Turn your phone off when told to – or risk being kicked off your flight

Anyone that has flown knows that the cabin crew will make a big deal about having all passengers turn electronic devices off as soon as the cabin doors are closed. Of course, there are always a couple of people that need a little extra reminding. Then there are of course those passengers that need to make a call that is apparently so important, they’ll ignore all requests to turn their phone off.

A 20 year old man from Colorado fits that profile – and his phone call was so important, that it triggered a fight when he refused to turn his phone off. By the time the fight broke out, the plane had taken off from Charles De Gaulle airport, and four American security agents got involved.

With a disruptive passenger on board, the pilot took no risks, turned the plane around and landed back at the airport where the man was handed over to French police officers.

To make matters worse for this idiot passenger, United Airlines refused to fly him back home, and canceled his ticket. The flight ended up being delayed by almost two hours, causing a considerable inconvenience to everyone on board.


Another new day, another drunk passenger tries to open the aircraft door mid-flight

Rarely does a week go by without a flight being diverted because someone became “unruly”.

These incidents are often pretty innocent, involving a drunk passenger trying to harass fellow passengers. But every now and then the really insane (or drunk) take things to the next level, often with violence or by attempting to damage the plane.

Last night, United Airlines flight 223 from Washington to Las Vegas had to divert to Denver to drop off a passenger who had attempted to open the cabin door mid-flight.

Thankfully this is almost impossible to do because of door seals and the pressure difference, but that doesn’t change the fact that in his mind, he was ready to kill himself and many others on board the plane.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – insane and drunk passengers are a far greater danger than terrorists. See, you can use technology and profiling to spot a terrorist, but the seriously deranged are almost impossible to detect.

As usual, the culprit in this case was alcohol. He had been drinking before and during the flight, which once again shows how dangerous in-flight booze can be, and how important it is for cabin crew to stop serving intoxicated passengers.

The 129 passengers (minus one) continued on to Las Vegas arriving about two hours late.

United Airlines delivers best ever November on-time performance

As much as we love to whine about the airlines, we do still like to give credit where it is due. Such is the case with United Airlines.

In November, United managed to close the month with its best ever on-time performance since the Department Of Transport started asking airlines to report on their results in 1987.

For the month of November, United Airlines achieved a 91% on-time record. On November 26th they even managed to have 96% of their flights depart on time.

This really is an amazing accomplishment, and one that can all be traced back to United Airlines Employees. In January, United started a cash incentive program rewarding all their employees when the airline ranked first among its network peers. A first place is worth $100, and a second place is worth $65. The program is clearly working, because United Airlines employees have already earned $725 each, for a total payout of $28.5 million.

The airline is dealing with a bit of an image problem, so good news like this will probably go down quite well at their Chicago headquarters. Plus, as a United Airlines regular myself, I’d like to thank them for doing their best to get us in the air on time.


United Airlines bringing 165 call center jobs back home

Here is a bit of feel good news from the travel world – hidden between all the bad news was an announcement from United Airlines that they were going to move 165 call center positions from their International Call Center back to the USA.

The new jobs will be added to their existing centers in Chicago and Honolulu.

This news is great for several reasons – it creates new (and badly needed) jobs here in the US, and it means you can call the call center without having to explain everything twice.

No offense to the hard working people in their International Call Center, but if I’m completely honest, it was always quite the hassle to deal with them, especially if it involved anything a little more complicated than a simple itinerary change.

Of course – with good news also comes some bad news; none of these new workers will be anxiously awaiting your reservations. All the new positions will be used to respond to complaints sent to the airline.

In fact – United Airlines is so tired of people picking up the phone to complain, that as of April 2009, you will no longer be able to call them with your rants, and complaints will only be accepted through email or regular mail.

So much for progress.