Monday, January 21, 2008

Coming Up: Annus Horribilis

Annus Horribilis is what the Queen of England, in a speech, called 1992 -- a year in which several of her goofy children got divorced, her favorite castle caught fire and her wack-job ex-daughter-in-law, the Princess of Pluto or whatever the poor girl regarded herself as, really began wigging out on hysterics and high colonics.

But at least the Queen had good air transportation, not to mention plenty of spare castles, a hat full of diamonds, and some very excellent horses. (Which she, unlike Pony Boy Sarkozy of France, can actually ride with skill). And by the way, am I the only one who thinks Pony Boy Sarkozy's new main squeeze looks a little like Michael Jackson in some photos? (Above)

But I digress. Forget the Queen of England.

Because if you hated 2007 in air travel, you are really going to hate 2008.

I've been at the news game since Christ was a corporal, and I have never heard so much dark muttering about air travel.

First and foremost, there are these imminent airline mergers. Last week, the Wall Street Journal (Incidentally, I worked there when their slogan was "The Daily Diary of the American Dream," and you weren't supposed to giggle at it) stuck this front-page blurb headline on a story about imminent mergers of airlines: "Friendlier Skies."

Friendlier? For who? Not for you and me, they won't be. Mergers will mean: Fewer available seats. Lousier service. A collapse of frequent-flier programs, which already have one foot in the grave. Less service to and from mid-size and smaller cities.

Oh, and more money for airline executives and those who might happen to own airline stocks.

Meanwhile, they're still stranding passengers on tarmacs. I've had e-mails from people stuck on planes in Atlanta that day and night for over 10 hours.

This situation just gets worse in 2008, and airlines have done virtually nothing to remedy it.

Take the Queen's lead. Get a horse.

Meanwhile, I'm going to be more closely following in months to come the actions of airports, which understand customer-service better, and whose executives are trying to get ahead of the problem, though they have tread very lightly around the airlines.

With the new capabilities on Randy Petersen's, I will instruct myself on how to upload various texts to make things more reader-friendly. For now please excuse my cutting and pasting the following news from airports:

Airports Outline Care for Stranded Passengers

ACI-NA Workshop Results to be Presented to DOT Task Force

Washington, D.C. (January 18, 2008) - Airports Council
International-North America's (ACI-NA) airport members and other
aviation industry stakeholders today developed operational
recommendations to care for passengers who are stranded on airplanes or
at airports because of weather-related incidents, security, air space
congestion or flight delays due to maintenance problems or other issues.

At ACI-NA's Workshop on Passenger Care During Irregular Operations, held
Jan. 17-18 in Arlington, Virginia, discussions focused on planning and
coordination among airports, airlines, concessionaires, local emergency
services, hotels, federal government officials from the Department of
Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border
Protection (CBP).

"A high level of communications, collaboration and coordination are the
foundation of airport plans for irregular operations," said James
Crites, Executive Vice President of Operations, Dallas/Fort Worth
International Airport, who organized the workshop with ACI-NA's Senior
Advisor for Policy, Dick Marchi.

"Respect and great care for our customers is our top priority when
passengers can't get home," Crites said. "Some of the terrific thinking
by the group included detailed planning to care for unaccompanied
minors, families with children, passengers with disabilities or special
needs, pets, and others. Participants stressed the need for
communication at all levels, using technology more effectively, and
developing solid partnerships with all stakeholders so that everyone
knows what their role is in helping passengers."

Workshop participants committed to ensuring that passengers stranded on
airlines or at airports are supplied with information and amenities that
will help address their unique needs and make their waiting period more

More than 100 participants from airports in the U.S., Canada and the
bahamas outlined a passenger care checklist that will be made available
to the soon-to-be-formed Department of Transportation (DOT) Contingency
Plan Task Force. The goal of the Task Force is to create model plans to
assist airports and airlines coordinate more effectively during
irregular operations.

"Through their participation in this workshop, airports, airlines and
others demonstrated their commitment to superior customer service and
meeting passenger needs," ACI-NA President Greg Principato commented.
"The results of these discussions will go a long way in assisting DOT's
Task Force with their contingency plans."

Kate Hanni, Executive Director, Coalition for Airline Passengers Bill of
Rights, kicked off the conference with an overview of the goals of the
22,000-member coalition. During the workshop several airports presented
their contingency plans that address vital passenger needs during
irregular operations. Following those presentations, workshop attendees
brainstormed ways they could provide even better service to stranded

This workshop followed a successful meeting led by Dallas Fort-Worth
International Airport last September addressing the same issues, where
industry experts identified the need for formalized planning between
airports, airlines and other stakeholders who prepare for these

Contingency plans include components such as assuring adequate staffing
in shops and restaurants after hours, providing passenger assistance to
locate hotel rooms, providing free wi-fi in the terminal, providing
cots, mats, blankets and personal hygiene products, assisting with
chaperones for unaccompanied minors and providing pet relief areas.

# # #



Subject: Airports Outline Care for Stranded Passengers
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 20:30:38 +0000

1 comment:

Kaleberg said...

Basically, they've given up. Airplanes are now officially disaster areas. Maybe they can get some FEMA trailers on the tarmac and a field hospital for the wounded.