Monday, January 28, 2008

Airline Uniform Hats for Women: New Exhibition at SFO

Pan Am Stewardess Hat - 1970If you have an upcoming layover at San Francisco -- or a long sit at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) between flights -- you might want to pass the time by visiting the airport's new exhibition of airline uniform hats for women.

A press release issued by SFO describes the exhibition this way:

The approximately thirty-five uniform caps included in the exhibition illustrate the cap’s role as a practical accessory and an extension of an airline’s company image. Caps on display range from haute couture-inspired looks from the 1940s, and modern designs from the 1960s to retro-influenced styles from the 1980s and 1990s. Among the designers represented in the exhibition are Adolfo, Howard Greer, Oleg Cassini, Stan Herman, Eric Javits, Raymond Loewy, Jean Louis, Hanae Mori, Mary McFadden, and Frank Olive.
The exhibit, which is free of charge and open 24 hours a day, is located landside (pre-security) on the Departures/Ticketing Level of Terminal 1 at SFO. The collection will be on display through April 1, 2008.

Here's a link to a page with images and descriptions of several of the hats from the display.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Northwest Flight Attendants' Merger Concerns

AFA-CWA logoAmid media reports that Northwest Airlines is in merger talks with Delta Airlines, Northwest's flight attendants have publicized a list of conditions they say must be met in order for them to approve and support the merger of Northwest with another carrier.

In a press release issued earlier this week, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Northwest's flight attendants, notes that "a merger agreement that addresses the needs of front line employees will help to ensure a quality product and service that meets the needs of our customers." The union has set forth eight conditions that they wish to have included in any merger agreement:

  • Job protections for Northwest flight attendants.
  • Seniority integration of the two flight attendant groups should be given the full protection of the AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws and the law, as applicable.
  • Allegheny- Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions that cover displaced workers and other matters not directly related to seniority.
  • Stock, or other equity in the merged company no less favorable than that granted to any other employee group, including management.
  • A labor agreement that provides substantial improvements in compensation and work rules to the current flight attendant agreement.
  • A route structure that has a sufficient network and market strength to allow for growth and profitability.
  • Inclusion in discussions on the effects of a proposed merger prior to the finalization of any transaction.
  • Maintaining a strong hub presence in the Twin Cities and continue to plan for future growth, securing our position as one of the largest employers in Minnesota.
The union also cautions that for a merger to be accepted, it must include "transparent and open communications" between the airline's management and its employees on the status of merger developments, and discussions regarding the issues of concern to employees.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

United flight attendants injured by turbulence

A number of people were reported to have been injured early on the morning of Monday, January 21, 2008 when a United Airlines flight encountered turbulence. United Flight UA 1028, a B-757 aircraft, was at FL370 en route from Los Angeles to Chicago when the incident occurred, according to a preliminary incident report posted this morning on the FAA website. The aircraft diverted to Denver, where it landed safely at around 03:00 AM local time.

The FAA report states that three flight attendants sustained "minor" injuries. There was no damage to the aircraft, which later resumed its flight to Chicago without further incident.

In contrast to the information posted by the FAA, several news media stories about the incident reported that up to 10 people had been injured. The flight was said to have had 180 passengers and seven crew members on board.

UPDATE January 24, 2008: Here's a link to a first person account of this incident by a passenger who was on board UA FLight 1028 that night, from the Denver Post.

Friday, January 18, 2008

BA cabin crew praised for post-crash evacuation

Crew of British Airways Flight 38The cabin crew of the British Airways B-777 that crash landed at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) on January 17 are being praised for their quick action and professionalism in initiating and carrying out the evacuation of the aircraft.

Pictured at right are the senior crew members from BA Flight 38. From left to right, senior First Officer John Coward, who was the pilot flying at the time of the incident; Captain Peter Burkill, pilot in command; and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer, the senior cabin crew member on the flight.

The photo was taken at a press conference, during which Capt. Burkill said:

"I want to pay tribute to the cabin crew and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer who carried out the evacuation of the passengers with speed, efficiency and care, some incurring minor injuries in the process.

It was typical of Sharon's selflessness that she took time to check that we on the flight deck were all right before going down the chute herself."
The cabin crew were praised as well by British Airways CEO Willie Walsh. A number of passengers who had been on board BA Flight 38 also commented publicly that the cabin crew had remained calm and had quickly evacuated all the passengers in an orderly fashion.

The incident that resulted in the crash landing occurred very late in the flight, while the aircraft was on short finals. The flight deck crew had not been able to warn the cabin crew before the aircraft hit the ground. The cabin crew reportedly initiated the unplanned evacuation as soon as the aircraft came to a rest.

The United Kingdom's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a preliminary report on the accident, excerpts of which have been posted on the Professional Pilot News blog. The report noted "minor" injuries to four of the crew. The report also notes that nine passengers also sustained injuries: eight classified as "minor" and one "serious." This is in contrast to press reports that had said there were no serious injuries.

The AAIB investigation is continuing.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

British Airways crash landing and evacuation at Heathrow

A British Airways flight arriving at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) from Beijing crash landed at LHR early this afternoon, local time. There were 136 passengers and 16 crew on board the B777-236ER, operating as BA Flight 38. No one was seriously injured, but the aircraft was severely damaged. There was no fire.

Early reports suggest that the aircraft lost power on final approach. The aircraft landed hard on the grass inside the airport's perimeter fence, and skidded several hundred meters before coming to a stop near the threshold of runway 27L. All passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using emergency slides. There were reports of minor injuries to several people.

Several news media outlets interviewed passengers who were on the flight. They said there was no warning from the crew, and that most people did not realize that the plane had landed short of the runway until it had come to a stop. The cabin crew carried out the unplanned evacuation immediately, and without further incident.

Click here to view a video of a BBC News interview with some passengers from BA Flight 38.

Mr. Willie Walsh, the CEO of British Airways, praised the crew's actions in a statement to the press. Part of his statement is included in this video posted on YouTube by the Associated Press.



(If the video does not play or display properly, click here to view it on YouTube.)

Congratulations to the crew of BA Flight 38 for a job well done.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Air Canada turbulence incident injures 10

Early this morning, and Air Canada Flight AC190 with 83 passengers and five crew on board experienced a serious turbulence incident during a scheduled domestic flight between Victoria, BC and Toronto. The A319 aircraft diverted to Calgary for an emergency landing shortly after the incident. Ten people, including two crew members, were hospitalized in Calgary with what have been described as "non-life-threatening" injuries. My understanding is that both crew members who were injured were flight attendants, although this has not been officially confirmed at this time.

Various news reports about the incident, quoting passengers who were on board the flight, indicated that the incident occurred without warning and was particularly violent. Reuters reports:

Those hurt in what was described as sharp drops in altitude and violent rocking were rushed to Calgary hospitals, where their injuries were deemed to be non-life-threatening. Others were treated and released.

"It happened very fast," a female passenger in the plane's front cabin told CBC Television.

"One side of the plane just went up a little bit sideways and then it just sort of went back down. And our friend was really hurt ... she flew up and hit the ceiling and (came) right back down."
An article about the incident in the Toronto Star quoted a passenger who praised the cabin crew, saying, "The flight attendants were amazing, because a lot of them were injured themselves so they had cuts and were trying to dab blood out of their eyes."

A statement about the incident on Flight AC190 on the Air Canada website this afternoon said, "... Of the ten individuals transferred to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, at this time seven have now been released. The remaining two passengers and one flight attendant in hospital are in stable condition. Other passengers are continuing their onward travel."

Best wishes for a speedy to all those who were injured.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew plan to strike

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew plan two 48-hour strikes this month in a dispute over pay. The flight attendants, represented by the union called Unite, plan to carry out a work stoppage from 06:00AM January 9 through 06:00AM January 11, and again from 06:00AM on January 16 through 06:00AM January 18.

According to a statement issued last month by Unite's press office:

Unite members are calling for a long term solution which addresses the pay differentials between Virgin cabin crew and the crews of its competitors. The staff believe that they have been undervalued for too long and Virgin are failing to recognise their professionalism and loyalty. Their pay lags behind many other airlines who fly the same business and holiday routes. Cabin crew staff working for British Airways can earn up to £10K more than Virgin cabin crew flying the same business routes. On holiday routes Virgin cabin crew can also earn considerably less than many of their competitors.
Virgin Atlantic's Chairman, Richard Branson, told cabin crew in a widely publicized letter, "For some of you more pay than Virgin Atlantic can afford may be critical to your lifestyle, and if that is the case you should consider working elsewhere."

UPDATE January 8, 2008: News media are reporting today that the strike has been called off.