Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mensch
January 14, 2011 11:36 AM   Subscribe

"A desperate Arizona man faced with a horrible family tragedy is praising a Southwest Airlines pilot today for displaying an act of human kindness some say is rare in the airline industry: he delayed a takeoff so the man could reach the bedside of his dying 2-year old grandson." Via.

"To most people 12 minutes is not a big deal, but to an airline pushing off a gate 12 minutes late is a big deal … especially to the operations of an airline like Southwest Airlines. With Southwest Airlines turning around many flights in just over 20 minutes from the time the cabin door opens until it closes again, 12 minutes is a very long time. For a Southwest Airlines plane to sit at the gate an extra 12 minutes means that is 12 minutes the ground crew can’t attend to another aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport, a major focus city for Southwest Airlines. 12 minutes means that the gate is occupied, potentially delaying another flight and the aircraft potentially getting delayed in its departure.

Many airlines would penalize pilots for unnecessarily delaying a flight … however Southwest Airlines has never been the same as most airlines, and the airline has publicly stated it is proud of its pilot’s decision."
Additional Coverage: 1, 2, 3.
posted by zarq (84 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Via link contains a letter from the child's grandmother. It mentions that:
"He is being taken off life support tonight at 9 o’clock and his parents have opted for organ donation, which will take place immediately. Over 25 people will receive his gift tonight and many lives will be saved."

posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on January 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


I heard about this, and was impressed on some level. It's nice to know that consideration was taken under these circumstances, and that communication all along the chain through the airport was such that they knew he was actually trying to get through security and not simply a no-show.

Reminds me somehow of my bestest girlfriend telling me a story about trying to get her eternally late for everything family to move their asses because they were supposed to catch a train. And she kept telling them, "Look, we can't be late. It's a TRAIN."

Her lesson was to lie to them about when things start from that point forward.
posted by hippybear at 11:40 AM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Southwest has long struck me as one of the smartest companies out there and my dealings with the company and its people have always been great. It's a compliment to say it is no surprise that a Southwest pilot did this.
posted by ambient2 at 11:42 AM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hard to know whether to be happy or sad about this. I mean, good on that pilot, bad on society that this is such an enigma.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Terrible thing, to be sure, but little graces like this are so important when you're going through such a terrible time. And for what it's worth, my initial reaction was, "of course it was Southwest."
posted by Mister_A at 11:44 AM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was also unsurprised to see SWA was the airline involved. They're consistently the best thing about air travel. I know that's a low bar to jump, but they do it and they do it well.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:45 AM on January 14, 2011


Consider that the best PR story US Airways has ever had involved one of their planes crashing!
posted by Mister_A at 11:47 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain to me how this is a heart touching story? Waiting 12 minutes is the bare minimum I would accept for any person, company or whatever for them to be considered having even the tiniest scrap of humanity. Seriously? Are we really this sad and pathetic as a civilization that holding an airplane 12 minutes for a grieving parent is somehow shocking?

Fuck us if we really give Southwest an ata boy for this.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:52 AM on January 14, 2011


Comparatively speaking, y6y6y6, rewarding good behavior is what influences more good behavior. Thus I think it makes sense to reward them for doing good things.
posted by Han Tzu at 11:55 AM on January 14, 2011 [23 favorites]


Fuck us if we really give Southwest an ata boy for this.

In other words: Fuck us for displaying the tiniest scrap of humanity when other humans display the tiniest scrap of humanity?

Atta boy!
posted by blucevalo at 11:59 AM on January 14, 2011 [20 favorites]


And on the negative side of this story, the plane never would have had to wait if Homeland Security had an ounce of sense or heart:

Dickinson arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to find a long, slow-moving security line. He says airport workers weren't buying his story about Caden and refused to let him jump to the front of the line.

posted by bearwife at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


Can someone explain to me how this is a heart touching story? Waiting 12 minutes is the bare minimum I would accept for any person, company or whatever for them to be considered having even the tiniest scrap of humanity. Seriously? Are we really this sad and pathetic as a civilization that holding an airplane 12 minutes for a grieving parent is somehow shocking?

Fuck us if we really give Southwest an ata boy for this.


Yeah, I kind of agree. Everything is stacked up to make it look like Southwest did something exemplary, when all they did was something out of the ordinary. That the ordinary is so incredibly sucky does not warrant confusing this bare minimum of humanity with something really praise worthy. But, then, my upper back is killing me and I'm in kind of a shitty mood.

But, seriously, just because a corporation or person doesn't act like a complete and utter fucktard does not make them particularly great. (cf., not all first responders are heroes.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ryanair is supposed to be the European version of Southwest. I can't for the life of God imagine it doing anything of the sort. For starters, try finding a telephone you can call to.
posted by Skeptic at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


y6y6y6: " Fuck us if we really give Southwest an ata boy for this."

Hey look, it only took 8 comments.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


I read the article; felt positive feelings. Then tuned in to Metafilter comments to see what angle someone would take to shit on it. Left not disappointed.
posted by found missing at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


This doesn't surprise me at all coming from Southwest. People may hate some of the things they do to eek out a bit more efficiency, but in 15 years of flying with them I've never encountered anything but super awesome SWA employees. And how sad is it that there's surprise that an airline would hold a plane for a guy going to say goodbye to his grandson? WTF, corporate America? 25 years ago this wouldn't have been news.

What SWA and a few other companies have figured out is that you make lifelong customers when you give a little freedom to your employees to do the right thing (thanks for the replacement laptop, Apple! thanks for fixing two out-of-warranty lenses for free, Sigma Corp!).

I can't count the number of times I've had a conversation along the lines of "Well, I'm sorry, this does appear to be an error in our system. I can't reverse the charge, though. Let me give you the number of someone who might be able to help." (ROT IN HELL COMCAST! SAME TO YOU, TCF BANK!)
posted by pjaust at 12:05 PM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't really get why they couldn't just put him on the next flight to Denver. Southwest has flight from LAX to DEN almost every hour. Couldn't they just have shifted him to the 1:00, or 2:10, or 3:35PM flight that day? The latest of these flights would have got him in to Denver at 6:55PM. I'm sure that's a heartless thing to say, but it would have been a 1 hour delay at the airport for one person, instead of a 12 minute delay for hundreds Or if they could have shifted him to literally dozens of other airlines for the same flight; LAX and DEN are both hubs.

Also did they go ahead and help everyone on board make their now-delayed transfers? The reason delays are bad is not because the airlines are heartless authoro-tons bent on punishing rule violators; delays add up. I mean I'm glad it all worked out but it feels like amateur-hour all around.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:05 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you want heartwarming stories without icky cultural criticism, stay off the internet and watch your local 5 o'clock news station instead. I'm sure this story will get lots of play.
posted by muddgirl at 12:06 PM on January 14, 2011


I was running down the gangway for a Southwest flight once and the door had closed and the plane was backing away. When the pilot saw me, he pulled forward and had them let me on. That was about 20 years ago. The flight attendant was a little snippy with me, snapping, "take the first seat you find", but I didn't take offense since I knew how lucky I was. I wrote the pilot a thank you note during the flight. Say what you will about the airline industry but Southwest has always been the most considerate.

Another airline (NOT Southwest), about 10 years ago when I was trying to make it to my dying father's bedside, was not nearly so kind. They wouldn't let me board since everyone needed to be on the plane 15 minutes before it took off. I burst into incoherent tears, which moved no one. They put me on a later flight and I didn't make it in time.
posted by shoesietart at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


Haters should read what 2bucksplus wrote. Intentional delays are kind of a big thing. It is not a token gesture by any means.
posted by Mister_A at 12:09 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe the pilot felt he could make it up in air, or maybe he took a vote on the plane. Haters will hate.
posted by found missing at 12:11 PM on January 14, 2011


Actually, I'm not surprised the TSA didn't help him and I'm not sure there is anything you can do to set up a system wherein the TSA can reliably help people with truly extraordinary need who somehow end up in a security line that can't get through in time. Not because "OMG terrorists could game the system!" but because the TSA is not involved in airline schedules, passenger accommodation, or customer service. It certainly won't enhance their illusion of security to accommodate visibly distraught travelers. It probably wouldn't help whatever actual security they provide to do it either.

That said, I am glad that when that barrier arose, however, the airline was willing and able to help the passenger. It's a horrible story and I like that there was human kindness out there to make the day less awful for that grandfather.

I remember in the olden days when airlines had representatives who walked through long check-in lines to find passengers who were in danger of missing their flights to pull them out and check them in first. I don't think airlines still do that. I can just imagine the shitstorm of pissed-off passengers--who got there with enough lead time to check in and get through security--if the airlines did still try to do that.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:14 PM on January 14, 2011


y6y6y6: "Can someone explain to me how this is a heart touching story?"

As the links say, 12 minutes can be an eternity to an airline.

There isn't much room in the system for delays. Each flight is depended on another. One delay may snowball others throughout the system, meaning dozens/hundreds/thousands of inconvenienced passengers (depending on how long they had waited), missed flights and worse. That's why airlines punish pilots who do things like this. A single quarter-hour delay can turn into a scheduling nightmare. The pilot missed his runway take-off time. How did that affect other flights leaving from that runway? Etc., etc.

He's a veteran pilot. He must have been aware that this could result in a reprimand, punishment or a fine from Southwest. Yet he chose to do the compassionate thing anyway. If he hadn't, one grandfather wouldn't have been able to say goodbye forever to his grandson, or comfort his daughter on the tragic loss of their son.

I agree with you that it's a damned shame that such compassionate acts aren't commonplace anymore. But yes, I also think it's both noteworthy and should be publicly praised. That's one way we can encourage others to act out of a sense of empathy.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on January 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


I love Southwest and I'm not surprised at all that if anyone did this, it's them. I'd still fly SWA, except that their "sit anywhere" policy left my wife (who suffered from major panic attacks at the time) and I separated on the plane on a cross-country flight. It's really more the fact that none of the passengers were at all wiling to switch seats, but it still makes us hesitant to fly SWA.
posted by explosion at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read the article; felt positive feelings. Then tuned in to Metafilter comments to see what angle someone would take to shit on it. Left not disappointed.

Hey look, it only took 8 comments.


I know I'm one of the "haters" (what a fuckingly dismissive term), but I don't think this is a fair response. There is a substantive disconfirming reaction here. Not liking this is not like berating a video of kittens playing with a ball of yarn. There's an implicit argument in the story and the post that says that this is to be lauded as an example of really sterling behavior. But it isn't that, no matter how good it makes you feel. It's common decency. Indeed, if it makes you feel really good, you should probably put some thought into what it means that something so banal on the part of the pilot, in the face of something so huge on the part of the passenger, stands out as extraordinary.

I make a point of personally thanking people who are helpful to me, people who are polite, and even people who are just doing their jobs. I do not think that any of those people are extraordinary individuals, even when their actions are extraordinary based on the prevailing tendency. (I'm looking at you Piney Branch Safeway!) Neither do I think that I should be lauded for being civil in my requests, or thankful, even effusively thankful, in response.
posted by OmieWise at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I winced when the story noted that Mark Dickinson is an "engineer for Northrop Grumman". Maybe he's not working on anything horrible, but chances are he's contributing indirectly to many children and others dying at the hands of a rapacious imperial government, for his own economic gain. Too bad.
posted by anarch at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2011


I felt a comment on the original blog post was worth repeating, since it probably holds water and puts this incident in a broader context:
Robert Herbst January 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Hi Christopher,

I heard about and read your heart warming story about the Southwest passenger trying to get to Denver.

As I hope you know, I think you do a wonderful job of sharing news, information, and even some opinions on the airline industry.

However in this story, I think you may have left a VERY UNFAIR impression regarding other than Southwest airline pilots.

As you are aware from our prior exchanges and interviews, I recently retired from being an airline pilot for over 35 years. During that time I have flown for three major airlines. I would further suggest I am quite familiar with the pilot groups from every major airline in the US.

Accepting the above, I can guarantee that you would never be able to find ANY airline pilot who would have NOT held a flight IF he/she had similar information as the Southwest captain in your story.

In my decades of flying many thousands of fights, I personally have and have observed many hundreds of flights deliberately delayed by airline captains for uncountable personal reasons that have ranged from simple flight connections to personal tragedies as described in your story today.

Please let me assure you that every airline pilot takes his/her responsibility far beyond the safe operation of getting their jet between point A and B. Any and every airline captain would, if he/she had the information, have no qualm delaying a flight due to a serious personal circumstance with a passenger.

The “problem” for issues like this unfortunate story is not about what an airline captain would or would not do in a similar circumstance.

The “problem” for the airline industry begins and ends with management business decisions that have completely lost sight of the fact that airlines are flying human beings and not just potential dollar bills!

Sincerely,

Bob Herbst
Airline pilot 1974-2010
Founder of AirlineFinancials.com
posted by bicyclefish at 12:22 PM on January 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


Dickinson arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to find a long, slow-moving security line. He says airport workers weren't buying his story about Caden and refused to let him jump to the front of the line.

I think it's sad that the passengers in the screening line wouldn't step aside and let one man through, assuming (perhaps incorrectly) they were aware of the situation from the case he was pleading to TSA.
posted by rollbiz at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The damn derails in this thread are absurd (that's the nice word, not the one that first came to mind)....

Anarch...when your kid or grandkid is dying... be sure to consider your profession before you decide if anyone should make an extraordinary effort for you.
posted by HuronBob at 12:30 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I winced when the story noted that Mark Dickinson is an "engineer for Northrop Grumman". Maybe he's not working on anything horrible, but chances are he's contributing indirectly to many children and others dying at the hands of a rapacious imperial government, for his own economic gain. Too bad.

Have you read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States? 99% of people in America are colluders with the US government. There's no need to state such a fact in every thread about every person, and it's particularly insensitive in a thread about a 2-year-old fucking dying because he was beat up by someone who was supposed to be caring for him.
posted by muddgirl at 12:31 PM on January 14, 2011 [17 favorites]


OmieWise: "I know I'm one of the "haters" (what a fuckingly dismissive term), but I don't think this is a fair response."

The comment I made was not directed at you and I've already responded in more detail to y6y6y6 about his comment.
posted by zarq at 12:32 PM on January 14, 2011


muddgirl said that much better than I did...
posted by HuronBob at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2011


Thank you, muddgirl.
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I approve of this delay.
posted by clavdivs at 12:37 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The saddest part of all is why the 2 year old was brain dead. I hope the scum that did that to him gets the chair.
posted by stormpooper at 12:41 PM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think it's sad that the passengers in the screening line wouldn't step aside and let one man through, assuming (perhaps incorrectly) they were aware of the situation from the case he was pleading to TSA.

I saw something like this happen when I was flying over the holiday - the other passengers had no problem letting a woman cut after she explained she was about to miss her flight. A TSA agent made a scene and sent her to the back of the line.
posted by Sibrax at 12:49 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


On my way back from Ft. Lauderdale last week on JetBlue, they held the plane for 30 minutes to allow people who were taking a flight from out of the country time to be able to get through customs. The flight we were on was the last for the night, so the passengers would have been stranded.

The woman behind me, with her 4 screaming, kicking brats (one just would not let up with the kicking) was acting like they were actively, specifically targeting her, and loudly complaining for the whole time, while only occasionally telling the Screaming Foursome to quiet down. A little.

"That's it!" she said to the stewardess, who we all know control all matter of flight patterns and scheduling. "We're going to go with Continental!"

Oh, and JetBlue made the movies free and sent a $50 credit to all the passengers on the plane.

Anyway, the moral of the story is I fucking hate people, and if some sort of galactic star chamber wants to go back in time and replace the dying 2 year old with the story with another child, I have four candidates.

And don't get me started on the family I met on the train.
posted by jscott at 12:51 PM on January 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Pilots are like Firemen. We love 'em. As we should.
posted by Xoebe at 12:54 PM on January 14, 2011


Remember, the spouse didn't call the cockpit. She called a customer service rep who wasn't too jaded to take action. To me that is the real story of why SWA deserves your business. Delta would rather charge me $150 to change a departure on a 90$ ticket. It's cheaper to not show up, rebook on SWA since I have to pay delta to fly my bags. As others have said, this company deserves your business in so many ways. This is a great story, imo.
posted by docpops at 12:57 PM on January 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


A child was dying and his grandpa wanted to be with him when he left this earth. Big business made an exception and did something nice. Who the fuck cares what the man does for a living? Why is that even remotely relevant?

Could we just possibly be happy with a nice feel-good story without pointing out the downside? Are we all so damned jaded and desensitized to everything that we can't just enjoy this moment of man's-humanity-to-man?
posted by sundrop at 1:19 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm more frustrated with the TSA than the Right Thing™ done by the pilot.

also.. poor kid.

.
posted by dabitch at 1:20 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm curious how this story broke in the media. Did the passenger call a local news station? Or did a witness post/tweet the story? Or did Southwest seed the story?
posted by prinado at 1:21 PM on January 14, 2011


I'm curious how this story broke in the media. Did the passenger call a local news station? Or did a witness post/tweet the story? Or did Southwest seed the story?

My understanding is that the grandmother emailed someone she knows who runs a blog critiquing/commenting on the airline industry. That's in the Via link in the post. He called Southwest to ask them for a statement and then published the story with the grandmother's permission.

People who follow his blog spread the story around online and it was subsequently picked up by a couple of media outlets, including AOL Travel. Most of the articles that I saw cited his blog for breaking the news online. From there, it seems to have snowballed.
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on January 14, 2011


Were Southwest dispatchers and supervisors orchestrating this? Or was the delay imposed solely by the pilot? I am glad of the outcome, but the tone of the story kind of leads me to believe this is more of a PR release than a story.
posted by crapmatic at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2011


I don't know what I expected reading the summary and clicking on the link, but I'm pretty angry at zarq for posting this link because it made my eyes well up. Goddamn it. I'm trying to be a tougher, less sentimental, less teary-eyed person for 2011. With these kinds of stories, I might never get there.
posted by anniecat at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2011


And don't get me started on the family I met on the train.

On my way back from California to DC once, two rows ahead of me, this mother changed her baby's diaper. It smelled horrible. The baby was very cute, but I feel ill when I smell that kind of thing. But I don't think there's a baby changing table anywhere. She did this towards the second half of the flight. It smelled terrible.
posted by anniecat at 2:00 PM on January 14, 2011


But I don't think there's a baby changing table anywhere.

Then either way it would smell terrible. Do you think they should have done an emergency landing?
posted by muddgirl at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2011


I'm confused how the ticket agent and pilot found out what was going on with the man and his grandson.
posted by sweetkid at 2:07 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


what a fuckingly dismissive term

What a glorious adverb! I don't know whether to take this as a pinkies-out version of fuckin' dismissive or to read it along the same lines as bitingly sarcastic, but either way I'm a fan.

Also, yeah, "haters" is annoying.

posted by nebulawindphone at 2:24 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure it's nice to be nice. But - with weather and machine malfunctions - I'm not sure we need more reasons for planes to be late. Don't make a hero out of this pilot's behavior.

Does anyone know what percentage of flights don't have someone flying for some emergency on them? Why else - beside business and vacation - do people travel?

If you multiply those twelve minutes times the perhaps hundreds of people on the flight and multiply that with the cost of their missed work/meetings/wages/deals etc... and factor the potential risk of the compounded effect such delays can have across the entire air transportation system - I suspect it would end up being more cost efficient to just put the late emergency goer on their own private jet to their destination.

The pilot and people that want planes to wait for every emergency can pay that bill. But they would go broke in a day. Compassion is cheap if you can spread the cost of your kindness out to everyone else. That isn't nice - that's stealing.

Wait for the follow-up story of the person who was sitting next to this guy who made the plane late that missed talking to their dying grandmother one last time by 12 minutes...
posted by astrobiophysican at 2:27 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Once again MetaFilter does not disappoint. Carry on!
posted by fixedgear at 3:40 PM on January 14, 2011


Wait for the follow-up story of the person who was sitting next to this guy who made the plane late that missed talking to their dying grandmother one last time by 12 minutes...

You might have to squint to see it, but the underlying logical fallacy here is that our story is real, but yours is made-up.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:42 PM on January 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Then either way it would smell terrible. Do you think they should have done an emergency landing?

That's a ridiculous idea. Even non-babies smell up airplanes on long flights. What do you want people with babies and children and GI problems do? Not fly? That's silly. That poor mom and can't get to the tiny bathroom because the drink cart's clogging the aisle. How is it their fault or the baby's fault? It's not like they can plan when the baby can go.
posted by anniecat at 4:09 PM on January 14, 2011


Excuse me? You are the one who complained about the smell. I am the one who mocked you for it. Is this some sort of performance art?
posted by muddgirl at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


That story brought tears to my eyes.
posted by chance at 4:17 PM on January 14, 2011


Sure, its a great story for swa, but it sucks for Caden...just one more baby killed by a drunk boyfriend.
posted by dejah420 at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, we live in a complicated society with many moving pieces that all have to be coordinated so that unprecedented numbers of people can enjoy reliable access to services. Holding a plane up isn't as simple as waving the guy ahead of you onto the thruway or holding a door open. I'm happy to read stories like this, especially when they involve professional and efficient coordination of effort so that everyone can have a happy ending (going on the assumption that it took some nontrivial amount effort to rejigger the takeoff schedule and that the pilot made the time up in the air).
posted by subdee at 4:19 PM on January 14, 2011


I was flying Southwest Oakland to LA for my grandpa's funeral a few years back. I can't remember why at the time, but the flight got diverted and rerouted back to San Jose. Because the funeral was that day, I was going to miss it. My family was already all gathered there, handling the many necessary arrangements, one of which was picking me up from the airport.

I was on the plane, now heading in the wrong direction, completely distraught. But by the time I had landed, the flight attendants I had talked to during the flight had notified somebody on the ground who called my parents and let them know that I wasn't going to make it. This saved my them the trip to the airport and needlessly waiting for me there.

I missed the funeral of course, but I was eternally grateful to them for making the hard day much easier on my family. A little kindness goes a long way.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Excuse me? You are the one who complained about the smell.

Well, of course it's going to smell, muddgirl. It's a baby wearing a diaper. What do you expect?
posted by anniecat at 4:29 PM on January 14, 2011


I am the one who mocked you for it.

Well, where I come from, mocking people isn't considered very polite or helpful in conversations. And neither is suggesting to land planes because a mom or dad have to change their baby's diaper. We're living in a society, you know. You just carry some Vaporub in your pursue and rub a little under your nose when it smells bad on long flights, which it will, baby or no baby present, and especially if they serve airline food.
posted by anniecat at 4:33 PM on January 14, 2011


*purse (not pursue)
posted by anniecat at 4:33 PM on January 14, 2011


You might have to squint to see it, but the underlying logical fallacy here is that our story is real, but yours is made-up.

Your logic being that a story isn't real unless it's covered in the media?

Statistically speaking, one in a million happens three hundred times a day in America.
posted by astrobiophysican at 4:37 PM on January 14, 2011


especially if they serve airline food.

Wait... they still serve food that isn't just crappy overpriced, overbranded snack boxes on airplanes?
posted by hippybear at 4:48 PM on January 14, 2011


Wait... they still serve food that isn't just crappy overpriced, overbranded snack boxes on airplanes?

Yes, I was given some horrible meals I couldn't identify the last time I flew to India and back.
posted by anniecat at 5:21 PM on January 14, 2011


I winced when the story noted that Mark Dickinson is an "engineer for Northrop Grumman". Maybe he's not working on anything horrible, but chances are he's contributing indirectly to many children and others dying at the hands of a rapacious imperial government, for his own economic gain. Too bad.

Didn't think the troll of the year award for 2011 would make it out the gate so quickly, but there it is.

A rather sinister form of bean-plating, to be sure. Christ.
posted by disillusioned at 5:40 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once had a pilot hold a flight for me for five minutes simply because my connection was late and it was the last flight to my destination that night (and yes, I was so totally literally running across the terminal). I always figured it was cheaper for them to have a flight be delayed five minutes than to give me a hotel voucher, but that doesn't make me any less grateful. This story certainly warmed a cockle or two in my heart.

Also, totally aside: anniecat... you're not making any sense. You complain about the diaper and then suggest that citizens carry VapoRub for annoying smells. Um. That was YOUR complaint. Are you giving yourself advice here?
posted by sonika at 6:00 PM on January 14, 2011


I think anniecat was commenting more on the corporate environment that led to there not being a basic changing table on board, rather than the smell. And now y'all are trying to convince each other that it was an impossible situation for the mother, who had no better options, and getting confused with everyone arguing the same point.

Anyway.

posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:18 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't think the troll of the year award for 2011 would make it out the gate so quickly, but there it is.

Glad to be of service?

I feel bad for his family. It's horrible what the mom's boyfriend did.

I also feel bad for all the other families around the world Mark Dickinson has potentially affected similarly. Abuse comes in many forms, and sometimes without intention.
posted by anarch at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2011


The conversation threads that result from posts I make never match up to my expectations.
posted by zarq at 7:17 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


astrobiophysican: "If you multiply those twelve minutes times the perhaps hundreds of people on the flight and multiply that with the cost of their missed work/meetings/wages/deals etc... "

Meetings ain't shit. And I'd bet twenties to Twinkies that the plane landed within five minutes of on time.
posted by notsnot at 9:02 PM on January 14, 2011


I think anniecat was commenting more on the corporate environment that led to there not being a basic changing table on board, rather than the smell.

I apologize for misinterpreting anniecat's comment. In my defense, the smell took up approximately 3x the amount of text as the lack of changing table.

Have planes ever had changing tables? Why would a changing table in any location on a plane reduce the general amount of smell? I've been seated next to the bathroom and believe me, it smells.

Planes suck, period. Their one benefit is speed.
posted by muddgirl at 9:33 PM on January 14, 2011


I also feel bad for all the other families around the world Mark Dickinson has potentially affected similarly. Abuse comes in many forms, and sometimes without intention.

Are you an American who pays taxes? If yes, then your tax dollars have done more damage than Dickinson. Period. End of sentence. Stop digging that hole.
posted by muddgirl at 9:34 PM on January 14, 2011


The shocking thing to me about this story is that the guy's wife managed to get a customer service rep on the line, escalate the situation (presumably) until she was able to communicate the info to the airport rep who then got it to the pilot. Just thinking about what number to call, who to ask for, how to phrase the request, etc etc. makes my head hurt.

Can someone explain to me how this is a heart touching story? Waiting 12 minutes is the bare minimum I would accept for any person, company or whatever for them to be considered having even the tiniest scrap of humanity. Seriously? Are we really this sad and pathetic as a civilization that holding an airplane 12 minutes for a grieving parent is somehow shocking?

Yeah, except the pilot didn't hold the plane for 12 minutes, he held it for as long as was necessary, which turned out to be 12 minutes. When he decided to hold the plane, he didn't know it was "only" going to be 12 minutes, but because it was, you feel what he did was nothing special.
posted by dobbs at 9:56 PM on January 14, 2011


Are you an American who pays taxes? If yes, then your tax dollars have done more damage than Dickinson.

I see. So if you were a tax-paying kindergartten teacher in Germany in 1940, you were doing more to support the Third Reich than anyone stuffing artillery shells in the Waffenfabriken. Right. I guess I'll just keep digging that hole.

If you can't see the qualitative difference between passive participation (without direct economic benefit to self) and active participation (with direct economic benefit to self), your doublethink skills are certainly more refined than mine.
posted by anarch at 10:19 PM on January 14, 2011


an act of human kindness some say is rare in the airline industry

I remember living in an America where that sort of thing wasn't all that rare. I miss it.
posted by Twang at 11:59 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for his family. It's horrible what the mom's boyfriend did.

I also feel bad for all the other families around the world Mark Dickinson has potentially affected similarly.


This is a strange non-sequitur that really looks like you're just trolling for threads to shit in regarding the horrifying atrocities committed by the military-industrial complex as a whole. I'm not saying there isn't a whole lot of horrible involved with that, I'm saying that an absolute thread derail is completely unnecessary here.
posted by disillusioned at 1:36 AM on January 15, 2011


Have planes ever had changing tables? Why would a changing table in any location on a plane reduce the general amount of smell?

It's unclear to me if anniecat was referring to train or plane bathrooms.

On most planes, the changing shelf is above and behind the toilet in the bathroom. It folds out of the wall like the food tray in the back of your seats. The shelf is large enough for an infant, but not a toddler. To my dismay.

I've changed one or two poopsplosions in airplane bathrooms. It's nightmarish. There's no room to maneuver... (are you a super-skinny contortionist? Have we got a bathroom for *you*!) ...your kid doesn't have a lot of room up there and mine really didn't like that the space was so tight, so they both tried to sit up and get down every five seconds. Oh and the hook on the wall that holds the tray in place is metal and juts out from the wall, so if your kid does sit up, they're likely to injure themselves on it. So there's a lot to handle.

In retrospect, the awful "You need to sit down NOW sir!" turbulence one of the times I had to change a messy explosion in my infant daughter's nether regions was not the pilot's fault, of course. But emerging from an airport bathroom smelling like poop because I panicked and accidentally got some on me sleeve *and* didn't know until it was also on my pants is... well... I wouldn't recommend the experience. Passengers who were cooing and ah'ing and making all sorts of ridiculous noises over my cutesy-wootsy child (ok, I can't blame them for that, she was adorable,) and the fact that you're the most precious thing ever: a dad flying alone with his daughter, not FIVE minutes earlier will inexplicably turn into snarling wildebeests and glare at you for stinking up the place. Oh, and also demand you fix the situation *immediately*. Which I suppose is reasonable.

When I first had my kids, I quickly learned that people just *love* small children as long as they're not being inconvenienced by them in any way. My kids are pretty well-behaved and I try to keep on top of them and make sure they're not being annoying. But I have a lot of sympathy now for other parents who travel with children.

My point is that sometimes, your being inconvenienced by someone else's kid is a not deliberate act. And sometimes a parent isn't being inconsiderate on purpose. They may just not be able to comprehend how they and their kids are affecting other people.

Anyway....

Regarding trains: I've only taken LIRR, Metro North and Amtrak with my kids and their bathrooms all had changing shelves, too. And more room.

Either way, there's really no need to change a kid on the seat. Uh... Unless perhaps you're traveling solo with twin toddlers and one of them has to be changed.... Which I can predict with 100% certainty will happen to me eventually.

*sigh*
posted by zarq at 6:03 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dobbs: The shocking thing to me about this story is that the guy's wife managed to get a customer service rep on the line

If I recall correctly, Southwest still only has live agents on the phone. I remember dialing (on the El) Southwest on my way to the airport to meet someone to see if the plane was on time, recently, expecting a recording with those horrid voice prompts and was shocked when a person answered. I think "speak to a live agent" is the only option, so at least there she was right away talking to a person.

For an airline that has a stripped-down, no frills reputation, I swear it's the only one which still actually treats its customers with a modicum of dignity and customer service.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:14 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


My, but we Do love us a shit-spoon.
posted by cookie-k at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2011


Anyway, the moral of the story is I fucking hate people, and if some sort of galactic star chamber wants to go back in time and replace the dying 2 year old with the story with another child, I have four candidates.

I'd like to go back in time and slip those kids Twizzlers for the especially well-aimed kicks.
posted by palliser at 2:05 PM on January 15, 2011


This is a strange non-sequitur that really looks like you're just trolling for threads to shit in regarding the horrifying atrocities committed by the military-industrial complex as a whole. I'm not saying there isn't a whole lot of horrible involved with that, I'm saying that an absolute thread derail is completely unnecessary here.

You're probably right on it being unnecessary, but it wasn't an intentional troll; I actually did wince when reading the "Northrop Grumman" note. If it was off-putting to inject that into the conversation, I apologize. I find it interesting to consider the many different facets of situations like this, such as the consequences that grandpa's job and comfortable life as an engineer had for other families around the world. But that's apparently not a popular opinion around here. So be it.
posted by anarch at 4:21 PM on January 15, 2011


anarch- Northrop Grumman makes cargo ships, ice breakers, trainers, surveillance platforms, air traffic control aircraft, NASA, and NOAA satellites, ballistic missile defense, passive radar detection systems. They have a contract to run the IT for the state of Virginia and other state government and federal agencies. How do you know that Mark Dickinson is involved in a part of this MegaCorporation that kills people?
posted by Megafly at 7:51 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


But that's apparently not a popular opinion around here.

Your opinion, as stated, was "If you work in any capacity in the defense industry, then fuck you."

Yeah, I can see why that's not a popular opinion.
posted by muddgirl at 7:01 AM on January 17, 2011


The amazing part here is that you can actually get a Southwest representative on the phone within 30 seconds, and that representative has the power to short-circuit a huge bureaucracy and send a message directly to the cockpit. I'm sure other airlines would delay a flight in this situation too if they knew about it...there's just no way they could conceivably get a message from a customer to the cockpit in less than an hour or two.
posted by miyabo at 7:06 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Wins-above-replacement, or WAR, is a Sabermetric t...  |  USA PATRIOT is up for renewal ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments