Unless your head has been buried in the
sand, you’ve seen on the news that two men (a captain and first officer) in
control of a Northwest Airlines passenger jet, “got lost” on their way to
of. Every traveler I know is upset about
one aspect of this story or another, and there is plenty to get upset about:
How do you
overrun your destination by more than an hour?
What if they’d
surfing the internet?
warnings and buzzers?
Why didn’t the
warnings and buzzers wake them up?
Where was the
TSA and why weren’t fighter jets scrambled?
The story is so absurd that it almost
defies any sort of rational explanation, but answers to these questions are
starting to emerge. Planes are always
over-fueled to account for holds, weather re-routing, etc, so that was never an
issue. Had they crossed into
little doubt that the Canadian air force would have happily sent a couple of
fighter pilots out to greet them, and to escort them in to the nearest military
facility. Sure, there were text messages
sent, voices from distraught air traffic controllers screaming, warnings
scrolling and flashing on various displays, and if you can believe it, the two
people in charge of the plane ignored them all.
Why? Because they were logged
into their corporate intranet on their laptops, learning, bitching, and
commiserating about the new Delta pilot scheduling system that they were going
to have to start using.
Honestly, who does that? When was the last time you were so engrossed
in a corporate policy change that you missed lunch, or a meeting, or even a
chat by the water cooler about last night’s game? As sure as I’ll be in the airport again come
Monday, company network records show that, indeed, these two buffoons were
logged in and “working.” I thought that
when pilots worked, they flew planes; but I digress.
I only had two questions when I heard
this story; One: “In a post 9/11 world, why didn’t our government send up a
fighter escort?” and Two: “Didn’t anybody else on the plane have a GPS?” I learned the answer to the first question,
apparently a lack of change in speed, vector, or altitude was a strong
indication that there were no hijackers present and that there was no need to
send up a fighter. They were on alert,
So, why didn’t anyone else have a GPS
on the plane? Am I that much of a geek
that I like to fly with one? I’ll turn it
on and watch as the cities on the ground scroll past, underneath us. I also have a thing I wear called a WATCH. You wear it on your wrist and when you look at
it, you can tell what time it is. If I
know a flight is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, I check my watch when we leave so
I’ll know when we’re supposed to arrive. I can promise you, if I would have been on
that flight, I would have been very much
aware that A) We hadn’t begun our descent when we were supposed to, B) We
were over the top of, and then past MSP and still at 35,000 feet going 600mph,
and C) We were going to be very late
Come on fellow travelers, is there
nobody with the guts to hit the flight attendant call button to ask, “Where the
hell are we going??” I’m not advocating
a call to the pilot for every little change in flight path, but is it too much
to ask for the passengers to be at least a “little bit” aware of where they
are? We’re not all lemmings, are
we? If I were playing the role of “Parent”
at Delta, I’d want to spank more than just the flight crew in this situation…
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding
business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions
will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the
Expert podcast show.