Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Friday, May 15, 2015

Shorter SWA: "Sorry Our FA Stopped You From Alerting the Cops About Your Husband's Suicide Note by Text. Here's Your Refund."

One of the worst things about life post-9/11 is how a bunch of pissant flying waiters and waitresses now feel that they are imbued with a quasi-police power.
A Wisconsin woman was on a Southwest Airlines flight about to take off from New Orleans on April 3 when she received a chilling text message from her husband back home.... even after showing the airline employee her husband's desperate text, the flight attendant "slapped the phone down and said you need to go into airplane mode now."
Nice going, SWA. "Luv Airlnes" my ass.


Sevesteen said...

There is almost certainly more here than meets the eye. The flight attendant probably gets "But my call is an EEMEEEERGEEENCY!, my wife can't find her keys" crap daily.

The other thing is that I wouldn't meekly put my phone away--The call would get made one way or another unless I was physically restrained--and then I would be yelling for other passengers to make the call for me.

Anonymous said...

And SWA is really one of the best airlines these days. The name of the game is ineluctably (Extra Scrabble points for using that word) flying cattle cars with wings, but their formula is the least intolerable.
The FA fucked up. And this *could* have been a major positive 6 o'clock news glory story. But they would have had to stop the plane and do back to the terminal. It would have been a Major Big Deal, costing SWA a boatload (missed connections, aircraft shuffling). I wonder if the SWA boardroom is discussing Another Way To Deal With This.
"OK, M'am, we can interrupt the flight rollout to takeoff, but we will have to charge you $20,000 if we do so and announce over the plane PA that we are doing so for your family emergency. Your choice. What's your call? You must sign this contract, sorry." And that 20K might be a tenth of what it would cost SWA...but stiff enough that people would think hard.
A tragedy, for sure.

CenterPuke88 said...

Key element here is if the FA declined to inform the pilot. This kinda situation IS what the pilot is paid to make decisions on. A prompt request to hold on a taxiway clear of other traffic, and a phone call to police in Milwaukee (or whatever town nearby) made by SWA dispatch or operations with the necessary information, might have made a nice 6 o'clock news story and saved a life. The flight delay would have been less than 10 minutes, and the black eye SWA got would have been avoided.

Since I'm sure FA's get versions of this kinda crap all the time, it's not the easiest call, but with an explicit text on a phone in no obvious advantage for the complaining party, I think the response by the FA was clearly wrong. As for penalties and rules, a well trained flight crew always trumps paper. SWA used to be so much better, but expansion dilutes the pool of workers.

Even in flight, Air Traffic Control could have been informed and passed on information to either SWA or appropriate authorities for the pilot. The phone in aircraft mode would still display the message, allowing the pilot to look at it and determine if he wanted to make the call. Relaying the passenger name, messenger's name, town involved and such to SWA, dispatch would have been enough to contact State Police in Wisconsin (or whatever state) with the details (filing in address and such from the reservation) needed to have them relay or investigate as necessary. As a suicide threat, police will investigate (they might shot the guy to stop him....but...).