Friday, May 25, 2007

Swedish cabin crew strike at SAS

Just a month ago, cabin crew working for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in Denmark walked out in "wildcat strike," causing a disruption in flight service. Today it is the Swedish cabin crew who are striking after talks between their union and SAS management broke down.

An Associated Press article about the strike, published in the Houston Chronicle and elsewhere, says:

Last week, the Swedish Salaried Employees' Union threatened to call the strike by 800 of its members unless agreement was reached in negotiations on achieving better working conditions. SAS, in turn, had warned it would impose a lockout if cabin staff went on strike.

Negotiations between the 160,000-member union and employers broke down during the night, and no new talks were planned. "The negotiations are stuck," the airline said in statement.

SAS Sweden said the strike would cost some $3 million a day in lost ticket sales. The Swedish unit has 2,500 staff and flies 6 million passengers a year to more than 50 domestic and international destinations.
The airline has canceled 300 flights today, affecting 20,000 passengers, and said it would cancel up to 150 on Saturday, according to news reports.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Northwest DC-9 cabin decompression incident

Several days ago, a Northwest Airlines DC-9 experienced a cabin decompression while en route from Syracuse to Detroit. The flight diverted to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where it made a safe emergency landing. There were four crew and 95 passengers on board. No one was injured.

Northwest Flight 1411 departed from Syracuse Hancock Airport just after noon on Friday, May 18, 2007. It landed at Buffalo at shortly before 1:30 PM. News reports about the incident say that smoke filled the cockpit, the cabin depressurized, and the cabin oxygen masks deployed. After the aircraft landed at Buffalo, damage described as a 12-inch hole in the fuselage was discovered. No further details were reported.

Later in the day, passengers continued on their journey aboard another aircraft that had been ferried to Buffalo from Detroit.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

AFA co-sponsors transportation workers' rally in DC

A huge event, known as the 2007 Transportation Day of Action, will take place in Washington, DC tomorrow. The rally was organized by the IAM "to say 'Enough is Enough' to the federal government's all-talk, no-action policies that place profits ahead of safety and security, and corporate needs ahead of workers." The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents over 55,000 flight attendants, is a co-sponsor of the event. The main rally will begin at noon on the National Mall.

AFA's pre-rally event will begin at 10 AM. The union advises members who attend to wear their regulation uniform with AFA pin displayed prominently, and to look for the AFA tent on the Mall.

AFA says: Help change the course of government from protecting corporate interests to defending the rights of working people!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lufthansa cabin crew to get pay increase

Bloomberg News is reporting that Lufthansa has agreed to include 15,000 flight attendants in a pay raise package. The announcement comes from Lufthansa employee union Ver.di:

The flight attendants will receive a 3.4 percent increase, which the airline had already agreed to apply to ground personnel, from July 1, Ver.di said in a faxed statement. Lufthansa spokeswoman Stefanie Stotz said negotiations are ongoing and declined to comment further when contacted by Bloomberg News.

Ver.di said Feb. 17 the 3.4 percent pay-raise agreement it negotiated for 27,000 ground-crew workers also applied to 15,000 flight attendants it represents. Lufthansa argued that cabin crews are already covered by a May 2005 contract with the UFO flight attendants' union providing raises of at least 2.5 percent as of January 2007 and lasting through December 2008.
Recent disagreements between Lufthansa and its cabin crew have been contentious, recently causing several disruptions in flight service as cabin crews in Berlin stopped work to demand higher wages.

[Photo Source]

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mom and daughter become Alaska Airlines F/As

Two of the women who will graduate this week from Alaska Airlines flight attendant training are a mother and daughter. Summer Braaten and her mother Beth both will receive their wings tomorrow.

According to a story in the Seattle Times, this is the first time Alaska Airlines has trained a mother-daughter team together. Matthew Coder, manager of Inflight Services Training for Alaska Airlines said, "We've had sisters together, and husbands and wives, but not a mother-daughter. What usually happens is the daughter goes through the training first and they like their jobs so much, we get the mother later."

But not this time. Here's how the story is being told:

Encouraged by a supportive spouse and friends who are flight attendants, Beth Braaten applied first.

"I wanted to be a flight attendant since I was a little girl. It never went away," said the 46-year-old interior designer. "A year ago I decided to pursue the dream."

About the same time, Summer Braaten, who graduated from Central Washington University in 2006 with a degree in tourism and hotel management, was working in catering. On a job, she met an Alaska Airlines recruiter.

"It was mom's dream, but it sounded like fun," said Summer, 23.

She applied in March, two weeks after Beth. Both were accepted and scheduled for the same training class.
Following graduation, both women will be based in Anchorage.
"I never imagined when I held Summer in my arms my first Mother's Day [in 1984] that we'd ever be doing something like this together." Beth said. "Our graduation is a perfect Mother's Day gift."
Happy Mother's Day, Beth. And good luck and happy landings to the new flight attendants.

To read the entire Seattle Times story about Beth and Summer Braaten, with more photos, click here.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Turbulence injures two American Eagle F/As, one pax

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a report on an incident in which two flight attendants and one passenger were injured during turbulence. The incident happened on the morning of April 28, 2007 aboard an Executive Airlines ATR 72-212, operating as American Eagle Flight 5089 from Nevis Island to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Quoting from the NTSB report:

The Director of Flight Safety for Executive Airlines said that a few minutes after the Captain made the announcement to prepare for the approach to land at San Juan, Puerto Rico, he alerted the flight attendants of the possibility of encountering turbulence, and asked that everyone remain seated.

According to the Director of Safety, the captain then initiated the descent, and the airplane entered a broken layer of clouds, encountering light turbulence, followed by a momentary "jolt" of turbulence. As the airplane encountered the momentary "jolt", both flight attendants who were walking to their seats, and one passenger, who had been in the lavatory, were thrown and received injuries.
The report says that the passenger was injured seriously. The flight attendants' injuries were described as "minor."

Neither the pilots nor any of the other passengers were injured, and the aircraft did not sustain any damage.

Monday, May 7, 2007

AA recalling 200 flight attendants

American Airlines announced today that it is sending recall notices to 200 furloughed flight attendants. A news release issued by the airline says that "AA flight attendants, including former TWA flight attendants will be included in this recall."

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union representing American Airlines cabin crew, confirms that the recall notices are going to the 200 most senior furloughees.

An article about the recall in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says:

American still has about 2,100 attendants on furlough, many of them former TWA employees. Under their current contract with American, furloughed attendants lose their right to be recalled after five years. That's led many TWA attendants who were laid off in 2001 and subsequent years to attempt to change the rule so they can eventually return to work.

Last year, TWA attendants protested at the headquarters of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, claiming that the union wasn't representing their interests. But some have also supported the union in its recent marches and rallies against executive pay at the airline.
Recalled flight attendants can choose to work at American's crew bases in Boston, New York or Washington, D.C

Friday, May 4, 2007

Jury convicts man who threatened F/A in flight

Southwest Airlines logoAnother day, another court ruling in the case of an unruly passenger. And another day of news media making light of the situation...

Carl William Persing, 41, was convicted by a jury of interfering with flight attendants and crew members. The felony conviction came after a three-day trial in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, NC.

Persing's trouble began on a Southwest Airlines flight this past September. According to a criminal complaint signed by an FBI agent, Persing and his girlfriend were "embracing, kissing and acting in a manner that made other passengers uncomfortable." A flight attendant asked them to stop. In response to that request, Persing threatened the flight attendant.

The flight attendant reported the threats made against him to the captain, and the couple were arrested when the aircraft landed at its destination, Raleigh-Durham. The judge later dismissed the charge against Persing's girlfriend.

WWAY TV3 reported that Persing was offered a plea deal before the trial started. He could have plead to a misdemeanor simple assault, but turned it down. A trial ensued and the jury found him guilty.

Persing will be sentenced on August 6. Assistant US Attorney John Bowler said that Persing will likely serve jail time for the federal felony conviction. After the verdict was handed down, the judge told Persing that he could fly on commercial and private aircraft only if traveling to and from court appearances.

That's the gist of the story. The man had his day in court, and after hearing the facts of the case the jury saw fit to convict him. What bothers me is that some of the news media are reporting on this case in a way that trivializes this kind of offense.

Many reports -- and especially the headlines -- focused on the couple's inappropriate behavior that prompted the flight attendant to intervene in the first place, not on the subsequent threats to the flight attendant. Moreover, this was done in a snickering 'nudge, nudge, wink, wink' kind of way.

Here are just a few examples of what I'm referring to:

Headline, from WECT in Wilmington: Mid-Air Make Out Lands Couple in Court

Headline from the Wilmington Star: Man in airline love case guilty of interfering with flight crew

Headline from the News & Observer: Frisky flier is guilty of bullying -- And the story begins with the sentence, "A California man is now a convicted felon for threatening a flight attendant who asked him and his girlfriend to stop their lusty cuddling on a Raleigh-bound flight."

The headline of an Associated Press story published on MSNBC: Man convicted for mile-high makeout - and the sub-heading reads, "Jury punishes affectionate passenger for interfering with flight"
There are more, but you get the idea. Headlines like these make it sound as though this guy was raked over the coals for being 'frisky' and 'amorous.' Persing was not tried and convicted for making out with his girlfriend on that flight. He was convicted -- by a jury -- of intimidating a flight attendant, making it difficult for him to do his job. That's not cute or funny, as Persing now knows.

Okay, rant mode off. For now.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pax pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault charge

United Airlines logoLast January I wrote about a passenger who caused quite a disruption on a United Airlines flight en route to San Francisco from Boston. The unruly woman tried to open a cabin door, talked about hijacking, and became combative. She cursed and spit at flight attendants and other passengers and had to be restrained. She was arrested on arrival at SFO, where she refused to be interviewed by the FBI. She was charged with assaulting a flight attendant and interfering with the performance of duties of flight crew members.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, federal prosecutors amended her case in February, filing a misdemeanor charge of assault while aboard an aircraft. A few days ago the woman entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge.

Here is more of what the San Francisco Chronicle said:

Erin Callahan Lambert, 28, who lives in the Bay Area, could have her conviction dismissed if she stays out of trouble for the next year, according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. At a hearing today in San Francisco, U.S. Magistrate Edward Chen placed Lambert on pretrial diversion for a year and ordered her to return to court on April 30, 2008.

Lambert's attorney, Kate Dyer, did not return a call for comment today.

Lambert was originally charged in January with interference with flight crew members, a felony that could have sent her to prison for a maximum of 20 years.
Sounds like Ms. Lambert's attorney cut a good deal for her, doesn't it?

For the record, the flight on which the incident occurred was United Flight 179 on January 21, 2007.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Alitalia cabin crew strike grounds hundreds of flights

Alitalia crew membersItaly's national flag carrier Alitalia has cancelled hundreds of flights for May 3 and May 4 in anticipation of a cabin crew strike. Alitalia cabin crew have called a 24 hour work stoppage over a contract dispute. Contract renewal negotiations between the airline and the cabin crew have been underway for some time.

The airline said that the cancellations would involve 154 international flights and 202 domestic flights and would affect an estimated 30,000 passengers.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Goodbye Gulf Air - Hello Etihad?

The bad news: A number of Gulf Air cabin crew may soon lose their jobs as a result of the airline's downsizing. The good news: Many of those who are let go from Gulf Air may end up being hired by Etihad Airways.

An article in the Gulf Daily News about this development quotes a source at Etihad who said that airline's management "had given the green light for the recruitment of all crew deemed surplus to Gulf Air requirements."

"Management have said: 'Just take them'," said the source.

"They are qualified, they are good and we do not have to spend money training them."

They added that qualified staff were at a premium in the aviation industry, with many airlines forced to scour increasingly remote parts of the globe for cabin crew.

The sudden availability of staff familiar with the region and capable of doing the job was described as a rare and welcome opportunity for competing firms.

However, the source revealed Etihad would not take any more than those axed by their competitor in a bid to keep relations between the two firms cordial.

"The instructions are not to take more than Gulf Air gets rid of - they do not want to hurt Gulf Air," they said.
News reports say that Gulf Air plans to cut its 6,000 workforce by about 25%.

A quick check of the Current Vacancies page on the Etihad Airways website suggests that the airline, which is based in Abu Dhabi, is in need of cabin staff. Vacancies are listed for 1,200 cabin crew and 70 cabin manager/purser positions.

James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad Airways, knows something about how a transition from Gulf Air to Etihad works. He moved to his present position late last year. Prior to that time, Mr. Hogan was the Gulf Air chief executive.

[Photo Source]