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July 10, 2002
2:26 AM   Subscribe

American West: Don't hate us because we're drunk.
posted by luser (33 comments total)

 
More like FARK material.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:41 AM on July 10, 2002


Funny, I thought it was more like WTF is up with the airlines sort of material. Making a joke about a recent non-terrorism related event is NOT a security hazard. It's an embarrasement and they should live with it.
posted by magullo at 3:30 AM on July 10, 2002


"Nowack said the crew decided to take the woman off the aircraft after determining that her remarks constituted a potential security problem."

The security of the crew's jobs.
posted by pracowity at 3:35 AM on July 10, 2002


I could easily have made that joke. What I'd mean by it, of course, is "I know your pilots aren't drunk" or even "Good on you for firing those pilots who flew under the influence."

So it's scary. It reminded me of a whiskey-stocking trip I made to Ireland. Late for the gate at seven in the morning, two bottles of Connemara broke on my chest, soaking me in wondrous pot-still aromas. When I boarded the flight(BA)a stuck-up stewardess wagged her finger at me and said: "No more alcohol for you, mister!" I protested of course, being 100% sober and so well in need of a gin and tonic. To no avail.

Luckily I had my trusty bottle of overproof Beefeater in my carry-on to secretly fortify the simple tonic waters on the rocks I humbly requested and was served.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:52 AM on July 10, 2002


Even if she was serious, so what? I think any passenger should have the right to ask about what screening procedures are in place to protect them.
posted by Miss Beth at 3:58 AM on July 10, 2002


How silly. It's not like the passenger posed a threat to the safety of the plane. She couldn't have poured those little airplane bottles down the throats of the pilots.
posted by adampsyche at 4:02 AM on July 10, 2002



True. I see the "security problem" as more of a face saving comment by AW than anything else. They know they have a problem, but they needed a convenient, irrefutable reason to remove someone. The reality is that it is something of a problem, maybe not a security problem, but a problem nonetheless in the tight confines of the airplane cabin. If overheard and taken not as a joke or simply a snide comment, the snowball effect could lead to pandemonium. It is not a situation I would want to be in.

Say, for example, the bug has been placed in others' ears about drunk pilots before the flight. Nobody says anything then. In flight though, the plane hits turbulence and people start getting worried. Can you imagine what might transpire with a cabin full of scared passengers operating under the false idea that the pilot might be drunk? It would get ugly.

AW was right for removing the person. It told everyone else that it was not the right time to say things like that. If that worman had true fears, she should have inquired at the gate or taken another carrier. I am not particularly excited at this new environment of "watch what you say at every turn", but it is time to get a little smarter in airports.

I'll refrain from commenting on whether I think all this new airport security bs really works other than I do not have faith in it. That is an entirely different thread.

I will add though that AW is probably the most reliable carrier to ride on (with respect to pilot sobriety) at this time. Given all that has happened, I am sure they have slammed the lid on their pilots.
posted by lampshade at 4:07 AM on July 10, 2002


and of course drunk pilots are not a security concern.....
posted by quarsan at 4:10 AM on July 10, 2002


What's scary is exactly what Miguel said -- any of us could have made that joke, as an aside to a fellow passenger, or as a cute little joke to an attendent.

Yes, I agree and understand that certain words are off-limits during this time of heightened security. But the airlines have always had way too much discretion to deny persons bording for stupid things like this.
posted by jennak at 4:12 AM on July 10, 2002


and of course drunk pilots are not a security concern.....

Of course they are, and it was dealt with and quite publicly. Not only did they lose their licenses to fly, the results of the tests were immediately made public, their names were published and their drinking exploits over the years have been published. Furthermore, they will probably face some form of prosecution as the plane was pushed back from the gate. Akin to being drunk, sitting in your car with the keys in the ignition. It is enough to get you a DWI.

I don't like this anymore than the next person - the heightened faux security or this particular incident.
posted by lampshade at 4:27 AM on July 10, 2002


I'm flying to the US (LA & SF) next month [first time in 4 years] and I'm getting worried.

Not about any possible terrorist actions but about the fact that any stray comment or unsympathetic facial expression in the presence or a flight attendant will get me thrown from the plane, tranquilized, locked in a darkened room for 24 hours or any of the above.

Perspective. Always good to have some to hand...
posted by i_cola at 4:44 AM on July 10, 2002


No lampshade, they may well be a safety concern, but unless they we so drunk as to be considering terrorist actions, which I suspect is unlikely, they were hardly a security concern.
posted by prentiz at 5:52 AM on July 10, 2002


not that i don't think this whole thing is ludicrous...

but the pilots being drunk does make it easier for hypothetical terrorists to physically overpower them.
which constitutes a security concern.

what i don't get is how someone just asking about that constitutes a security concern...
posted by juv3nal at 5:57 AM on July 10, 2002


safety concern

ahh....point taken
posted by lampshade at 6:12 AM on July 10, 2002


Lampshade, if you're so paranoid, then take the train, mate.
posted by magullo at 6:58 AM on July 10, 2002


"Security" was the wrong word to use, I should have said safety.
--
It is not paranoia. I have no problem flying. Apparently that woman did though and, like I said, waiting to get locked into an airplane cabin then asking a question like that is pretty short sighted if not downright stupid given the paranoia of the entire airline industry.

The flying public is wading in uncharted waters with regards to what we can or cannot say in an airport. Some of it is idiotic, some of it justified, but this is what exists and people have to think a little more. This woman said the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place and maybe in the wrong way. She got her wrist slapped and now we all know another thing not to do in the current flying climate.

I would have been on the phone with AW before leaving for the airport if I was paranoid. Instead, I trust that because of the publicity surrounding the incident, AW is at least on their best behavior for the time being.

This article is a bit more informative than the CNN one.
posted by lampshade at 8:48 AM on July 10, 2002


Hopefully this sets a precedent, so the next time Jay Leno makes a dumb crack, he's arrested or banned from flying. There's always an upside.

I love the use of the term "security concern." It's the new security blanket of the industry, the new scapegoat that lets them make any silly decision like this.
posted by mathowie at 9:08 AM on July 10, 2002


I hate airlines.
posted by evanizer at 10:00 AM on July 10, 2002


i hate people who insist very interesting posts like this one, should've been "FARK" material.

I guess the double post thing got old so now the Jake Aces have a new catch phrase.
posted by Satapher at 10:28 AM on July 10, 2002


Don't forget that before 9/11, there was a lot of concern about passengers getting into tussels with airplane crews. Sometimes it was alcohol, sometimes it was mental illness, and still others were completely indeterminate. So not all so-called 'security problems' an airplane crew faces will fall under the rubric of 'terrorism'.

What is clear is that since 9/11, airplane crews have been exercising their responsibility to have final say over who comes on their planes -- really, much like any business can pretty much just eject a belligerent customer, and call the police if they refuse to leave. Really, maybe the airlines should have a new class of flight attendant with the official title of "bouncer".
posted by dhartung at 11:29 AM on July 10, 2002


any stray comment or unsympathetic facial expression... I was checking in my luggage (Baltimore) and when asked if anyone else had packed my luggage I made the mistake of saying "absolutly not!". When I got home I found the insides of my suitcases had been sliced open (probably with boxcutters), completely ruining it. My lawyer told me to forget it.
posted by Mack Twain at 11:35 AM on July 10, 2002


before 9/11, there was a lot of concern about passengers getting into tussels with airplane crews

I used to follow these two sites pretty closely when I was traveling quite a bit for business. I am no fan of any air carrier, but it helped to have an idea what it looks like from the other side.

airrage.org
skyrage.org

flight attendant with the official title of "bouncer".

Check out the pic at skyrage.org. I think they are already there.
posted by lampshade at 11:59 AM on July 10, 2002


I was checking in my luggage (Baltimore) and when asked if anyone else had packed my luggage I made the mistake of saying "absolutly not!".

Huh?
posted by rushmc at 12:48 PM on July 10, 2002


Sent to America west customer Support:
I will not fly America West again.

I read today on CNN about America West's removal of a passenger because that passenger asked whether they had "checked the crew for sobriety." Your spokesperson, Patty Nowack, stated, "While this passenger may have been joking it is difficult to determine if someone is joking or serious. We take any comment regarding safety seriously."

I value safety as much as any passenger, or airline for that matter, but the fact is that even if the passenger in question wasn't joking, they were enquiring as to the safety of their own flight and person.

Does your airline see the irony in checking passengers down to the toothpick and nail file for possible threats to safety, while at the same time ousting any passenger who attempts to so much as ask whether the crew is in a fit state to fly? Considering AW's track record this month, it's a fair concern.

I refuse to fly on an airline that participates in the hypocricy of screening passengers in every way possible, while providing no protocol for ensuring against pilot intoxication, and ousting any passenger concerned enough about their own safety to raise that issue.

In short, an airline which protects its pilots above its safety is not an airline I feel safe entrusting my life to.

Sincerely,
Kevin Fox
Nyah, nyah.
posted by kfury at 1:34 PM on July 10, 2002


kfury: Well said.
posted by bshort at 2:17 PM on July 10, 2002


waiting to get locked into an airplane cabin then asking a question like that is pretty short sighted if not downright stupid given the paranoia of the entire airline industry.

It should not, however, warrant hauling someone off of a plane, causing them inconvenience and embarassment at the very least, and potentially much more. If she'd missed a business meeting and lost a contract, or missed her chance to see her terminally ill mother before she died, do you think that the airline would have anything to say but "Oh, gee, sorry" if even that much?

This woman did not in any way, shape nor form threaten anyone, she did not make a joke about any of the known forbidden topics like bombs or hijacking or crashing, she asked -- if in a lighthearted manner -- a serious, legitimate and reasonable question. If America West doesn't want anyone to talk about the potential intoxication of their pilots, then someone in their organization should've stopped Cloyd and Hughes before they pulled back from the gate so drunk that at least one of them was reported to have slurred speech! I know that someone who works for America West saw those pilots before they got into the cockpit, and noticed that there was something wrong about their behaviour, but no one did anything. This is a corporation we're supposed to trust with our lives?

"the crew decided to take the woman off the aircraft after determining that her remarks constituted a potential security problem. "

What, exactly, were they afraid of? That this woman would go beserk and demand to personally smell the breath of the captain? That she'd run up and stick her fingers into the drinks that the flight attendants were taking to the cockpit? That she'd start the other passengers in a group chant of "We won't fly/Unless they're dry!" or what? What realistic "problem" could this woman have caused?

None of the articles that I've read indicate who, exactly, took the passenger off of the plane, but I can only hope that it wasn't civil authorities. We're coming horrifyingly close to first amendment violations when flight crews can have passengers detained by police because they don't like what the passenger has said, or the manner in which they said it, especially when the language is clearly and unquestionably was not threatening in any way.
posted by Dreama at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2002


Very nice letter, kfury. Would that they received thousands like it.

a group chant of "We won't fly/Unless they're dry

:: snicker ::
posted by rushmc at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2002


Long before September 11th a friend of mine was travelling with his brother-in-law. When asked if they had packed their own bags the brother-in-law said, "Yeah, except for the bomb." My friend told him to shut up, but the flight agent looked quizically at them, wondering if my friend had said shut up because it was a stupid joke, or because there really was a bomb. She gave them the benefit of the doubt and gave them their boarding pass after my friend apologized profusely for the idiocy of the brother-in-law. I don't believe they even bothered to search the bags, but I'm quite sure they would been escorted out of the airport if that had happened since last September.

The airlines have a right to be precautious about anything suspicious, but I see asking if the pilots are drunk as a valid concern.
posted by jaden at 8:46 PM on July 10, 2002


Dreama,
Yes it does warrant hauling someone off a plane. Do you think that the AW crews are not at all spooked by all the publicity? Say what you will about whether AW is a good or bad company, but the bottom line is that we are dealing with people who put up with alot of crap in a teeny little tube that soars 5 miles in the air with few options. They have seen it all regardless of the quality of the company they work for. They know best defense is to err on the side of caution when dealing with a questionable situation and let the chips fall where they may afterward and I am with them on that.

Again, the flying public has to understand that we are in uncharted waters with regards to behavior when in airports or on the air. It is not like we have not been warned. This woman reset the bar as to the behavior that one can or cannot get away with. While some of us have gotten away with things, she got snagged. Like I said, now we know one more thing that we cannot do in an airport or airplane.

This woman screwed up. She was not arrested. She is not facing prosecution. She is not going to jail. She (if she has them) went home to her kids. She was slapped on the wrist for a completely stupid and inappropriate comment. She is not in a jail in Turkey. She did not lose any fingers. She was simply inconvenienced because she said something, whether it be out of nervousness or stupidity, that was not the most appropriate thing to say at that time, in that situation and to that person.

She got slapped on the wrist. No harm. No Foul. And she learned a lesson. We all have learned a lesson.

Question: The next time there is a scandal with regards to an airline are you going to start the questioning the lowest common denominator questions as you board?

I know I won't. I will continue to shut my friggin trap until this blows over. If I feel uncomfortable with that carrier, I will either find another or stay home.
posted by lampshade at 11:47 PM on July 10, 2002


Yes it does warrant hauling someone off a plane.

Why? She did not make a threat? She did not make any indication of intent to involve herself in any kind of unseemly activity, she asked a legitimate question. What about asking a question -- that just so happened to piss the flight attendants off -- warrants being removed from an airplane?

She was simply inconvenienced because she said something, whether it be out of nervousness or stupidity, that was not the most appropriate thing to say at that time, in that situation and to that person.

She don't know if her inconvenience was simple or not, and it is highly questionable whether or not what she said was inappropriate or merely unappreciated and therefore punished. I'm still waiting to hear any kind of reasonable interpretation of how the passengers comments quantified a threat to the safety or security of the flight. And moreover, I want to know how far we as the flying public and the airlines, who are not in a position to piss us off any further are going to allow flight attendants, not known to be the brightest group of people on the planet, to judge the intent in a completely non-threatening comment insofar as thost judgments can result in actions like this.
posted by Dreama at 4:47 PM on July 11, 2002


She don't know if her inconvenience was simple or not,

Blah, let's play mixed up pronouns. That should read "We don't know if her inconvenience was simple or not,"
posted by Dreama at 4:51 PM on July 11, 2002


You know, when I get on a plane (which is frequently), the pilot or flight attendent usually asks me "how are you today?" or something similar, and I usually reply "I'm fine, more importantly, how are YOU today?" I suppose that makes me a threat to security, though, since any physical weakness they might reveal in rsponse to my question could indicate an opportunity for me to physically overcome them and force them to fly me to the Seychelle Islands, and feed me grapes on the beach.
posted by JParker at 12:41 AM on July 12, 2002


She don't know if her inconvenience was simple or not,

Heh, what's a mixed up pronoun between friends? With the way it is going these days, that might make the security threat list!

Trip Checklist:
1) Airline Ticket
2) Turn off the gas
3) Hold the mail
4) Passport
5) Suitcase
6) Second picture ID
7) Oh, and this!
posted by lampshade at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2002


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