I just received this email with the subject line “The FAA Reprimand Was Wrong!! Virgin Atlantic Gets it – the FAA and U.S. Airlines Don’t”. Do you agree? One thing is for sure it’s not factually correct as nobody has ever flown 3 million miles in a year — except an astronaut.
“I was on the Delta Air Lines flight (1063) that struck birds during take-off from JFK in New York last month. I recorded the take-off for my oldest daughter with whom I often share aspects of my travels. During those 16 seconds, I caught on video a flock of black birds being sucked into the rotor blades of the 757 jet I was on. Shortly after the media frenzy that ensued around this event, I received a stern letter of warning from the FAA that I would be put on some sort of record and that this would remain on file for two years. It also said that a civil penalty was pending consideration.
However, the FAA did not do a full investigation of my situation because they didn’t even check if my iPad was or wasn’t on airplane mode. They made no attempt to call or get in contact with me to clarify the circumstances surrounding this. Everything they knew was received via a broadcast on CNN. What is required for the American public is for the agency to fully embrace the era of transparency we are living in – not be a state of ignorance and fear. The FAA needs to provide up-to-date evidence on why there is actual reason for concern. The letter says, “Your failure to comply with flight attendant instructions during a critical phase of flight and an aircraft emergency could have affected the safe outcome of the flight.” Every day, 450 million people are on one of 29 million aircrafts. I can guarantee that ALL of these people do not have their electronics turned off. Between the people who think their PEDs are turned off and really aren’t and those that are texting and playing games, there are not 450 million PEDs turned off during flight. We need to be provided with accurate information by the government agencies that regulate PEDs.
If it truly is a danger for “the safe outcome of the flight,” the FAA has a duty to collect all electronics at check-in and return them to the passengers after the flight. Or, they need to ban all electronic devices from the aircraft. Don’t get me wrong— I am not for increasing the number of regulations already being imposed, any flyer knows we have enough at our airports and inflight following 9/11.
Finally, what is also telling about this development is that this service is being offered on a British airline and not a company that is US based. The airlines need to take a hard look at how they are going to up their game and whether they are going to be more than buses that provide basic transportation in the skies throttled by outdated rules and regulations. They would be well served to take a page from Silicon Valley and get in the game of innovation. Few would deny that most airlines need to recreate their brands to deliver once again a level of value that trumps price because there can be only one low price leader and Southwest has already cornered the market on that position leaving the legacy airlines to rely on a cycle of boom and bust. Practically every domestic flight that I have flown on (I flew 3 million miles in 2011) have been an average experience. In fact, US airlines offer a product that has become a commoditized service. I select an airline now for convenience, first and price, second – same considerations used for filling up my cars. Any issues or considerations about using a phone on a packed airplane should be focused on whether it will bother your fellow passenger who is trying to sleep or use the in-flight entertainment system — not because these things will make the plane go down.”