What do you want, a hero cookie?

The pax on US Airways Flight 1549 are being upgraded to preferred status for a year, in addition to getting $5,000 for lost luggage and full reimbursement of their airfare.  Wonderful PR, and a smart move.  But not enough for some passengers, according to the WSJ and New York Post:

Some who were on the plane – brought down by a flock of geese after takeoff from La Guardia Airport on Jan. 15 – said the temporary tease of first-class perks is for the birds.

“I think if you survive a plane crash, being upgraded permanently is a good gesture too,” said Fred Berretta, 41, of Charlotte, NC, where the Airbus A320 was headed.

Manhattanite Tess Sosa, who escaped the sinking plane with her husband and two small children, thought the airline was too focused on self-congratulations – and “they want to exonerate themselves as much as they can.”

“They are happy they had such amazing results, and they applaud themselves, and then give us a small token?” she said. “That’s how I take it.”

…At La Guardia yesterday, other US Airways travelers were shocked by the airline’s lowballing.

“You’re going to crash me into the water, and you’re going to tell me all I get is an upgrade?” asked Antonio Sales, 20, who was traveling with the University of South Carolina’s track team. “That’s more of an ‘OK, you’re not dead, I’ll give you something to hold on to.’ It’s not enough at all.”

Teammate Gabrielle Glenn, 20, was more blunt: “That’s it. They should sue.”

— Ana Maria Alaya.  “Survivors Gilt: Give us more, US Aiways passengers demand“, New York Post, February 3rd, 2009.

This is what happens when you raise a few generations of kids with enormous self-esteem and absolutely no sense of responsibility.  Or perspective.

In order for the airline to owe anybody anything, they would have to be at fault.

In order for them to be at fault, they would have to have been negligent in their duty of care to the passengers.

Geese getting sucked into an engine nacelle is not negligence.  It is an accepted risk.  Your acceptance of that risk is spelled out in the terms of your ticket, if you read the fine print carefully.

There are something like 10,000 bird strikes in the US alone every year; 4,000 and change reported by the Air Force, and the remainder reported by civil aviators.

Airports and aircraft manufacturers alike do what they can to make the airport grounds less attractive, and the aircraft better at withstanding impacts.  Nonetheless, hitting a 4-pound body at 250kts or greater will do some damage to the aircraft.  Hitting a heavier bird, or multiple birds, will do a lot more damage.

Aircraft-mounted TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) has a very limited ability to identify birds.  TCAS is mainly geared toward detecting larger, faster-moving targets, like other aircraft.  Hitting another plane can often be fatal, as you might guess.

Additionally, wild birds are horrible pilots.  They routinely fly without clearance, without Mode C transponders, and without keeping an ear tuned to the local ATC or CTAF frequency.  They change course and altitude without advisories to neighbouring traffic, and they have runway incursions every other day.

If you really want to make a difference in bird strike hazards, fund the hell out of the ABL program.  There is no bird strike hazard that an appropriate number of laser-armed 747s cannot handle.  Given the number of geese, gulls, and hell, squirrels and raccoons in this city, I’d say Toronto alone needs a fleet of about fifteen.  Being able to handle ICBMs as well is just icing on the cake.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.