United couldn’t have been more understanding and helpful after reader Chris’ wife had a seizure as they flew from Sullivan’s Island, SC to Winnipeg. The flight attendants onboard offered to divert the flight to Chicago, but the couple decided instead to power through. United’s staff met them at the gate along with paramedics, and offered to rebook them on the flight of their choice. If they wanted to stay the night, United said they’d be happy to pay for a hotel room. Chris’ takeaway perfectly captures the spirit behind our Above and Beyond posts: “Even if United is a horrible company,” he writes, “there are still nice people there, and sometimes even big companies surprise you.” Chris writes:
Natalie is pretty angry. Lately whenever her mother, who is blind, has to travel, she seems to run into trouble. As Natalie puts it, as far as airline regulations go a guide dog is equivalent to a wheelchair, and the appropriate accommodations should be made without hassle. It’s too bad on her last flight, Natalie’s mother had to sit in the bulkhead next to a Delta employee with a fear of dogs.
Here’s a bittersweet elegy on airline travel. [New York Times]
The first thing we thought when we read this article was, at least something is still free on an airplane! Unfortunately, in this case the passenger claims it was unrequested and wouldn’t stop, and the flight attendant, who no longer works for JetBlue, has been arrested “on charges of ‘obscene and indecent exposure’ and ‘for making sexual advances.'” He has yet to enter a plea.
“Who would have thought, after 30 years, that we’d be a flying 7-Eleven,” Becky Gilbert, a three-decade veteran of the industry told me during a break in our training session in Fort Worth.
In our post earlier today about the 65-year-old doctor who tried to use the bathroom on a recent Southwest flight and was subsequently arrested, we noted that the airline sent him an apology letter and a $100 voucher. That seemed kind of inappropriate for the situation, right? It turns out the letter was never meant for Dr. Madduri and was sent to him by mistake. According to our reader RedwoodFlyer (Sockatume also picked up on it), the letter was actually about him and was sent to all the other passengers on the flight; he was never meant to see it.
A 65-year-old urologist, born in India but living in the United States for 38 years now, was flying from his home in Missouri to a medical convention in Las Vegas on June 26th, 2008. Did you notice that “born in India” detail? Apparently his attempts to go to the bathroom angered and frightened a flight attendant, who wouldn’t tell Dr. Sivaprasad Madduri why he couldn’t use the lavatory (the pilot was using it) and who wouldn’t listen to Dr. Madduri’s explanation that he was taking a medicine that acts as a diuretic. When the plane landed he was arrested, spent the night in jail, and was told the next day to plead guilty and pay $2500 if he wanted a quick resolution.
On July 20th, Julianna’s (delayed) Delta flight landed in Atlanta at 7:30pm, with a connecting flight scheduled for 8:05pm. Julianna, who has muscular dystrophy, missed the connecting flight because nobody came with a wheelchair until 8:05—the same time the connecting flight took off. To make matters worse, the plane crew told Julianna she might make the flight anyway if she stopped waiting for help and got off the plane right now, so she crawled down the stairs on her own. When the wheelchair came she was “wheeled into a back room and advised” that her plane had taken off. But that was just the first half of her ordeal, and the next eight hours only got worse.
A 44-year-old Brooklyn woman was returning from vacation in Haiti when she began to have trouble breathing. According to her cousin who was on the flight with her, she was refused help twice by the flight attendant, then she was brought two oxygen tanks with masks—but both were empty. Her cousin requested an emergency landing, but before they could touch down in Miami she was dead, so the plane continued to JFK. The airline isn’t commenting on why the emergency tanks were empty in the first place. “After the flight attendant refused to administer oxygen to Ms. Desir, she became distressed, pleading, ‘Don’t let me die,’ Mr. Oliver recalled.”
Christine learned an interesting bit of in-flight trivia on her recent United flight: those little call buttons are for emergencies only. What’s more, the flight attendants can psychically sense when it’s an emergency and when you’re just foolin’ with them, and they’ll ignore you if they suspect you’re just going to ask for water. And no, needing to take sinus medicine to prevent clusters of needle-explosions going off in your skull during descent is not an emergency, so go back to your seat.
The USA Today tossed three travel experts in a room and asked them to describe their dream airline. An airline that restores the grandeur of flight by focusing on passenger value and convenience. Pay attention airlines, and consider giving us the following:
United Flight Attendants Scoff At Grounded Flier Compensation Plan, Lobby For Passengers Bill of Rights
You know who has to deal with a planeload full of sweaty, angry grounded passengers? Flight attendants. Know who wants a passengers bill of rights? Flight attendants. Specifically, United Airlines flight attendants. They’ve issued a press release through their union criticizing United’s “Flights of Note” compensation plan for grounded fliers.
Every once in a while, there’s a business model that’s so brilliantly evil, you just have to respect it, even while you bemoan its lack of ethics and its blatant disregard for the human spirit.