goodness for cell phones. Truly, they’re
a nuisance for the most part (they should ban them in movie theaters and
restaurants), but when you’re stranded, there’s no better electronic friend in
the world. My buddy Steve and I went out
ice-fishing one seriously cold Saturday back in January of 1997. We worked in a tech-support group at the time
and it was Steve’s turn to be on-call so he carried our company’s cell
phone. It was kind of a big deal at the
time, the phone was enormous and it had a battery that you literally carried
around in a small suitcase and I’m sure it was expensive to operate, but it
sure was “cool” to have it at the time.
Bald Eagle Lake near
temperature but it was WAY below zero.
We were catching all kinds of fish and we fished late into the
night. Finally at 11pm or so, we finally
packed it all in. All of the ice fishing
equipment (and the cell phone) packed down into two big sleds. Each of us, already laden with bulky clothes,
boots, hats, gloves, goggles, and other protection from the cold, hauled a sled
across the ice for 1/2 mile or so to where we parked the Jeep. When we arrived, we saw that the
police department (small town cops) had changed the parking jurisdiction
literally that day and saw fit to
tow our now illegally parked Jeep. The
battle that would ensue between Steve (it was his Jeep) and the keystone cops
the end… but it was ugly). Our immediate
concern however, was about freezing to death.
We were literally miles away from a regular phone and we were on foot
between a rarely used trail around a relatively hidden lake, and the open
drifts of snow on a huge slap of ice.
reached for the cell. I said,
“Should we use it? Company rules
state that we aren’t supposed to make personal calls…” The look Steve gave me would have frozen a
witch (had she not already been frozen alongside us). “I’m calling for a ride” he said. Steve’s wife wasn’t happy about the call, but
she was kind enough to rescue us. Her
wrath spilled over to the police dept. too, but that’s another story.
stuck in a plane on the tarmac for what seems like an eternity, you have some
options. By “eternity,” I’m
talking about several hours, not several minutes. When you’re stuck, there’s always a reason… It’s not
always a good reason, but sometimes it is.
The airlines can’t hold you against your will, unless there’s a
legitimate safety concern (like lightning, or blizzard, or high winds,
etc). If there’s no risk to your safety,
the airline is basically playing a game.
Since it costs so much for the airline to lose their place in line on
the tarmac and return to the gate to open the door (thus canceling the flight
and opening them up to a truck-load of new paperwork, etc), they’re wondering
just how long they can “stick it out” before the passengers pop a
- The pilot of your aircraft has
the authority to overrule his instructions from the gate. Basically, he can return to the gate if
he/she wants to. If you keep your
head on straight and politely circulate a petition, the pilot may be much
more likely to return if he can later explain to his superiors that the
vast majority of passengers signed a petition to get off the plane.
- You have a cell phone
right? If the situation seems dire,
call the local police and/or local news station. The number for the Coalition for an
Airline Passengers’ Bill of Right (CAPBOR) is 877-359-3776. They’ll be happy to put you in touch
with your local media.
- Don’t let the experience
“go away!” When it’s
over, write a professional letter explaining exactly what happened,
including the flight number, date/time, etc, and ask what you can expect
in the way of compensation.
airplanes airports, etc, please call 1-877-49-EXPERT. Your questions will
be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in a regular pod-cast. Look for the pod-cast to be linked to this
page soon, or use your iTunes account to search for it on AllBusiness.com!