Beer Jumper Sparks Air Travel Debate

DOT Rules Working

Legislature in Recess, but Issues Remain

Kate’s Week

Volunteer of the Month

JetBlue Flight Attendant Sparks Debate

When JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater slipped off the end of his rope last week, ranting over the intercom before grabbing a couple of beers from the service cart, activating an exit escape slide, and dramatically exiting the aircraft, he brought airline travel frustration into national headlines.

If you have read a newspaper, watched a TV news show, listened to the radio or opened your own home page, then you are undoubtedly familiar with this incident. The publicity surrounding Slater’s action catapulted years of growing air travel frustration, resentment and anger to the front page.

As you’ll see in the new “Kate’s Week” section below, I’ve had a busy week, talking about this incident and its meaning. I’ve been making two points. First, Mr. Slater’s actions are really not defensible. Anyone in a customer-facing position cannot treat their customers like that.

At the same time, as I said to Seattle Times reporter Carol Pucci, “Things have reached the tipping point. It’s truly trench warfare out there for both passengers and flight attendants.” Years of marginalization of both passengers and crew by airlines chasing the bottom line have left us all just fed up on a bunch of levels.

DOT Rules Working
Despite claims and threats by the airlines that the new rules, including the 3 Hour Rule would spark mass cancellations and apocalyptic upheaval for passengers, just the opposite has taken place–tarmac strandings are way down and the number of cancellations has not changed.

According to the latest data, last year in June there were 268 tarmac delays of over 3 hours. This year in June there were 3. Additionally, despite threats that the new rule would cause mass cancellations by the airlines rate was 1.5% this year in June and 1.5% last year in June. To see the latest DOT data on this go to:

We did this, my friends, and we need to keep the idea moving into federal law.

Congress and Senate in Recess-We Need to Prepare for September
The House of Representatives and the Unites States Senate are in recess right now, but will address the 2010 FAA Reauthorization Bill shortly after they return. We need to plan an event for September to prevent any further kicking of the can down the road…and we’d love ideas and volunteers to help us strategize.

Kate’s Week
To keep you better informed on Flyers’ Rights efforts on your behalf, I’ll try to outline my efforts each week. As you know, I work with the legislative branch and with top-level government officials to keep passenger rights legislation and rulings moving forward. I also spend a lot of time keeping our issues in the public eye by speaking with the media. Flyers’ Rights also issues press releases regarding airline travel issues.

Last week, I appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, Inside Edition, NBC’s Today Show, and HLN’s Jane Velez Mitchell’s show. I also gave three newspaper interviews and four radio interviews, including one for NPR. Most of those activities involved discussion of the JetBlue flight attendant incident and its meaning, but some of those events were to discuss the DOT rules.

We Need Your Help
Recent administrative expenses have once again depleted the already bleak Flyers’ Rights treasury. Any donation you can make will help keep passenger rights legislation moving forward and our issues in the public eye.

Volunteer of the Month
Our organization functions on the contributions of our members. These contributions are given in time, treasure and talent. Some donors give in more than one way. We would like to thank three very special donors who have given much time, talent and treasure to our organization.

We are woefully behind in sharing our volunteers of the month. We will be including June, July and August in the next three consecutive e-mails. But in an attempt to catch you all up we’ll start with May.

May’s Volunteer of the Month: Kendall Wright.
Ken has been writing our bulk e-mails and tirelessly keeping up with all of our efforts so that you are in the know! Ken has many talents which are serving our organization well: patience, smarts, and a great sense of humor are just the beginning. Ken dove in as our Director of our Bulk E-mails, but has provided many other gifts to our organization and myself, including helping update our software and organizing our enormous e-mail overload. We cannot thank him enough. (And no, he didn’t write this part!)

About Ken:
Kendal Wright is doubly retired; first, from a 21-year aviation career in the US Air Force, and second, from a career in Information Technology as a senior consultant with Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq Computer Corporation, and the Hewlett-Packard Company. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Ken graduated from Colorado State University in 1968. He also holds an MBA from Central Michigan University. His Air Force career included flying C-141, C-130 and C-5 transports and several staff and management jobs. In his second career, he worked with Digital’s products and became a senior consultant in Microsoft operating systems and applications. His second retirement came in 2005, and he now devotes his time to his county’s Adult Literacy Program and to writing and editing for He lives in northern California and has two daughters and one grandchild.
Stay tuned…

“The War Is Not Over”
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