Tag Archives: PeoplExpress

Best of Aviation Queen: Airlines Crack Down On Crime In The Skies, Says WSJ

Editor’s note: I’m  away on medical leave, so I pulled out this classic blog post from Feb. 28, 2012, on how the airlines were cracking down on crime in the skies. Enjoy!

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Back in the 1980s, I was a poor college student going to school at American University while almost all of my family was scattered around California.  Back then, the old PeoplExpress was my savior, giving me a cheap way to fly from Washington National, via Newark, to Oakland.

One of many unique things about PeoplExpress was that you actually paid for your ticket onboard. Flight attendants would come down the aisle and take cash or credit cards.  I saw my first air crime on PeoplExpress.  A passenger didn’t have the money to pay for the flight, so he was moved to the back and the police were waiting when we landed.

And having worked for two airlines, I’ve seen more than my fair share of reports generated when passengers act up on planes.  So I read this Wall Street Journal Middle Seat blog post — Cracking Down on Crime in the Skies — with interest.  “Increased fines and zero-tolerance policies have reduced `air rage” on planes, government statistics show. But dozens of passengers are denied boarding or kicked off planes every day, according to reports from airlines and flight-attendant unions,” says WSJ.  In my experience the vast majority of incidents reported during my tenure were alcohol-related. Some of the reports I saw included:

  • Inflight porn: I’m amazed at how many people had no problem watching porn on their laptops;
  • Peanuts: we’d get reports from passengers who were upset that peanuts were being served on their flight (if you ask an airline for a peanut-free flight when you book it, the request is almost always accommodated);
  • Alcohol: don’t try to tell a drunk that you’re cutting them off mid-flight. Ugly…
  • Seatbacks: some passengers took the lowering of their neighbor’s seatback very personally;
  • Overhead bins: some people felt the overhead bin over their head was their personal space, so removed items already in said bin. Hilarity (NOT) ensues;
  • Seats, in general: folks getting into fights because someone is sitting in their assigned seat and refuses to move; and
  • Food: airline runs out of buy-onboard food, passenger gets upset.

WSJ Report: Airlines Crack Down On Crime In The Skies

Back in the 1980s, I was a poor college student going to school at American University while almost all of my family was scattered around California.  Back then, the old PeoplExpress was my savior, giving me a cheap way to fly from Washington National, via Newark, to Oakland.

One of many unique things about PeoplExpress was that you actually paid for your ticket onboard. Flight attendants would come down the aisle and take cash or credit cards.  I saw my first air crime on PeoplExpress.  A passenger didn’t have the money to pay for the flight, so he was moved to the back and the police were waiting when we landed.

And having worked for two airlines, I’ve seen more than my fair share of reports generated when passengers act up on planes.  So I read this Wall Street Journal Middle Seat blog post — Cracking Down on Crime in the Skies — with interest.  “Increased fines and zero-tolerance policies have reduced `air rage” on planes, government statistics show. But dozens of passengers are denied boarding or kicked off planes every day, according to reports from airlines and flight-attendant unions,” says WSJ.  In my experience the vast majority of incidents reported during my tenure were alcohol-related. Some of the reports I saw included:

  • Inflight porn: I’m amazed at how many people had no problem watching porn on their laptops;
  • Peanuts: we’d get reports from passengers who were upset that peanuts were being served on their flight (if you ask an airline for a peanut-free flight when you book it, the request is almost always accommodated);
  • Alcohol: don’t try to tell a drunk that you’re cutting them off mid-flight. Ugly…
  • Seatbacks: some passengers took the lowering of their neighbor’s seatback very personally;
  • Overhead bins: some people felt the overhead bin over their head was their personal space, so removed items already in said bin. Hilarity (NOT) ensues;
  • Seats, in general: folks getting into fights because someone is sitting in their assigned seat and refuses to move; and
  • Food: airline runs out of buy-onboard food, passenger gets upset.

Top Five Interesting Stories Of The Week

It was a busy week, catching all the news from the Singapore Air Show and Heli-Expo.  We also saw President Obama release his FY 2013 budget and FINALLY sign the $63 billion Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill, which keeps the agency funded through 2015. So here’s what else went on.

  1. As American Airlines parent AMR Corp. continues its stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its labor unions, which have a seat at the creditors table, are doing what they can to keep as many jobs as possible, despite the airline’s recent announcement of 13,000 job cuts.  As an alternative to those cuts, two of the carrier’s largest unions — the Transport Workers Union and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants — has said the company should consider offering lump sum buy-outs, reports Aviation Week.  TWU is proposing $75,000, with health insurance and other benefits retained for 9,000 employees facing the chopping blog. APFA is asking for a year’s salary and current health, travel and pension rights for members with more than 15 years’ seniority.
  2. Anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog or who follows me on Twitter (@AvQueenBenet) knows that I think allowing cell phones during flight is another circle of hell. Do you hear the chatter that starts as soon as a plane lands? Can you imagine hearing that on a DC-San Francisco flight? One provision under the newly passed FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 is that Congress is requiring the FAA to study the impact of cell phones for voice communications on aircraft where such service is currently permitted by foreign governments, reports Mary Kirby (@APEXMary) in her APEX Editor’s Blog. Here’s hoping that the study will continue to uphold the inflight ban on cell phones.
  3. Back when I was in college in the 1980s, I was always trying to find the cheapest way to fly from D.C. home to San Francisco. My savior was PeoplExpress, also fondly known as People’s Distress. They had $99 fares, you paid to check bags and for food/drinks onboard. You even paid your air fare onboard. It wasn’t a luxury ride, but it got you from point A to point B at a pretty reasonable price.  The airline shut down in February 1987 and it was folded into Continental Airlines. Fast forward 25 years later, and it may be coming back. Some of the folks from the original airline are proposing to bring back the low-cost carrier and headquarter it at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport in Virginia, reports the Washington Post.  The carrier plans to initially serve destinations in Florida, New England, the Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions, then expand to other cities, such as Pittsburgh, Providence, West Palm Beach and Newark, where airline consolidation over the past few years has led to a reduction of non-stop air service.
  4. Like most frequent travelers, I’ve been watching with interest as the Transportation Security Administration continues to expand its PreCheck trusted traveler program. I covered the airport security beat for four years, which gave me a front-row seat to the private sector operated registered traveler program.  You can read my post on the APEX Editor’s Blog about how we got from a private RT program to an effort overseen and blessed by TSA.
  5. It’s Black History Month, and I’ve always had a particular fondness for those who were pioneers in the aviation/airline industry.  My brother from another mother — Greg Gross from the I’m Black and I Travel blog — shared the amazing story of Norma Merrick Sklarek, who died this year at the age of 85. Ms. Sklarek’s claim to fame was that she was the first black woman in America to be licensed as an architect. But her place in aviation history was secured as the leader of the team that designed Terminal 1 at LAX, which received the millions of visitors for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.  She also designed the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Not bad for a woman who began her career designing bathrooms for the New York City building department.

I was a busy bee last week, with an APEX Editor’s Blog post about JetBlue’s food choices at its flagship Terminal 5 at JFK Airport, two stories in Aviation International News’ Singapore Air Show publication (on Enterprise Florida and Canada’s Manitoba Department of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade) and a stint as guest host on episode 185 of the Airplane Geeks podcast. And last — but certainly not least — I got to be a judge, along with Henry Harteveldt and Brett “Cranky Flier” Snyder in a 12th anniversary cake contest to celebrate JetBlue’s 12th anniversary, as retold on the carrier’s Blue Tales blog.