of time. This was a near reply of the Dec. 29 fiasco at DFW, and the Valentine's Day clusterf*** mostly involving JetBlue at Kennedy airport.

[The illustration, above left, is from "Airplane!" (1980), which I regard as the funniest movie ever made about air travel.]

Anyway, get used to the system being tied up in knots. We're always going to have weather; weather is clearly becoming more severe; and our air-traffic system, not just the airlines and airports but the F.A.A. as well, has no slack in it.

Tomorrow, we'll have a look at the FAA's predictions for worsening air-traffic congestion.

Here are two links to the latest mess. This, from KVUE in Austin. And thisone from the folks pushing for the passengers bill of rights.

And I recently read in my favorite newspaper about a new cheap-fare startup airline that's going to ban passengers from carrying on any snacks, so they'll have to buy them on-board. Have a look here.

Who says they can enforce that?


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