Grab Bag: Trivia and Complaints

By | August 2, 2007

Here’s a collection of interesting articles we’ve been sitting on for a while and haven’t yet written about.

  • PCWorld, in a series of articles, asks about what should a passenger do if a passenger next to you if watching pornography on his laptop? Or passengers not watching movies with headphones? (Credit to the Consumerist for referring us to this). An unruly passenger may cause the diversion of a plane…but conduct is not grounds for any action…and with flights full…it is harder to request being reseated.
  • A Passenger has won damages from Spirit for a canceled flight. The airline was ordered to pay $1350.75 after it canceled Jane Waun’s flight and never rebooked them. Waun sued Spirit Airlines in the small claims court in East Lansing, Mich., as a last resort this spring after failing to get her money directly. She won her case last Monday mainly because Spirit never showed up for the original hearing and didn’t have a good excuse. The judgment reimburses her hotel and meal costs, a lost night at her destination and the four tickets she had to purchase on a different airline. Waun was traveling out of Detroit, and Spirit canceled her flight to Ft. Myers. They had taken a bus from East Lansing and had no car. Counter agents wouldn’t rebook passengers and the call center was not answering. Finally, she got through, and Spirit agreed they’d never rebooked her agreed to credit her the lost portion, but not incurred expenses. Spirit has contracted with a Florida(where it is now headquartered) company to help staff their call center…to do this, they will close their last Michigan call center, laying off 131 people.
  • Airtran had to notify twenty passengers who sat near a teenager diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. The teenager, who was in critical condition, fell seriously ill on a flight from Orlando to Atlanta and then on to Wichita. An ambulance met the second plane and the girl was taken to the hospital. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis are stiff neck, high fever, headaches, and vomiting. It kills about 10% of those infected and is transferred by direct close contact with discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person. The planes have been thoroughly cleaned and return to service.
  • Writer Peter David and his wife had a rather unfortunate incident at a TSA checkpoint, flying from Long Island Macarthur Airport to Florida. Apparently, the name Kathleen David is on a No-Fly List, and was advised that she now has to check in an hour earlier at the airport to present extra identification to prove she isn’t the other Kathleen David. The incident only goes to show that the No Fly List is still a problem for many innocent Americans.
  • Qantas unveiled the interior of its Airbus 380 order. It will be configured with 450 seats…14 in First, 72 in Business, 32 in Premium Economy, and 332 in economy. Every part of the cabin and every seat, even economy, will be state of the art, including the in-flight entertainment system. Some of the elements designed for the A380s will be part of a remodel of the airline’s 747-400 fleet. For details of the features, click here.
  • American Airlines is facing fines of up to $231,000 for unsafe work conditions at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Conditions include fall hazard, electrical and fire hazards, hygiene issues, blocked exits and storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders.
  • American also limits customer complaints to a web-based form limiting submissions to 1,500 words, each submission is given a tracking number. They have no phone number for customer relations. The form is notorious for spitting out useless form letters. You can still try emailing or executive customer service, which the Consumerist was nice enough to track down(see link).
  • Just to prove that it might not work, take another Consumerist letter…a passenger missed a flight because they did not hear a gate change announcement and American charged them $450 to travel the next day. On the way back, on an 11 hour flight the economy section was without video, music, or reading lights…and then the flight arrived too late, missing their domestic connection…and were placed on standby with no guarantee of a seat at any point…even better, they lost her luggage. And customer service insulted her less than perfect English. Air travel is hard…airlines shouldn’t be making it any harder with poor customer service.
  • The TSA is looking for someone to make a video game to help train its employees. The TSA hopes that the game, which would help new screeners identify knives and guns going through the airport X-ray, would not only speed up training, but also make it fun. According to a TSA work statement, “By design, this game will be extremely enjoyable and guarantee that players produce the correct and useful output.”