Friday, September 23, 2005

Court rules no right to tell TSA screeners they live in a bubble
You can wear a jacket with "Fuck The Draft" on the back into a court of law, but, according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, don't even think about swearing loudly at any TSA officials who make you miss your plane.

Today, the Court ruled that TSA can arrest and fine you for swearing loudly and belligerently while you're being searched at the airport security check because it "interferes" with the TSA's job. The court rejected any First Amendment right to free speech, claiming that while asking a "good-faith question" with profanity in it or even "grumbling" with profanity would not be enough for a fine, the conduct here somehow constituted more.

Specifically, the court ruled:

Petitioner’s conduct in this case, however, cannot be characterized as simply asking a good-faith question while using profanities or as grumbling about not being allowed to walk back through the metal detector or the delay in being hand-wanded.

Rather, Petitioner interfered with the screener in the performance of his duties by actively engaging the screener with loud and belligerent conduct, and, after being asked not to use profanities, by exclaiming that the screener should be in a different line of work, that he should live in a bubble, and that it was a free country in which he could say what he pleased.

Due to the escalating loud and belligerent nature of Petitioner’s conduct directed at the screener, the screener needed to shut down his line and call over his supervisor. Thus, Petitioner’s conduct interfered with the screener’s duty to both thoroughly screen passengers and to do so in an efficient manner.

Is this really a justifiable difference? So its okay to ask the TSA "Why the fuck do I have to take my shoes off?" but not to tell them they live in a bubble or that this is a free country?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Passengers Watch Live Coverage Of Plane's Emergency

The airliner circled Southern California for hours, crippled by a faulty landing gear, while inside its cabin 140 passengers watched their own life-and-death drama unfolding on live television. While satellite TV sets aboard JetBlue Flight 292 were tuned to news broadcasts, some passengers cried. Others tried to telephone relatives and one woman sent a text message to her mother in Florida attempting to comfort her in the event she died. "It was very weird.

It would've been so much calmer without" the televisions, Pia Varma of Los Angeles said after the plane skidded to a safe landing Wednesday evening in a stream of sparks and burning tires. No one was hurt. Varma, 23, and other passengers said the plane's monitors carried live DirectTV broadcasts on the plane's problems until just a few minutes before landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

The landing gear trouble -- the front wheels were stuck in a sideways position -- was discovered almost immediately after the plane departed Bob Hope Airport in Burbank at 3:17 p.m., en route to New York City. The Airbus A320 circled the Long Beach Airport, about 30 miles south of Burbank, before being cleared to land at Los Angeles. It stayed in flight for three hours to burn off fuel, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker.

Zachary Mastoon of New York said it was "surreal" to watch his plane's fate being discussed on live TV while it was in the air. At one point, he said, he tried to call his family, but his cell phone call wouldn't go through. "I wanted to call my dad to tell him I'm alive so far," the 27-year-old musician said. The pilot finally brought the plane down, back wheels first. As he slowly lowered the nose gear, the stuck wheels erupted in smoke and flames, which quickly burned out. "At the end it was the worst because you didn't know if it was going to work, if we would catch fire. It was very scary. Grown men were crying," said Diane Hamilton, 32, a television graphics specialist.

As the plane was about to touch the ground, Hamilton said crew members ordered people to assume a crash position, putting their heads between their knees. "They would yell, "Brace! Brace! Brace!"' she said. "I thought this would be it." Lisa Schiff, 34, of Los Angeles sent a text message to her mother in Miami that said: "I love you. Don't worry about me. If something happens, know that I am watching you and Daddy and (her brother) David."

Emergency crews from across the area met the plane on the runway. Spectators gathered on buildings and stood on parked cars to see firsthand as passengers walked down a stairway onto the tarmac with their carry-on luggage. Some passengers shook hands with emergency workers and waved to cameras. One firefighter carrying a boy across the tarmac put his helmet on the child's head. "We all cheered, I was bawling, I cried so much," said Christine Lund, 25, who was traveling with her cat. She and the other passengers were taken by bus from the tarmac to the airport's international terminal. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who spoke with the pilot, identified him as Scott Burke and praised him for the calm he showed during the flight. "He joked that he was sorry he put the plane down 6 inches off the center line," Villaraigosa said. Ann Decrozals, an Airbus spokeswoman at the aircraft manufacturer's headquarters in France, said the A320 was designed to be able to land with front wheel problems.

JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said the airline was investigating the incident with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board. She declined to identify the pilot and first officer. About 57 of the passengers were placed on another flight, which arrived at New York's Kennedy Airport at 6:05 a.m. EDT Thursday, said airline spokeswoman Sharon Jones. Others were put up in Los Angeles area hotels and given reservations for Thursday flights. Still others simply returned home.

Among the latter group was Varma, who was greeted by her parents at the terminal. "It started out just being a ghastly birthday, but now it's just fabulous, " said her father, Anil, who turned 51 on Wednesday. JetBlue, based in New York, is a five-year-old low-fare airline with 286 flights a day and destinations in 13 states and the Caribbean. It operates a fleet of 81 A320s.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Delta Airlines

The DELTA AIRLINES Commercial you will never forget...
Click HERE

Friday, September 16, 2005

Student Arrested After Pilot Uniform Found

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A university student from Egypt was ordered held without bond after prosecutors said they found a pilot's uniform, chart of Memphis International Airport and a DVD titled "How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act" in his apartment.

The FBI is investigating whether Mahmoud Maawad, 29, had any connection to terrorists. He is awaiting trial on charges of wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.
Maawad, who is in the United States illegally, told the judge during a hearing Thursday that he is studying science and economics at the University of Memphis.

"My school is everything. I stay in this country for seven years; I stay for the school," he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker said Thursday that the airport-related items were found during a Sept. 9 search.

"The specific facts and circumstances are scary," Parker said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Thomas Anderson ruled that Maawad be held without bond.
"It is hard for the court to understand why he has a large concentration of those (aviation) items, and nothing else to indicate Mr. Maawad plans to stay in the community," Anderson said.

Maawad had ordered $3,000 in aviation materials, including DVDs titled "Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings," "Airplane Talk," "Mental Math for Pilots" and "Mastering GPS Flying," FBI agent Thad Gulczynski testified.

The company reported Maawad to authorities when he didn't pay for $2,500 of merchandise it had delivered, Gulczynski said.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Northwest and Delta Are Said to Be Preparing for Bankruptcy

Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines are both preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as Wednesday, people close to both companies said today.

Northwest and Delta are each finishing the details of their bankruptcy cases, including the financing that they will require to operate under bankruptcy protection, these people said. That could cause delays, but the fundamental work of preparing each bankruptcy case is complete, they said.

A spokesman for Northwest, the nation's fifth-biggest airline, said today that the company had made no decision on a Chapter 11 filing. Likewise, a spokeswoman for Delta, which is the third-biggest carrier, said no decision had been made.

The Air Line Pilots Association at Northwest said tonight that the airline's board was set to meet on Wednesday to consider whether to file for bankruptcy protection. Northwest's board would have to approve a Chapter 11 filing. Delta's board met last Friday.

Northwest said in a regulatory filing today that it was required to make a $65 million pension payment on Thursday, which it could only miss if it were operating under bankruptcy protection.

Northwest and other companies had asked the Treasury Department to let them skip their September pension payments, citing the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the nation's economy. But in a statement today, the department said it had decided against the move, saying that it was more appropriate to limit relief to companies in the Gulf Coast region.

Shares of Northwest lost more than half their value today on word of its possible bankruptcy filing, dropping $1.74 to close at $1.57 in Nasdaq trading. Delta shares also fell, declining 7 cents, or 8.2 percent, to 78 cents on the New York Stock Exchange.

Both airlines would file for Chapter 11 protection in United States Bankruptcy Court in New York. Their cases would be assigned to different judges, however. If the filings are made on Wednesday, the first hearings would be on Thursday.

If Northwest and Delta both file, that would mean four of the industry's seven biggest airlines were operating under bankruptcy protection, reflecting the deep competitive issues that have battered the airlines since the year 2000.

United, which is the second-biggest airline behind American, has been operating under Chapter 11 protection since December 2002. Last week, it submitted a reorganization plan and said it hoped to emerge from court protection early next year.

Meanwhile, US Airways, which sought bankruptcy protection last year for the second time in two years, expects to emerge from court protection this fall, when it plans to merge with America West. Those airlines will operate under the US Airways name.

That would leave American, the industry's biggest carrier, Continental, the fourth largest, and Southwest, the sixth largest, as the major airlines operating outside bankruptcy protection.
While a bankruptcy filing by Delta had been expected to come this week, a filing by Northwest had been thought to be several weeks away.

But Northwest and all the large domestic airlines have been hit hard by the spike in jet fuel prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which interrupted production at refineries on the gulf coast.

Even before the storm, however, airlines were already paying about 50 percent more for jet fuel this year than in 2004.

Neither Northwest nor Delta have hedging contracts that would have allowed them to lock in the price of fuel, meaning they must immediately cover price increases in cash whenever they occur.
Given that, and with its cash draining away in recent weeks, Northwest officials apparently decided to file quickly rather than wait any longer, people briefed on the airline's strategy said today.

Northwest's court filing would coincide with a strike by its mechanics union, which began Aug. 20.

The airline has remained in operation using supervisors, contractors and 1,200 replacement workers as substitutes for striking members of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association.
Workers struck the airline over its demand for $176 million in wage and benefit cuts, part of $1.1 billion in concessions that it is seeking from its unions.

Over the weekend, however, Northwest increased its demand to $203 million and said it now would need $1.4 billion in total cuts. And the airline said it could offer only about 1,080 jobs to the mechanics union, which represented 4,430 mechanics, cleaners and other workers at the airline before the strike.

The mechanics union walked away from bargaining, saying the airline's demands were too severe. The airline said it planned to give permanent jobs to some of the replacement workers starting today.

Once companies seek bankruptcy protection, they can ask a bankruptcy court judge to set aside contracts and impose lower terms, unless agreements can be reached. Northwest is likely to seek the same $1.4 billion in cuts once its bankruptcy proceedings begin, the people briefed on the airline's strategy said today.

Northwest, based in Eagan, Minn., has major hubs in Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis and is one of the biggest domestic carriers operating international routes.

It is one of only two airlines with extensive routes throughout Asia. The other is United. Northwest operates in a code-sharing agreement with KLM, the Dutch airline, and it also shares flight designations with Delta and Continental.

Meanwhile, Delta asked its pilots union on Monday for a second round of wage and benefit cuts, on top of $1 billion in cuts granted last year, when the airline was close to a bankruptcy filing.

Neither Delta nor the Air Line Pilots Association specified how much the airline was seeking. The pilots union said its leaders would decide next Monday whether to negotiate with the airline. By then, however, Delta may already have sought bankruptcy protection, and it could ask a judge to impose the cuts it requested Monday from the pilots.