I’m having a hard time typing this morning because I’m stunned …
Ice torture. Passengers on an AirTran flight from Columbus, Ohio, to Orlando were stuck in transit for 12 hours yesterday — many of them on a grounded plane. Flight 373 to Orlando had been scheduled to take off from Columbus, Ohio, at 8 a.m. But an overnight snow storm reportedly turned the parked plane into a popsicle. Ground crews used three truckloads of deicing fluid in a futile attempt to thaw the frozen plane. “We had no water, no air, they couldn’t turn the engine on,” one traveler said. The passengers were let off the aircraft for lunch, and AirTran offered them free roundtrip tickets for the trouble.
Is this enough to push the proposed Passenger Bill of Rights back into the legislative spotlight? No. But it should be.
Is economy class punishment? Serena Williams is threatening herself with a 16-hour flight in coach class if she is eliminated from the Australian Open. “I was thinking ‘Okay, if you lose, you’re going to fly coach all the way back to Florida,'” she said when asked what she was thinking while she played against her last opponent. “How uncomfortable that would be? That motivated me to do a little better.”
We don’t need Williams to tell us coach class is one of the most exquisite forms of torture known to mankind. But having her experience it firsthand? Priceless.
Losing your Virgin-ity. Our friends at PlaneBuzz are reporting the Transportation Department has ruled that Virgin America now must report financial and origin and destination data. Why did it withhold that information? “We can only assume that it didn’t want us all to know how much money it was losing. And on what routes,” PlaneBuzz noted. “So the airline played the legal ‘wait it out’ game by first refusing to do so, saying that it would be forced to ‘reveal confidential information’ if it did so.”
What’s shocking to me isn’t that Virgin and two smaller carriers were able to “opt out” of reporting that information for months until the feds forced them to show their numbers. It’s that there’s no penalty. What would the IRS do if I decided to stop filing my taxes?
Excuse me while my fingers thaw.
Update: My colleague Benét Wilson at Aviation Weekly has an interesting postscript to the Virgin story. Turns out its chief executive, David Cush, offered the following explanation for the confidentiality request in a recent interview:
We asked for confidentiality because we are a private company, and a private company should not be required to disclose sensitive competitive and financial data. Because of our network and our small size, our competitors would be able to go in with great granularity and determine our financial performance and perhaps construct strategies around that analysis to make life more difficult for us. There’s no public benefit to having that data public. And there’s certainly no public benefit of having our competitors use it to strike against us. We’ll wait and abide by what we’re told.