Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes what sounds good in theory...

I’m all for passenger’s rights. Really I am. I think it would really suck to be stuck on the taxiway for 3 hours. Or 5 hours. Or 8 hours. I’m glad I’ve never been there. Passengers should be afforded opportunities for food, water, and working restrooms if they are going to be kept on a plane that long. It would be great if airlines could keep some emergency rations on board for such an occasion. But then again, the weight would probably mean one less person (probably an employee flying standby) on the plane. It would be great if parked planes could have the lav. truck come and keep them empty during long sits, but airport operations doesn’t seem to think of that.

I’m not a fan of the whole return to the gate thing. For one, only one plane at a time can use a gate. If the weather cleared, how would staff manage to get all those flights reloaded during a short break in the weather, or without effecting all of the flights that would currently be using the gates? I foresee chaos. Because it takes people a LONG damn time to get themselves on a plane. Walking down the jetway seems to make people move slower and they just can’t hurry themselves up, even when they know there are 100 other people waiting on them to stow their over sized carry on and sit down already. And heaven forbid they think ahead and already have the things they will need for the flight already out and accessible. Returning to the gates would be nice, but I can see why airline workers are against it. Not to mention the logistics of getting a plane OUT of line for take-off to return to the gate. It’s not a freeway with convenient off-ramps.

I read a CNN article about inclusions in the FAA reauthorization bill regarding passenger rights. “Embedded in the bill is a "Passengers Bill of Rights," whose centerpiece is a rule requiring delayed commercial planes to return to the gate after three hours on the taxiway. Alternatively, the rule allows the airline to send buses to take passengers off the plane so the aircraft doesn't lose its place in line to take off.”

Hmmm, ok, so the airlines have the option of maintaining a fleet of busses at each airport to drive up to planes in line for take off to take off the passengers. And again chaos trying to get the passengers reloaded and BACK to the planes once take-offs resume. How are these busses going to navigate the taxiways around what could easily be 50 or more airplanes? Not all planes have wings that are high enough for busses to pass under. Are people going to jump down from the doorways of the planes (there is a reason we have jetbridges!) or are they going to use the emergency slides? I asked A about it and there is probably going to be an overwhelming smell of exhaust in the air as well, from all the idle planes. It won’t be pleasant out there. I guess the bus idea sounded like a good compromise in theory…

I’m partial to some of the half-witted comments attached to the article as well, in particular the one that says “A family was thrown off a stranded plane when the husband asked for water for his pregnant wife.”. Really? Thrown OFF the plane for that? And there’s NOTHING more to the story then a man politely asking for water and the mean, nasty crew got so uptight they threw the family off the plane? Really? That seems a little harsh, I’m just sayin…

A few months ago, I read Ralph Nader’s Book Collision Course. It was dated, definetly, but an interesting look at some things about the industry that I didn’t know- the mandate of the FAA and its dual interests, the NTSB and its recommendations, the FAA central flow management system to name a few. The book definetly needs revisions, especially with regards to the training and management of regional airlines but it’s worth a peruse if you can find the book. Definetly some things in there that must have sounded good in theory.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paying the piper

Because of A's accident prone-ness (longtime readers will recall the broken elbow incident prior to the cancer...)and due to our own experience benefiting from insurance payouts, we are firm believers in the need for insurance coverage. Sadly, by the time everything is deducted out, it leaves us woefully short on cash. But we'd be even shorter if we were caught uncovered, so we suck it up. Insurance and other deductions we shell out for:

health insurance
short term disability insurance
long term disability insurance
loss of license insurance

life insurance
long term care insurance
union dues (well not until A completes the final two weeks of his apprentice period)
401(k) deductions

Today A saw the oncologist and got the real, official "yes, you can go back to work now" nod. Because I wasn't able to go and I don't completely trust A to relay correct information to me (can you blame me?), I sent him with a list of questions to ask. We were very pleased to find out that he may not need to undergo the same type of testing he has been having, which requires 2 months off of work due to his meds, but there may be an alternative method of testing. If we can get the insurance to cover it. His doctor still wants to see him yearly, more just to keep up than anything, and also promised to put in a good word for me with the hospital social work dept. when it came time for my internship and job search.

Things seem good.