Tuesday, January 30, 2007


2067 SIGNATURES!!!!!!

We really are doing GREAT! We still need more so keep this going, if we all use our contacts and family members wisely if we all pool together and get everyone we know to sign this, we will reach our goal. Pass it on again, ask your friends and family as so many of you have to support this effort we are working so hard for.


Sign it for Airline Passenger Rights

Tell everyone you know.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I'm so excited about this!!!!!!! CBS

I am so excited to tell CBS our story and get the word out about this coalition. I'll be getting up at 3:45am to film at 5:00am. The early show on CBS your local station, tomorrow morning from 5:00am to 7:00am, we should be on the last hour. So wish us luck and WATCH us support the cause.

Melissa Wheeler

Friday, January 26, 2007

It wasn't the weather

One thing I haven't heard any of us from flight 1348 or anyone else countering is the absurd claim from anyone speaking on behalf of American Airlines that "it was the weather."

Of course it was the weather that caused the diversion to Austin. No one has ever taken issue with that.

But, and pardon my all-caps here, IT WAS NOT THE WEATHER that forced them to keep us in that plane on the tarmac for 8.5 hours. There's only one excuse — incompetence. Someone, not some non-being or "act of god," is to blame.

AA's comments to the press are just flat-out manipulations of the truth, and frankly they belong in politics, not people's lives.

Kate Hanni on CNN Headline News

Kate continues to speak up for legislative change-- catch her on CNN Headline News-- NOW!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Travel Weekly Article Quotes Coalition


Grassroots group argues for airline passenger bill of rights (01/23/2007)

By Andrew Compart

A group of air travelers, complaining they were stranded on an American Airlines aircraft on the tarmac in Austin, Texas, for nearly nine hours Dec. 29 with overflowing toilets and almost no food, said they are forming a coalition to push for airline passenger rights legislation in Congress.

Congress previously considered a passenger bill of rights in 1999 after passengers complained of being stranded on a grounded Northwest flight under similar conditions, and amid rising delays in the air traffic system and complaints about service. But the airline industry was able to forestall the legislation by agreeing to a voluntary bill of rights.

The Coalition for Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights, which is planning a grassroots campaign to add to its ranks, claims the voluntary measures haven't worked, and held a teleconference Jan. 23 to make its case. In addition, the coalition has started a blog at www.strandedpassengers.blogspot.com.

"We feel that enough is enough. This is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that this kind of degrading treatment is visited on passengers," said Kate Hanni, one of the passengers from American flight 1348, said in a press release issued by the new coalition Jan. 22.

"Thousands of legitimate complaints by travelers mistreated by the airlines are regularly dismissed or inadequately addressed by the industry."

American said thunderstorms across the entire length of Texas, "one of the most unusual weather circumstances we've seen in 20 years," forced the flight diversions that left passengers stuck on numerous aircraft.

"We have apologized to customers who remained aboard any of our diverted flights for three hours or more, and we included compensation in the form of vouchers in the apology letters. We have examined our reaction to the weather that day, and we have re-emphasized areas of our procedures that will help ensure that the situation never happens again," American spokesman Tim Wagner said.

That wasn't enough for some of them, and 15 of the American passengers signed a letter sent Jan. 21 to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

"On behalf of passengers of American Airlines flights 1348, 534, 1008 and anyone who has been forced to sleep in a terminal because of airline delays, anyone who has experienced mind-numbing delays and cancellations, anyone who has experienced the blithe and dismissive rudeness that too frequently accompanies the poor service, we are hopeful that you can help us light the fire of a new and long overdue consumer movement that will give air travelers the respect and fair treatment we deserve," the coalition wrote.

The group also wants the Transportation and Justice Departments to condition the merger of US Airways and Delta -- if the US Airways proposal reaches that stage -- on the adoption of a passenger bill of rights. It contended consumer-related conditions on mergers are commonly adopted, including most recently with the AT&T/BellSouth merger.

The proposed bill of rights would include a requirement that airlines "establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gates when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate."

It also would require that airlines "provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention."

Some of its other proposed rights would require airlines to:

Publish and update monthly, on each company's public Web site, a list of chronically delayed flights -- meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least 40% percent of the time, during a single month.

Compensate "bumped" passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of more than 12 hours by a refund of 150% of the ticket price.

Create a Passenger Review Committee, including passengers and consumers, that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.

To contact reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to acompart@travelweekly.com.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Comments from AA Flight 1348

WyreNut said...
This is a copy of a posting I made over at flyertalk.com -- WyreNut

My experience that horrible day:

Left Fresno at 7:30am (PST), and the ride got really bumpy entering Texas. "Well folks, this is the Captain. We've been diverted to Austin due to the weather"... Oh no.

Landed at Austin, and lined up next to 5 other AA planes. After about 2 hours they announced "A bus is coming to the plane to take the passengers who have Austin as their final destination". A lucky few deplaned, and the weather looked like it was clearing up (sun came out, etc.).

Then the promises began. "Well, they're going to make a decision in about 30 minutes". This mantra was repeated about every 60 minutes. Thirty would go by, nothing at all was said, then another half hour the captain would repeat it again.

My Palm TX helped me pass the time, and I was able to go online and look at weather reports for the area. Everything kept horribly dangling a happy ending in front of us - the captain's promises, the weather clearing up then storming over again, etc.

After about 4 hours, we were really beginning to get upset. The stewardesses announced "We're passing out what we have left - if you're not allergic to peanuts, please take them as we have more peanuts than pretzels!" The passenger behind me (who kept repeating over and OVER - "We're never going to go to Dallas!") accurately observed "GREAT! They're giving us peanuts, and now we're all going to be thirsty as HELL!".

The liquids began to run out. "Diet Sierra Mist? Diet Sierra Mist sir?" That's all they had left. People began to grab whatever they were offering, whether they liked it or not. More empty promises came over the speakers.

Now things started getting serious. The lady next to me announced she had Diabetes, and began to beg the stewardesses for something to eat. She was shaking uncontrollably, and her husband looked really concerned. Her meds were in her luggage. The stewardesses found an old crusty bagel, and a milk (which she spit out instantly as "spoiled!"). Three babies were screaming at the top of their lungs for the same lack of food.

I had been suffering from claustrophobic nightmares for 3 weeks prior to this ordeal. I continually had to talk myself down from the feelings of being trapped in my window seat by staring out the window at the storm...

I began to flash S.O.S. out the window from my cell phone (it has the function built into it) in hopes to attract attention, or possibly cheer up the other passengers in the plane also held hostage next to us.

BAM! Lightning. All the floodlights go dead that were lighting the area around us. Now all the planes are in total darkness outside. I'm still flashing the SOS and suddenly, there are Fire trucks and cops outside our plane. Turns out we have a disabled man on board who needs to deplane. Fire crew personnel board our plane and discuss ways to help him exit the plane. After a long discussion (during which I'm yelling "WE'RE BEING HELD HOSTAGE!!") they leave, and finally we hear "Well, we finally have a gate to go to!"

Cheers finally ring out from our bedraggled bunch. We begin to move, leaving the other AA planes on the tarmac. I'm just guessing 1348 was one of them.

As we taxi toward the terminal, we start to notice "HEY! There's an open gate! There's another one! AND ANOTHER ONE!" I counted about 5 in a row with no planes attached. WTF??!!

As we deplane, the flight crew tells us, "Don't go far, we might just take off!!" Another stewardess informs us, "You might want to rent a car..." I ran for a restaurant, with two other co-workers as we were starving. (Umm, chopped brisket sandwich...!) We decide to cut our losses, and rent a car for the 3-4 hour ride to Dallas. We turn in our boarding passes, and they immediately sell our seats to other stranded passengers! (The plane never left Austin that night).

No compensation was ever mentioned to us, or offered. "You're on your own if you leave!" was our warning.

Made it to Dallas at around 12pm CST.

Tried to get our luggage at DFW the next day, after speaking with AA on the 800 line. Informed our luggage would be flying into DFW at 8:45am. At 8:30am we arrived and asked the nearby AA luggage agent where the flight would arrive.

"Um, that flight was canceled!"
"Yes, we know, we were on it!"
"Oh. Well, there ain't no flight comin' in till about 6pm."
"We were told by AA it's coming in this morning at 8:45!"

He then had me fill out a lost luggage form. Had me tell him 3 items in my bag. Finally said, "well your bags are probably back in Fresno" and I reiterated FIRMLY that
1. I was on the flight, and so were my bags.
2. The flight overnighted in Austin.
3. Where the hell is the plane and my bags?!

He finally found the flight on the phone. "Gate C15, it's just arriving!". We thanked him and went to C terminal.

Found C15. Spoke with the baggage clerk there. "Nope, that plane's not coming in here!".

Oh God, here we go again. Continued to speak/tell/argue with the agent that we were directed here. Suddenly the carousel starts up. My buddy says, "Hey! That looks like my wife's bag!". He goes over to check, and then whistle's for me. "They're all here!"

.The agent has the nerve to continue to ARGUE WITH ME!!! "That can't be your plane!!". I was ready to blow, but was just glad to find my bags and was happy about the thought of being able to brush my teeth, shave, and take my meds!

If there is any legal action contemplated, I welcome someone contacting me. This whole affair was inhuman. I've emailed AA customer service and received a $500 voucher from them with an apology.

WyreNutFlight 534 from Fresno

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wall Street Journal Article

Runway-bound: A holiday flight becomes ugly

Tuesday, January 09, 2007By Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal

After hours of sitting on the runway, the toilets on the American Airlines jet were overflowing. There was no water to be found and no food except for a box of pretzel bags. A pregnant woman sat crying; an unaccompanied teen sobbed. The captain walked up and down the aisle of the MD-80, trying to calm angry passengers. At one point, families with children lined up to be bused to the terminal, but a bus never came.

Flight 1348, a San Francisco-Dallas run, had been diverted to Austin, Texas, because of thunderstorms. It was the Friday before New Year's Day and the jet was parked on the tarmac beside other stray flights. Planes came and went, but Flight 1348 was left waiting, American confirms.

After more than eight hours on the ground, and 12 hours after the plane had left San Francisco, the captain told passengers he was going to an empty gate, even though he didn't have permission.

"He said, 'Enough is enough. I should have done this a long time ago,'" recalls passenger Cindy Welch, who was trying to get home to Missouri. American won't identify the captain.
Flight 1348 was one of 85 flights American diverted from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport that day. Some turned into true travel nightmares, the likes of which haven't been seen since January 1999, when passengers on a Northwest Airlines flight were trapped for seven hours on a parked plane that had landed nearly a day late.

American's Flight 1682 from Oklahoma City to Dallas pushed back at 2:07 p.m. on Dec. 29, then waited eight hours and two minutes before canceling and going back to the terminal, according to data compiled by FlightStats Inc.

Flight 37 from Zurich, Switzerland, to Dallas was diverted to Tulsa, Okla., where it sat for 10 hours. Pilots couldn't take off because they reached federal limits on duty time, American says. Tulsa doesn't have a Customs and Immigration facility so no one could get off. By the time the plane reached Dallas, landing at 1:33 a.m., according to Federal Aviation Administration data, passengers had been on board more 22 hours.

How does this happen? After years of cutting staff, carriers are less capable of handling crises -- from not having enough telephone reservationists to handle calls, or extra bodies to empty toilet tanks or spare pilots and flight attendants to help out when delays stack up. Congestion in the air and at airports exacerbates the messes caused when storms hit.

Delays have increased steadily over the past five years, approaching levels not seen since 1999 and 2000. The rate of mishandled bags is 68 percent higher than in 2002 -- that year was a recent low -- and consumer complaints have increased in each of the past four years.
AMR Corp.'s American, the world's biggest airline, says it was reluctant to cancel flights on Dec. 29 because planes were packed with holiday travelers. Instead, when storms were forecast at its Dallas hub, it opted to delay flights. As it happens, Dallas got whacked with by an unseasonably strong thunderstorm that didn't move out of the area for hours. Landings slowed to a crawl and lightning forced ground workers indoors several times. Planes on the ground waited, thinking skies would clear, but they didn't.

The carrier says it is re-evaluating its flight-diversion strategy. It is also is studying whether it should adopt a harder time limit on how long planes can sit and wait.

In the case of Flight 1348, according to interviews with four passengers plus officials at American, the problems were compounded by a lack of staff, the result of cost-cutting and holiday vacations, and some bad decisions.

American's Austin operations were overwhelmed when 14 planes landed unexpectedly, American says. The airline delivered some snacks and drinks to airplanes, but quickly ran out. A worker tried to service toilets when he could get time, but was held back by lightning. American tried to call in more staff with little success due to the holiday weekend. "We got caught short-handed," says American spokesman John Hotard.

American also made a pivotal decision: According to airline officials, Austin managers decided to focus on handling regular flights to other cities, such as Chicago and St. Louis, hoping they could stay on schedule. They let the diverted Dallas planes sit.

And sit.

Flight 1348 was snake-bit from the start. The plane was an hour late leaving San Francisco because of mechanical problems that forced a switch of airplanes. The flight left the gate at 7:10 a.m., instead of its 6:05 scheduled departure, and the delay proved critical. An on-time arrival would have beaten the bad weather.

When Flight 1348 reached west Texas, storms were moving in. American says the pilot was told to divert to Austin where he could refuel and wait for a break in the weather for the short hop to Dallas.
After landing, American allowed about 20 local Austin and San Antonio passengers to get off rather than wait to fly to Dallas only to hop on a connection back to Austin. Their luggage, however, remained on board, say passengers and American.

American expected the storms to hit between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., and then move out of the area. Instead, they started earlier and lingered into the night. For hours, the crew thought they'd ultimately be able to fly to Dallas, only to have hopes dashed. Worse, the storm had moved into Austin, too.

Whether to keep waiting or give up is one of the most difficult decisions for airlines, taxing both operations and finances. Often travelers and airlines prefer to wait as long as possible for the chance to reach their destinations. Moving a plane to a gate for a bathroom break could cost a flight its place in line among the hundreds trying to leave. It could also mean the crew might run into federal time limits that regulate the work day. Unless new pilots and flight attendants are available, continuing the trip would have to wait until the next day.

"If we take you to the gate, and it's a holiday period, we may not get you out of there for three days," says Mr. Hotard.

For Flight 1348, conditions in the 11-foot-wide MD-80 cabin quickly deteriorated -- toilets overflowed, families ran out of baby diapers, one man exclaimed he was down to his last piece of Nicorette gum, passengers recall. "It was pathetic. The toilets had gone from gas station to a Carlos Santana concert," said Andy Welch, husband of Cindy Welch.

American says a worker did empty toilet tanks on Flight 1348, but not until the plane had been on the ground for five hours or more. Even then, the stench typically lingers on an aircraft that isn't moving, one airline official says.

The captain told passengers he was calling everyone he could think of to get permission to use a gate. He told them he talked to two American chief pilots as well as the manager of the Austin operations. The airline confirms the Austin manager was in contact with the pilots.

Many people at American were aware of Flight 1348. A mother whose son was on the plane called a company spokesman, one passenger called a Dallas television station, another called a friend who was a freelance writer, who wrote a story that day for the Dallas Morning News.
Instead of opening a gate for Flight 1348, American's four gates were used to operate the airline's regular schedule, including a few flights to Dallas that did depart. "The pilot kept telling us they would not give us a gate," says Katie Dickson, who was trying to get to Belize with her husband and five-year-old daughter. "At one point he said, 'I am so embarrassed for American Airlines.'"

Several passengers got increasingly angry and yelled at the crew, but the captain, Mrs. Dickson recalls, kept calm. "It was a little scary to have that many people in such a closed space," she says.

Passengers rallied -- some mothers digging out granola bars for a young man who was famished, some people translating for a couple who didn't speak English. A few passengers were allowed down the staircase in the plane's tail to the tarmac to walk dogs that had been in the cargo hold. Mrs. Dickson says she found the ordeal "unbelievable, just mind-boggling."

At 9 p.m., Flight 1348's passengers finally got inside the Austin terminal, where they couldn't find anyone from American to help them with flights or hotels. Passengers say the scene was chaotic. Only about half the luggage made it off the flight. American says its baggage system in Austin was overwhelmed by the volume.

The Dicksons rented a car and drove to Dallas, and were able to get a flight to Belize the next day for their shortened vacation. The Welches waited in a line at the ticket counter, which was staffed by just two employees, they recall. They stood in line three hours. When they reached the counter, Mrs. Welch asked for a hotel voucher. The agent declined, Mrs. Welch says, saying the problem was caused by weather and American wasn't responsible.

Mrs. Welch began crying. She argued that the flight wouldn't have been in Austin if not for the original delay in San Francisco. The ticket agent relented and gave her a voucher for a hotel stay and breakfast.

"The most maddening thing was no one from American Airlines ever approached us and apologized," she says. Adds Mrs. Dickson: "I still don't understand what happened. If I had an explanation from American, I'd feel better."

American's Mr. Hotard says the airline is truly sorry for the mess. He says one reason the airline may not have contacted customers to apologize is that its Fort Worth headquarters, where customer-service specialists work, was closed for four days over New Year's.