Passengers rushed off a Boeing 787 Dreamliner after it made an emergency landing in western Japan on Jan. 16, 2013.
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner had a nightmare week, topped off with the entire U.S. fleet grounded by the FAA last Friday, over risks of fire from its batteries.
This latest blow
followed an emergency landing of an All Nippon 787 in Japan last
Wednesday caused by a malfunctioning battery, coming after a battery
fire in a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston a week prior.
Costly Lesson on Outsourcing
Much of the blame
stems from the company's outsourcing the design and production of
components to suppliers in foreign countries. Boeing's plan was to save
money. The reality is that it would have been cheaper to keep a lot of
this work in-house, according to a LA Times investigative report.
The company's unions fought
outsourcing. "We've been raising these questions for five years," says
Tom McCarty, the president of the Boeing engineers' union. "How do you
control the project, and how do you justify giving these major pieces of
work to relatively inexperienced suppliers? There's no track record of
being able to do this."
787 has more foreign-made content - 30% - than any other Boeing plane,
according to the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in
Aerospace, the union representing Boeing engineers. That compares with
just over 5% in the company's workhorse 747 airliner. Boeing
executives admit that the company's aggressive outsourcing put it into
partnerships with suppliers that weren't up to the job.
"We gave work to people
that had never really done this kind of technology before, and then we
didn't provide the oversight that was necessary," Jim Albaugh, the
company's commercial aviation chief, told business students at Seattle
University in January 2011. "In hindsight, we spent a lot more money in
trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we tried to keep many
of the key technologies closer to Boeing. The pendulum swung too far."
In recent years a
number of companies seem to be rethinking the sort of offshoring
practices that Boeing (among others) has pursued so heavily. An
Economist piece this week outlines the trend.
Claims Nixed Over Jet Blue's 11-Hour Plane Hold
NY COURTS TO VICTIMS OF 11-HOUR TARMAC CONFINEMENT: NO RECOVERY ALLOWED EXCEPT FOR PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH. IT'S AN AIRLINE "SERVICE".
14, 2007. Passengers were outraged at having to stay aboard JetBlue
Flight 751 as it sat motionless on the tarmac at J.F.K. - for 11 hours.
NEW YORK, Dec 26, 2012 - Three New York courts ruled that passengers held for 7 to 11 hours cannot sue for damages, unless they were physically injured.
This, despite DOT rules prohibiting holding airline passengers more than 3 hours on the tarmac as an unfair and deceptive practice, and require provision of basic sustenance after 2 hours.
the underlying case, Katharine Biscone, a comedy writer, was bound for
Burbank, Calif., from John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 14,
2007. Scheduled to depart at 6:45 a.m., the JetBlue plane left the
terminal shortly thereafter. But it stayed on the ground for the next 11
hours. Biscone finally was let off at 5:30 p.m., then waited another
two hours to retrieve baggage.
Biscone v JetBlue Airways Corporation, a midlevel appeal court for
Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island upheld a lower court decision
dismissing the complaint by the plaintiff and about 1,300 others held
for 11 hours, without adequate food, water, bathroom facilities or
court found this was an airline "service" immune from lawsuits, even
though the plaintiff alleged the confinement was based on repeated false
statements motivated by pecuniary gain for the airline and its
employees: i.e. that the flight was about to take off and the
confinement was weather related.
courts accepted Jet Blue's argument, in enacting the Airline
Deregulation Act of 1978, Congress also intended to bar all tort
lawsuits such as false imprisonment, fraud or infliction of emotional
distress where an airline's conduct relates to its operations, unless
the passenger was injured.
DOT Three-Hour Rule was proposed and advocated for by FlyersRights in
2009. Prior to the rule, up to 250,000 passengers were being stranded on the tarmac for over 3 hours, for the airlines' commercial convenience.
Add-Ons Make Shopping For The Lowest Fare Difficult
In the good ol' days,
you could shop online for the lowest airline fare with a few clicks of
the mouse on a variety of ticketing sites. But now the companies that
supply information about flights and fares are complaining that airlines
are refusing to cough up a complete picture when it comes to fees.
That makes it tougher for consumers to find the best deal when all is said and done, so the government is looking into it.
Early boarding, extra leg room, baggage fees and other services muck things up and make it harder for travel agents and ticketing sites like Orbitz and Expedia, which account for almost half of all ticket sales.
"What other industry can
you think of where a person buying a product doesn't know how much it's
going to cost even after he's done at the checkout counter?" said Simon Gros, Chairman of the Travel Technology Association, which represents the global distribution services and online travel industries, tells the Associated Press.
If you can't compare
total fares as easily, you could end up paying a higher price when all
is said and done, depending on which add-on services you walk away with.
The DOT is looking at whether it should require airlines to hand over
that fee information to any entities that sell their tickets. It will make its ruling in May.
Delta Says Too Many People Were Getting Elite Status, Will Make It Harder To Achieve
have spent the last decade trying to get customers to rack up points in
any way possible. But apparently too many people were enjoying the
high-life on Delta, as the airline announced changes that will make it more difficult to achieve elite status in it frequent flier program.
Until now, to reach any
of the four "Medallion" elite levels on Delta's SkyMiles program, you
had to fly a given amount of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or
Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) within a given calendar year.
Today, the carrier added
a new wrinkle to the equation - Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs),
a minimum spend level that must be met before the traveler can be
considered for even the lowly Silver Medallion.
Previously, where it
required either 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs to qualify for the Silver level,
SkyMiles members must now also meet the $2,500 minimum MQD requirement.
Delta writes they are
making these changes "To create an even more exclusive Medallion program
and make it easier for Medallion members to enjoy the top-tier benefits
their loyalty deserves."
qualifying dollars spent is on the fare alone, and excludes the taxes
and tariffs. This is key since on most flights to Europe, taxes are a
majority of ticket prices.
So while that round-trip
ticket from NYC to London will cost you $846, only $204 of that would
count toward your MQD requirement.
Oh, but you can get out
of the whole MQD thing... if you spend a minimum of $25,000 annually
using the Delta Skymiles credit card.
Luckily the changes won't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014.
TSA Dumps Near-Naked Rapiscan Body Scanners
No more "naked feeling" at the airport.
A TSA agent demonstrates the full-body scanner at Los Angeles International Airport. (Los Angeles Times)
Under tremendous pressure by privacy advocates, members of Congress, health officials and critics, such as FlyersRights who said the X-ray exposure passengers were subject to could be a health risk.
The European Union last year banned the use of full-body scanners at European airports over health concerns.
However, TSA officials said the
agency has canceled the contract with Rapiscan because it had failed to
deliver software to protect the privacy of passengers.
Airline passengers were
offended by the revealing images, including those of children and the
elderly. The Washington- based Electronic Privacy Information Center
sued the agency in July 2010, claiming the scanners violated privacy
laws and has called use of the machines equivalent to a "physically
invasive strip search."
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
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.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.