Airline Workers Burned.


Burned–not just figuratively: literally.

And while the feeling might be among those not close to the fire, “who cares,” the answer is simple, once you too start feeling the flames. And you will: the way of American business today is to break up the furniture and burn it to heat the house.

Still you might say, “not in my business” to which I’d reply, “maybe not for now.” But you will notice the wildfire consuming the airline business the next time you decide to go somewhere by air. And eventually, if those in big business who control yours decide it’s financially expedient in the short term to cash you out, your very own comfy chair, desk, pension and future will provide the heat to warm the place long after you’re out in the cold.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the combined post-bankruptcy Delta-Northwest combination, over 30,000 airline jobs went up in smoke; the post-bankruptcy Continental-United merger torched an equal number; USAir through bankruptcy burned up another 20,000, and American Airlines just forced into bankruptcy will of necessity claim thousands more faces ghostly to those who don’t  know them, even more ghostly to those who do.

But not you, not now, right? No, now it’s this guy, and whether you know it or not, he is you–not that you’d recognize it or admit it, for now:

He’s the Citizen Kane who has been handling your bags for all of the years you’ve been flying. He’s the muscle behind the launch of your jet to wherever you’re going, then he goes home to a family like yours. He’s been doing this for twenty-some years–but not any more: he’s been cashed out, broken up and thrown on the fire to heat the house. There are hordes waiting to smash your bags for minimum wage–so who needs him?

Airlines have no choice but to invest billions in new aircraft, then try to make ends meet with a cost structure skewed by oil prices, the wild card held hostage by both oil speculators and petroleum producing nations, many of whom despise the American way of life–including the cheap airfares connecting the length and breadth of our far-flung nation, a promise made to you by your congress as if it were a sacred entitlement no matter whose job or pension it costs to deliver the savings to you. Who do you think will pay that price for you?

I know who. She’s the one who would save your butt over her own when the real fires start burning:

Many started with me back in the 80s, flying now to support families and to pay mortgages and to have life on the earth like everyone else. Thousands of those dreams and lives went up in smoke through bankruptcy court to heat the chilling business that hangs and dies on the price of a barrel of oil. And month after month, that fluctuation extinguishes not only the hopes and dreams of folks like her–but also the bottom line of the airline that you love to vilify for charging a fraction of what it costs to buy an NFL or NBA playoff ticket. Getting you there, however, must be bargain basement pricing, right? I mean, it’s your right, right?

And don’t forget this guy; well, then again I guess you’d better:

He’s the knuckle-buster I depend on to tell me the jet’s ready, fixed, 100%. And when he says it, I know it’s true. Because he’s the same mechanic who migrated with me from tough, lean years in the military, or the civilian A&P ranks, who like me has put in the thousands of hours of sweat equity taming these giant beasts of metal and fuel and fire and a thousand high-tech components wiring it into a flyable tonnage the size of a freight train at shotgun speed–with your ass strapped aboard. But, his craft can be duplicated–though his lineage certainly cannot be–somewhere a thousand miles off shore for a third of the price. So he goes up in smoke too.

And finally, come on up to the pointy end.

Who’s going to fly your jet? Me, I’m here for the duration: USAF experience worldwide, 26+ years at my airline, 21+ as captain, but here’s the catch: who in the next generation of pilots who witness my nearly 27 years of pension go up in smoke like a “strike-anywhere” match as it just did is going to dedicate his life to your cheap air travel? Who will spend the $80,000+ on flight ratings, or the years of military indentured servitude to aspire to the dead end, $20,000 a year entry level that the job boils down to, just to linger in slow-death overtime as no one can afford to leave once their pension is erased?

Airline analyst Michael Boyd predicted that if this trend continues, airline pilots of the future will be the five year, “I was a ski bum/bartender in Aspen then got a real job” type turnovers, despite the weather, the terrain, the technology, and the challenges of piloting your airline flight.

Because who else with a lick of sense would perform a life and death drama daily for peanuts and an unsure future, branded by the vision of 100,000 airline pilots before them stripped of a future, cut loose with a retirement reduced to nothing?

I don’t know who, but that’s who’ll fly your jets. And I don’t know who in their right minds would choose the monumental and unrecoverable price tag that fuels the “burn ’em up and keep it cheap” model endorsed by your blind eye congress and ultimately by, well, you.

And that’s what you’ll get. Breaking up the furniture to heat the house, regardless of what’s left, never mind habitability or who would have thought, survivability, down the road?

Meanwhile, no worries for now, bon voyage and just warm yourself at the bonfire . . . for as long as it lasts.

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41 Responses to “Airline Workers Burned.”

  1. Simon Cummings Says:

    Chris, someone once said of economists that they know the cost of everything but the value of nothing. I think this applies to those that have an undue amount of power in our societies (i’m Australian and the AA One World partner, QANTAS is being run into the ground by it’s management.) For mine, i’d rather pay more and have greater safety and certainty than to save a few dollars.

    I wish you all the best during which must be a very difficult and trying time for you and your AA colleagues.

  2. We are having the same problem with that slimy little toad Alan Joyce. He runs QANTAS and believe me when I say safety, comfort and staff welfare all come 2nd to profit. He now wants “cheap asian crew” and to have the jets serviced in ASia. More and more QANTAS servicing is being outsourced to Asia and the incidents have increased dramatically. Several 747’s, and A380 and a couple of A330’s have had serious in-flight accidents and loss of life was only narrowly avoided. Perhaps we should put all the bean counters on a single Asian serviced arcraft and let nature take its own majestic course.

    • It bodes ill for everyone’s future: the profit-takers cash everyone out now, what do we do with an aged, unsupported population in the future?

      • We keep hearing “we can’t compete with the cheap wages from Asia” but if we keep shipping jobs there and cashing out our workers in the west, what work will be left? Moreover the workers left were are asked to do more and more and staff become fewer and fewer. Doesn’t that mean less money in our economy?

  3. Hi Chis: this is a real shame. I do not understand why air travelers expect such cheap tickets. I fly once or twice a month out of a tiny regional. I hear people complain tickets are expensive, and sometimes they are, but mostly they are shockingly cheap. I very much appreciate the many folks who many my travel possible and I think the kvetching comes from infrequent, not frequent, flyers. Thanks, Kathy

    • It really struck me last night as I was flying back from the west coast. I looked to my right at my First Officer who was decidedly disconsolate, facing likely displacement from his home base due to cutbacks and crew base closures mandated by the bankruptcy. He’s already been bumped back to “reserve” pilot status, meaning he has no schedule other than “on call” days, and usually a less than full pay check. Now he’s going to be bumped to another base a thousand miles from home to live with no schedule–just on call–and try to commute home on his days off. This after nearly twenty years with the company, on top of ten years of USAF flying–much of it in combat–getting to the airlines in the first place.

      And he’s not happy missing the Super Bowl, but being on-call he knew he’d be called out to cover the trip. The Super Bowl connection really pissed me off: not me missing the game, because if it’s not the Bears, 49ers or Texas Tech, I don’t really care about football. I had voluntarily picked the trip up for the extra pay because we’re still being paid 1993 pay rates. But what pissed me off is him missing even watching the damn game with his family contrasted with the 70,000 fans that coughed up a thousand or more to sit in the stadium–but who will pitch a wall-eyed fit if their round-trip flight to Indy cost more than $198.

      Even a mediocre game here in Texas at Jerry World with the loser Cowboys will run a family of 4 approximately $600 with parking (a bargain at $75) and nobody rebels–but that NYC flight better be $120 each way or Senator Chuck Schumer and the rest of the eternally campaigning congress is going to step in and condemn the airline industry for gouging. Maybe they’d do better to cap the prices at Jerry World until the Cowboys actually have a winning season–it’s been 15 years without a playoff.

      So anyway, I sat down last night at midnight and wrote this, thinking of all of the human faces at my workplace that are downcast with good reason–although the cause of the mess is a national disgrace. Just like the Cowboy’s season, I should add.

  4. I enjoyed this post, Chris. Been wanting to find out how you fared, as I am only a casual bystander to the recent bloodbath at AA. I am already someone who doesn’t fly well, so this is not comforting in the least. It seems the point you are making is a universal one. When will people come before profits? I think that this has become a recurring theme in the world and has reached a point where we will begin to see the effects on a regular basis. It’s not necessarily Chicken Little, it’s just the reality that cost-cutting can only go so far until….

    • You’re right, Art: there’s an edge of the world, eventually, in all matters technical and practical in aviation. The question is when does some one slip over, and at what cost?

      Meanwhile, the human toll is tragic–I just flew with a guy whose father was a 30-year pilot for Delta, retired ten years. The bankruptcy court stripped him of his pension–workers/retirees are considered by the court to be “creditors” to get in line with everyone else–so he went from $7,000 a month to owing $700 a month for their medical, with no pay check. In his 70s.

      Where does this leave the nation as more and more elderly lose their financial support? It’s bad enough for those in their 40s and 50s, but the handwriting is on the wall . . .

  5. Wow, Chris … what a powerful post. You’ve hit on a lot of important issues most people don’t give much thought to — ticket prices, disappearing pensions, disappearing jobs — and you’ve put a very human face on them. I strongly encourage you to consider submitting this as an op-ed piece. Drop me a note if you’d like a few editors’ names.

  6. Great post! I have been with AA for 26 years, my husbands a pilot for 13. Last month I had a FC pax bragging to me that he paid only $285 for his round trip FLL-LAX ticket and that he was only flying it for the free double points! The very next trip a lady also in FC who I recognized from the day before said she had overheard my discussion with the man…and that she got a better deal $234 round trip and at double the frequent flyer miles, she was set for the year to fly for free to visit her kids who are away at college. NO WONDER AA posted a loss of revenue!!!!

    • I don’t begrudge the bargain hunters–we all can and do search for the best price on everything from food to fuel. But it’s the skewed consumer view of cheap air travel as an entitlement: fees? Costs? Not a consumer problem; rather, a consumer right. I can’t imagine the government mandating a “car buyer’s bill of rights” where any upgrade MUST be included in all models, or a national menu regulation where every entree MUST come with an appetizer, sides and dessert.

      But air travel MUST come without fees for bags or connections or anything other than bus fare pricing? It’s a wonder any airline stays in business; or ultimately will, given the shrinking revenue margins and the cost of fuel skyrocketing.

  7. Cedarglen Says:

    A great post, Chris. Thank you. In my view, a bit too polite, but I understand the constraints under which you publish. It pains me to see the long term, loyal staff take the brunt of management’s ‘economy measures,’ but I know that the professionals will continue delivering safe services. The serious injury to pilots and other flying staff is awful, but the proposed maintenance changes may be even worse. The expected losses of “Institutional Knowledge” simply cannot be equated to dollars and I’m certain that safety issues will crop up over time. That they want to fly more international routes is a sad joke. This unnamed airline does not have the international metal or service to compete with non-US flag carriers and I don’t think they will invest enough to become serious contenders. My heart aches for those who have given 20-30++ years, only to have their hard-earned pensions yanked out from under them. You folks have every right to raise hell and I hope that you do. I also know that you’ll keep that discussion outside the operational cockpit. Best wishes, sir. -Craig

  8. Hank Foresman Says:

    Chris great analysis and spot on. My late father was convinced those who ran the airlines wee dumber than those who ran the passenger railroads.

  9. Great blog

  10. Chris- Very poignant post & heartfelt. The human side often is, & is often unknown of or contemplated. Unfortunately the “economics” jut don’t work for AA. The tried to a pillar by not going chap. 11 & asking more from “you”. Unfortunately your Allied leadership failed you, and when the relief crew showed up, the furniture was already flaming in terms of relations with mngmt. However it didn’t truly matter @ that point, the plane had left the gate & all those perishable open seats were, well gonna perish. It was too late & way too much on the pilots was going to be required to avoid the courts. Unfortunately Chris, those carriers who shed those jobs & “right sized” & outsourced all made profits. As did true LCC’s B6 & SW (but SW is quickly morphing in an ut-ohh we can’t just smile & sing outfit, we need to adopt). The difficulty isn’t fuel volitility (sic), it was the pensions & those snap-back to pre 9/11 dictates of past Allied leadership. 401K’s are part of the modern solution, unless AA becomes a municipality. I guess my question would be, how—considering that pricing is a race to the bottom—could every major airline save for AA have turned a pretty sizable profit (leaving out US)? Fuel prices are high, fares are low, but DL & UA made cash…and so did JetBlue. Would you feel unsafe on JetBlue? How does Alaska make cash? AA mngmt made a mess of blunders, the worst of which is that they were 8-9 years too late to the Chap. 11 alter…why? Pride? Robert Crandall left a nice nest for the next CEO, Carty was a bit of a mess, and Aprey seemed to come to work & be mesmorized (sic) by how he could open & close his window blinds…but in the end, it ain’t about right-sizing or focus cities or gas guzzlers, it is about AA not going Chap 11 in 2003 & getting employee benefits in line with modern times. Honestly, who expects a pension these days? School Teachers-Meter Maids…yes, it is a sad reality. UAL employees once attempted an ESOP & that flopped, and in other places we had the novel LBO…buy a company using the company for equity, cash out & leave a wake of debt. Now with increasing technology, the pointy end ain’t what it was when you were flying DC-10’s…for all of Sully’s experience, etc—what if that plane were a 727…same result in the Hudson? I know I’m rambling and left ya a lot…but the blame is to be shared, unless you can point to a noble part of the airline workforce…perhaps the pilots of US Airways! Still—excellent, excellent, excellent post Chis…I admire you. -David

    • I don’t disagree with most of what you said, especially regarding fixed benefit retirement programs: no one can afford them; businesses, municipalities, even the government.

      Regardless, the human toll is what I’m focused on, and to minimize that is to minimize our own humanity, a loss even greater than all of the dollars in question here.

  11. A post which should make everyone think very hard about their choices.
    We, the paying pax are the cause of all this. We expect low prices, indeed are encouraged by the vermin who rule us to demand them.
    We, who’s pensions are not threatened at the moment, demand of the corporations ever increasing returns on investment, heedless of the rapid approach of the edge of the world. Managements respond in the only way they know to the constant screams for greater profits.
    Before long there will be a shudder, one wing will drop and away our whole world will go. In fact I think the wing has already dropped.
    An old friend of mine retired a few years ago from “The World’s Favourite Airline”.
    He was pleased to go. They hadn’t started outsourcing maintenance to Asia but he was uneasy about sharing airspace with those who had.
    Neither was he happy about the competence of cut price aircrew.
    He was kind enough to provide me with a list of airlines to avoid, which I have done.
    What your country’s political class has to ask itself is; how can a great nation retain respect in the world when it is casting it’s own people to the lions? No major developed nation can afford to be seen doing that.
    I feel for you and those like you, who have accepted great responsibility for many years, only to be kicked in the teeth by their government and employers.
    I’ll bet that the “diversity” and “health and safety” prodnoses on the government payroll won’t suffer in the same way.

  12. David Fuhrer Says:

    I think the cause is a chap named Alfred Kahn & faith in a free market, not us. I think the cause was a rebel named Herb Kehler & a brain bent on innovation & circumventing Federal dictates, not us. This might sound fantastical or shear lunacy, but the modern-day propellent was a wart named Mohamed Atta, not us. I think the cause is a total loss of control over pricing inventory due to technology, not us. Kahn felt anybody with some $$ and a lucky rabits foot should start an airline. Was he wrong? No. Was it well executed in terms of deregulating? No, No. It should have had far more overshight & barriers to entry, while “bigger brains” denied some of the early consolidation. But it was Darwin redux. Herb certainly fought the good fight & won, but today his vision isn’t in sync with the market reality, or it is trying to be while the marquee decays—merger, dual fleet type, LGA, BOS?? SWA is a legacy….but a 401K legacy. Atta & his thugs, cost those 100K American’s their jobs, but @ the same time he induced a stupified management tier into actually trying to manage, & consolidate, & trim capacity…basically maximize efficiency. Technology & the dozens of cheap-flight websites erased sensible inventory management. One airline drops fare by a penny & they are REWARDED with top of the page placement. I travel frequently for work, & loyalty use to be my “calling card” more advantage miles with my flagship sundae please. Now, I ignore cost, & reward nonstop. When Chri’s carrier was wavering 2 yars ago, on a conf call with Wall Street his CEO, after making his cornerstone strategy the thesis of revitalization was asked “Is that all you got?!?!”. The ramificaitons upon humans, indeed the huminization of what Chris speaks, is wrenching. BUT the sad reality is that culprits abound. What about those below the wing folks @ US? Sensing that their careers are being jeopardized by 2 Pilot workforces who despise each other since the merger? I would submit to Chris, that from a safety standpoint I would feel more confident upon Dopey AIr vs. the day when a US West Captain & US East First Office are sitting @ the pointy end…or vice versa. Thankfully Wall Street is not circling, just retread airline execs, to make a quick killing with airlines. Amongst my favorite sayings re: Airlines remains “How do you make a fortune in the airline industry? Start with a large fortune”. Glum times…and not a vissionary manager in sight. Even Branson needs to keep pumping green into his American Virgin before clipping its wings.-David

    • I have nothing to say ever regarding the 9-11 vermin, never, ever giving them recognition as anything sentient much less significant.

      But Kahn? His experiment has failed as badly as that of his economist colleague John Kenneth Galbraith who advised LBJ that Vietnam would “be a short war and wouldn’t affect inflation.” Disasters, both, with plenty of wreckage, destruction and innocent casualties.

  13. Teresa Bailey Says:

    Thanks Chris. Good luck to you and your family. It’s a sad day for all of us. I miss my friends at AA. As a retiree I wonder what will happen to my meager FA pension and medical benefits. We all gave so much and so much was squandered. There are dark days ahead not only for AA workers but for our country.

  14. Chris, as a flight attendant with this airline, it is not often that a pilot brings tears to my eyes…(lol thank goodness), but your eloquent post just did. I feel safer with my pilots at American than I do at any other airline. I know the years of service most of you have provided to our country and the years of making AA one of the safest airlines in the sky. Sadly, I see it all changing. I worry about the next generation of pilots… I pray that you and our fellow pilots find a way of saving the profession. If not God help you all and God help the flying public.

  15. 9-11 has reduced regular biz flying to an ordeal, so unfortunately we live w/ the realities of what it was daily. I forget to remove my laptop from my carry-on & I get a full-on pat down body search AFTER my physical body has passed through all the security precautions, huh? I’m a private weekend fun pilot, and my passion was crippled a bit that Tuesday. Fortunately, unlike yourself, my livelihood wasn’t crippled. Your post truly brought “it home” of how ugly it is today on a personal level…my sentiments are meaningless to you Chris…but you have them. Regarding Kahn, ya his experiment was an epic failure…we agree. What are the #’s? Zero post dereg airlines flying w/ exception of the hybrid HP/US. However, it did drive pricing way down, and it also forced the airlines to adopt. Mr. Crandall & Sabre put Don Burr & People Express out of biz by actually managing the yield on the 8PM EWR-ORD instead of just having peak & off-peak & selling a seat for $79 when it could have gone for $179. I believe Kahn’s biggest failing was to not slow-roll dereg, not allow legacies to place fences around @ least a dozen+ cash cow route pairs, & a ton of other factors. Letting the market decide when its coke v pepsi—yes—-letting the market decide when it is the country’s air infrastructure upon which “you name it” depends—no. The effect was Burr creating a cult like environment 12 miles from NYC, & Pan Am scrambling for sudden domestic capacity to feed international & being in a bidding war w/ Frank Lorenzo…which resulted in a Lorenzo war-chest, which fed the game plan of break every union via chap 11 for carriers texas air aquired…and Pan Am vastly over-paying for a great airline in NAL that didn’t compliment its feed needs. Rambling again, but the implementation, and thus ramifications, of dereg was too sudden for the industry. Airlines knew it was coming, and when it did…billy-bob & his brother could go to their uncle earl & say, hey “lets start us an airline”.

  16. Cedarglen Says:

    Well! From Al Kahn to pilots (nearly) on food stamps, this post has generated a lot of feed back. I am gratified to see that virtually all comments are supportive of the working and flying folks and that the human component is still glowing, in a few places. I’m not smart enough to devine the right answers, but I’ve come to believe that Kahn was wrong. In addition to reducing airfares, he also nearly destroyed alternative, short and mid-haul domestic transportation options like bus and train, outside the worshiped Northeast corridor. Again, I don’t know the answers. I do know that having only four or five major domestic carriers, most of whom don’t want any route under 1,000 miles is nont the answer. Farming-out the shorter routes to owned or branded less qualified wanna-be airlines is not the answer. On the airplane and supporting it on the ground, from pilots to FAs and the A&P folks to dispatchers, I want to see long experienced professionals in the hands-on operations. Yes, flying is generally safe today. And I think that the fortunate bubble of luck and technology is about to burst. I used to fly, a lot and it was mostly an OK experience. No longer concerned with such speed and with the convenience evaporated, I still travel, but now consider other options for trips under 1,500 miles. I wish that I could drive to Europe or Asia! My heart is with the hard working line staff at AA. This is NOT your fault, not even when asking for fair compensation for professional services. Thanks again for the well writen and objective post. Maybe you have a future in the rock band business!
    -Craig

  17. You have my sympathy, for whatever that’s worth. The guy with the least capability to respond to the world gets most of the vices that the world comes with. In this case, it’s the commercial airline industry, or rather, its workers.

    Let us hope the airline industry will turn out like the maritime industries, and you people will get your jobs, salaries and pensions back.

    • It truly does come down to those with the least capacity to accommodate the change: there are a large number–thousands–of Delta Airlines retirees in the 70s and older who find themselves with no income and a large bill for medical coverage. But in bankruptcy, employees and retirees are seen by the court as simply “creditors,” just one more entity the company owes money to, and so they must get in line and hope to salvage pennies on the dollar of their retirement.

  18. Teresa Bailey Says:

    Chris, Did you hear what happened to Gailen? (Dear Sky Steward) He is being called in for his video posted on FB mocking the company. Check it out.

    • That’s really not surprising–the Employee Handbook, which I certainly studied in detail regarding social media–clearly prohibits any post that casts the company in a bad light.

      That’s why I seldom even mention the company, and never in a bad light. Not sure what he was thinking, but that’s pretty standard for any company as a condition of employment.

  19. Napalm in the Morning Says:

    Captain, As you know, I am no stranger to the who-shot-who quarrel in the airline business which I agree is not the focus of your piece.

    You have so articulately confronted the bitter reality of the human cost of the unravelling of this beautiful, alluring and chaotic industry with a direct yet sensitive clarity that makes me, once again, envious of your skills.

    At the risk of changing the subject, I wonder if we of high expectations and belief that personal responsibility conquers all, along with too many of the “ever-changing industry leaders” may have collectively erred by wrongfully assuming from the beginning that airline commerce in it’s infancy was built from scratch on a sound footing. Or, was it out of growing demand, simply paved over a marsh like JFK Int’l was and forever destined for a rocky taxi?

    Having read many publications from the thirties, forties & fifties, I suspect closer to the latter. Then came deregulation in the late seventies, which I still believe was a good thing that many of us owed our careers to. The problem was, this new-found entrepreneurial freedom came with the impression that fewer rules meant NO rules which bred a plethora of vulture capitalists and bottom-line Ivy League educated wet-head whiz kids determined to own the air travel business for themselves with $19 airfares regardless of the cost … human or otherwise. Throw in lots of political corruption (there was) and reluctant to adapt organized labor leadership shenanigans (there was) with the apathy of those not being directly consumed at any given moment by the fire … and the rest, tragically, is history.

    Too simplistic or harsh?

    • Neither–I think it’s spot on. That’s an especially good point regarding your JFK analogy: the whole airline biz was built on shifting sand. Now that the price of oil has swallowed up the gap between costs and pricing, there’s no slack anywhere in the cost structure. That will only get worse going forward.

      Now, if I could only get you to discuss this on the podcast! http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast//id496859195

      Chris 

      Sent from my iPhone, so please pardon the typos. 

  20. Sean Simmerman Says:

    I like your passion in this. I just would like to know what airline you are flying for because I have talked to several Southwest Airlines pilots and they love the industry. They say they are treated well with raises every year, great benefits, and a great pension plan. So I have a very strange feeling that you are seeing things from your side of the fence making you post your view from, once again, your side of the fence. So it may be true with the large legacy type airlines(AA, DL, UA, etc.) because of the fact that they are run more like major corporations, that I guess they are…

    Anyway what I am trying to say is I feel for you, but you should do you research into what is happening with other airlines, such as WN.

    • Hmmmm; 27 years as an airline pilot and I find out from you about this “Southwest Airlines” thing. Damn! You’re right: should have done my research.

      Truly, the fact that Eastern, TWA, United, Delta, Continental, USAir, Anerican and America West have all been through bankruptcy is totally overshadowed by some guy named Joe who told you of the shangri la that is “Southwest.”

      That’s it–I’m shutting down this blog. It’s clearly all wrong.

  21. Outstanding, heartfelt post. I agree with hmunro, above – an op-ed piece is called for. Get thee in newsprint, quick! Before they fold, too!

    There’s been a race to the bottom in our maniacal focus on bargain-hunting, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Capitalism itself is based on a model that requires the exploited in order to survive.

    My father had a profession, he was a doctor. He railed against the younger generation who treated it like a business and employed that model of profit-making over providing care while earning a living. What he didn’t see, however, was that while he denounced how other local doctors ran their offices, he shopped at the discount & big box stores that put the mom & pop’s out on the street.

    Imagine a world where we questioned the status quo, examined upstream our options and subsequent decisions, and considered more than our bank account. This relentless focus of scarcity mindedness only propagates greed, ignorance, and suffering.

    Everytime I fly, I marvel at the reality of it. A miracle, for sure, and one I won’t take for granted – nor the lives of all the people who conspire to get me from NYC to California in a few hours.

    Thank you for an impassioned and intelligent post. Best wishes!

  22. The Railroads and Truck Driver,Bus Driver are next

    • David Fuhrer Says:

      Rail is already heavily regulated re: employees, drug testing, etc @ ALL levels…meaning anybody-including Mngmt who enters a railcar in any work related capacity, goses through the gauntlet(sic)

      Bus is slow-slow-slow in gettting any regs for operators. Worldwide accident last year was a catalyst. Eff 1/1/11 drivers are not allowed to do anything but drive, that includes touching anything upon their nextel fastened to their belt. Nextel goes off, they pull bus over…for now at least…many 2 way communications platforms that are non distrating are in development.

      Truck Driver, I “ain’t” got a clue…crystal meth & george jones are encouraged, I think :-). FYI Chris, I’m traveling for work & took Virgin America on a route that the Eagle dropped BOS-LAX, they kinda suck & try too hard. B6 is a better experience.

  23. Excellent Post Chris,

    I agree that this should be an Op-Ed piece.

    There was one several years ago in USA Today in response to a Pax’ complaint about airline service.
    That Pilot made the statement that there is no other job in the country where the cost of doing business is passed on to the employee rather than the consumer.

    You have to include the fact that Management’s salaries have risen a great deal while the people who actually do all the work are asked to take Pay Cuts. If Management was to treat ALL their employees like the Family they say they are, then this incredible disparity between salaries and benefits wouldn’t be there.

    Plus the fact that airlines give away tickets to people who don’t even fly on their planes. Just because you use a credit card to shop at Wal-Mart shouldn’t qualify you to get a free airline ticket. (I don’t get a discount for shopping at Wal-Mart and I Work for the Air Line.) How does any of that make sense?

    Keep up the great work!

  24. keithpeers Says:

    yes i like it. great pic great reading.

  25. I will be starting my flight trainning in a month, and yes the airlines have gone off the deep end and starting pay is horrible, and I very well may be spending the rest of my working life flying tiny jets. But for me being a pilot is not about money at all, it is about the freedom of flight and the best office in the world. I don’t care how long of a road it is just as long as I get there.

    • Well that sounds fine from the outside, but those who’ve travelled the road before you find that “the freedom of flight” doesn’t pay the mortgage, and barely the rent. Regional pay is the rock-bottom, and the “best office in the world” starts becoming oppressive when you’re in it 20 days a month at all hours and in all weather.

      Unless you plan a monastic existence, relationships, much less marriage and parenthood, are an undue challenge when you’re gone most of the time and your family gets tired of not owning a home or having a standard of living above the minimum (some regional pilots qualify for food stamps).

      That’s the viewpoint from my end having flown for a major for 27 years. Never did the regional thing, went right from the Air Force cockpit to an American Airlines cockpit and don’t get me wrong–I love my job, especially having paid my dues for many, many years as a junior First Officer and a junior captain. Just don’t be surprised if things in the profession seem a little different from what you imagined before you started.

      Good luck, and fly safe.

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