WASHINGTON (AP) — The shrinking space on airplanes is surely uncomfortable, but it might also be dangerous for passengers’ health and safety.
Planes are filled with more passengers than ever before. Fliers are older and heavier. Flight attendants warn about an increase in air rage, and experts question if having rows of seats packed closer together might make it harder for passengers to evacuate after a crash.
A consumer advisory group set up by the Department of Transportation dove into all those issues Tuesday at a public hearing as part of its role to make non-binding suggestions to government regulators.
Charlie Leocha, the consumer representative on the committee, said the government sets standards for the conditions for dogs flying as cargo but doesn’t dictate minimum space standards for passengers.
“In a world where animals have more rights to space and food than humans,” Leocha said, “it is time that the DOT and FAA take a stand for humane treatment of passengers.”
Fliers last summer squeezed into the least amount of personal space in the history of flying. In July, U.S. airlines sold a record 87.8 percent of seats on domestic flights, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statics. And that figure does not include all the seats occupied by passengers who redeemed frequent flier miles or airline employees flying for free.
“Unfortunately, the days of the empty middle seat are a thing of the past,” said Julie Frederick, a representative for the American Airlines flight attendants union.
Following the implementation of checked-bag fees in 2008, Frederick said, more and more passengers are carrying on bags, fighting for overhead bin space. That anger carries over through the flight as passengers bump elbows on armrests and bang their knees against tray tables. She said there are more cases of air rage, many of which go unreported.
Questions were also raised if the increased density of seats means passengers won’t be able to evacuate fast enough after a crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration runs various tests including how fast passengers can evacuate a plane and how fast they can put on a life preserver.
But Cynthia Corbertt, a human factors researcher with the FAA, testified that it conducts those tests using planes with 31 inches between each row of seats. Many passenger jets today have less legroom. For instance, United Airlines has 30 inches of room, known as pitch, on some jets; Spirit Airlines offers 28 inches.
“We just haven’t considered other pitches,” Corbertt told the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection.
Before any new jet is allowed to fly, the manufacturer must prove that everybody can evacuate in 90 seconds with half of the exits blocked.
Carry-on baggage is strewn throughout the cabin, and the test is conducted in night-like conditions. However, the cabin is not filled with smoke, and all of the passengers are physically fit, dressed in athletic clothing and know that an evacuation is coming.
“We’d like to see more realistic simulations,” Frederick testified. She added that most passengers don’t pay attention to pre-flight safety briefings, especially now that they can use electronic devices from gate to gate.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who chairs the DOT committee, noted concern that the FAA does not factor in human panic, especially parents who might take extra time to ensure their children are safe before evacuating.
“So they aren’t the average traveler, quite honestly,” Kane said.
On long flights, there is another risk for fliers: deep vein thrombosis, where a blood clot forms, typically in a leg vein. If that clot gets lose and travels into the lungs, it can cause a blockage.
iLL_D (via Reddit)
This just happened, my father was on the plane and took this picture.
He was screaming and sprinting towards the cockpit. Several large passengers tackled him before he even reached the door.
This was after the plane had taken off for Denver, after this incident it was returned to Dulles. He claimed to have bombs on board when first taken down. They are still looking into it but I imagine it was most likely a lie.
It sounds like it may simply be a deranged young man and not a genuinely credible threat. However it just happened 2-3 hours ago so the situation is still developing. Good on those passengers (undercover Air Marshals?) for intervening and stopping this man from reaching the cockpit and potentially endangering the lives of passengers and crew. The lessons of 9/11 are still fresh in the minds of many Americans and it seems unlikely that any future hijackings will proceed without resistance from those on board.
He reportedly screamed “Jihad, jihad” while charging the cockpit door.
From the video you can hear his first intelligible words: “My father *sob* made me…I’m sorry…I’m sorry”
He says what sounds like “my dad” again at 0:58 in the video. I’ll bet he’s so proud.
This piece in the WIRED was published just seven days prior to the downing of Malaysia Airlines (MH) Flight 17 and focuses on MH 370 that mysteriously disappeared back in March. However, in spite of both airline tragedies, the author (Alex Davies) discusses a revived proposal that’s been kicked around for 14 years: Putting cameras in cockpits.
The most popular theory regarding MH370 is something killed or debilitated the crew and the plane flew for hours on auto pilot before running out of fuel and falling into the sea. If that’s the case, the cockpit voice recorder will be largely useless, as it contains just two hours of data. Investigators would glean little or no meaningful info from the recorder.
A camera in the cockpit would augment data from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, providing additional insights for investigators. The idea was first proposed in 2000 by the National Transportation Safety Board, which said video cameras “would provide critical information to investigators about the actions inside the cockpit immediately before and during an accident.” Did smoke fill the cockpit? Did a violent passenger break in? Did the pilot pass out? Video could answer such questions.
Pilots don’t see the disappearance of Flight 370 as a reason to embrace cameras. They cite two reasons for their opposition: Video surveillance will almost certainly be misinterpreted or get into the wrong hands, and it can adversely affect how they do their jobs. “What a camera can capture can be so easily misunderstood and misconstrued,” says Doug Moss, a former test pilot and accident investigator.
Read the rest at wired.com
Putting cameras in cockpits is a very interesting concept and not terribly unrealistic. Indeed, we already see such devices on public transit including trains/subways, city buses, and school buses. The airlines could implement this on their own without government playing their hand and making this a rule/law. My guess is that either party (the airlines of the government) will likely face eventual ligation from the various airlines unions if implemented. The WIRED article concludes with an compelling quote from a military accident investigator:
Matthew Robinson, a retired Marine Corps pilot and official accident investigator for the Navy, says more research needs to be done before cameras can be installed in cockpits, to figure out the specifics of the systems. He echoes concerns about privacy questions and the cost of these systems. But as an investigator, “more information, more data, more evidence is always welcome in figuring out what brought down an aircraft,” he says. “I’ll never turn down evidence.”
Jodie Gummow debunks some common myths, many people, particularly, American’s believe about the country where she grew up.
January 17, 2014 | As an Aussie living in the United States, I find myself regularly confronted by Americans with the same common myths about Australia. Certainly, there are folks that say, “G’day mate,” eat vegemite, wear short shorts and subscribe to a carefree motto of ” no worries,” as they bask in the glorious sunshine. But, the vast majority of these stereotypes which have evidently been influenced by pop culture, are simply incorrect. Here are the most common, yet convincing, misconceptions Americans have about the land down under.
The add-on fee trend among the nation’s airlines continues as Southwest Airlines announced Monday a new $40 fee to let passengers board early.
Southwest, the nation’s most popular domestic carrier, already charges $10 for its Early Bird Check-In service, which improves a passenger’s position in the boarding queue.
But the new $40 fee guarantees that passengers get to be among the first 15 in line, letting them stow away carry-on bags in the overhead bin and pick seats with more legroom.
The new boarding option can be purchased at the gate, up to 45 minutes before boarding, and only when space is available, according to Southwest officials.
The fee was tested at the San Diego International Airport last month.
The fee is one of dozens that airlines began to add to regular fares in the past five years—so many that such fees now represent 10% to 30% of all revenue for most of the nation’s largest airlines.
In 2012, the world’s biggest airlines collected a combined $36.1 billion in revenue for food, drinks, wireless Internet service, roomier seats and checked bags, among other charges, according to an industry analysis.
NOTE: Whole article posted!
Sheesh! It’s an epidemic
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
A passenger on US Airways flight 1697 from Charlotte to Ft. Myers, Fla., had to be restrained and put in hand ties after attacking the flight crew, according to police and airline officials.
NBC-17 reporter Jonathan Carlson witnessed the aftermath in the Ft. Myers terminal, and spoke exclusively with members of the flight crew onboard flight 1697.
They say the woman got out of her seat and attacked the crew, kicking them, spitting in their faces and knocking one flight attendant to the ground.
Carlson observed one female flight attendant with bruises and bandages up her arms in addition to scratch marks.
The flight, which originated in Newark and stopped in Charlotte, arrived in Ft. Myers shortly after 6 p.m. and was greeted by police and EMS. The woman was taken out of the airport by police once the plane arrived. She was observed by medics in the terminal before being taken away. During that time she was screaming and crying.
The flight crew said a Lee County Florida sheriff’s deputy happened to be on board and helped tackle the woman. Flight attendants say the woman complained of being scared of flying shortly before she became violent.
Passengers on board flight 1697 were shaken; one saying the woman was restrained against a wall before being tied. Others praised the flight crew on how they handled the situation.
The same flight crew on flight 1697 flew the return flight to Charlotte later Tuesday night. That flight arrived safely around 9:30.
As a result of the incident, Peggy Albedhady-Sanchez, of Union City N.J., was charged with Interfering with an Aircraft, and Battery.
Police say once the plane landed, they found the woman restrained in the back of the plane, still combative.
Three members of the flight crew stated to police they were the victims of her assault.
They say she became irate after they refused to serve her alcohol.
In addition to the female flight attendant assaulted, the other two were slapped in the jaw and kicked in the groin according to the police report.
The woman also broke an arm rest on the plane during the incident.
According to The Jersey Journal, the woman’s hometown newspaper, the woman’s family claims a combination of medication and alcohol may have been to blame for the outburst. They say she was distraught over the loss of a loved one.
Sanchez remained in jail, and could face federal charges as well.
……the woman complained of being scared of flying shortly before she became violent.
Yeah, I’ve been a pilot for 42 years but I’m getting scared, too, with freaks like this and that Captain Bat Guano character from Jetblue popping up.
A Nigerian man flew from New York to Los Angeles using an expired boarding pass that belonged to someone else, media outlets reported Thursday morning. Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi reportedly boarded Virgin American Flight 415 at New York’s JFK International Airport bound for Los Angeles on Friday.
At this time, investigators are suggesting that Noibi is a tourist rather than a terrorist. Noibi apparently went through and cleared the physical screening process, but no one caught the invalid travel documents.
It wasn’t until after the flight took off that attendants realized an extra passenger was on board, officials said. During the flight, crew members asked Noibi for his boarding pass and, after hesitating, he handed over a boarding pass from the day before, KTLA quotes FBI officials as confirming. That boarding pass had another person’s name on it.
Noibi allegedly told the crew that the pass was outdated because he had missed that flight a day earlier.
The man whose name was on the boarding pass later told FBI officials that the document had disappeared from his back pocket when he arrived at JFK International Airport on June 23.
On arrival in Los Angeles, Noibi left the airport without being detained.
He was arrested after he returned to LAX on Wednesday and attempted to board a Delta flight bound for Atlanta, again using an expired boarding pass, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told KTLA.
Noibi allegedly told authorities he was traveling to Los Angeles to recruit people for his software business.
A search of Noibi’s bags at LAX turned up more than 10 boarding passes with various individuals’ names, none of which were his own, FBI officials said.
On an ordinary day, the sleepy little pizza shop that sits beneath a bright blue awning on Lincoln Avenue in Prospect Park sends out, maybe, 150 orders.
But this, as Dave Shearn will tell you, was no ordinary time for Cornerstone Pizza, the small business he runs with James “Buzz” Villas, his partner from Mantua, N.J.
Enter the U.S. Airways employee, the friend of a customer, who phoned at 1 p.m. Tuesday, to say: “How fast can you get 50 pizzas down here? And I need another 100 by 6:30?”
“Down here” meant Terminal B of the Philadelphia International Airport, where scores of workers on overtime had been pushing to send weather-weary passengers on their way.
“How fast” was three hours and 15 minutes to get all 150 pizzas baked, boxed and delivered hot to a senior manager who met delivery men on the drop-off platform to sign the credit-card slip.
Comment: Sometimes you just need a feel good story!
I’ve spent the night in La Guardia, a couple of times.
A friend pointed me to this article and I think it takes the hyperbolic cake. With icing. And sprinkles on top.
“Am I really supposed to let a total stranger rub my private parts because I bought an airplane ticket?” said Miller, who runs the jewelry and fashion website, iloveaccessories.com. “Would you allow your daughter to be patted down by a stranger and not feel like punching the person that did it? It leaves scars… just like a rape leaves scars.”
Rape? Really?! This is one of the more obnoxious statements I’ve read in a long time. She can always choice a scanner if she doesn’t want a pat down.
The article mentions two protest sites: optoutday.com and wewontfly.com which show the scanner pictures. If you haven’t seen them, other than for some lumps and bumps, there is no way to discern who these people are. It’s just a human form, rather a human digital form. For those screaming “scanner porn”, they have obviously never seen porn. I guess for some, the mere shape of the human body is porn.
Not to mention, say the words “rape” and “porn” enough and they lose all meaning.
I think I would be uncomfortable with either procedure. It IS invasive, but it IS necessary. I have to strongly disagree with Jeff Goldberg on the subject when he said that if they’ve got the bomb as far as the passenger gate, then it’s too late already. No, it’s not. These procedures will save lives and better still, it will make the terrorists think a lot harder when they try to hurt us.
A 5 hour flight still beats 3 days on a Greyhound. Our next annual visit to Cali, I’m going to chose the scanner and do a little bump and grind while I’m at it. May as well give TSA something to really look at.