Sunday, August 3, 2008

Great Feature About Terminal Stress

The Miami Herold recently published a great feature article about "Terminal Stress" and the problems related to the airlines and airports for today's travelers. The full story can be read at but here are some of the highlights.

When a recent flight from Miami to Cali, Colombia, was delayed five hours on the ground, the bathrooms were picked clean of water, soap, toilet paper and paper towels, potentially causing a health risk, a doctor on board said.

On another flight, a Fort Lauderdale-bound plane lingered on the runway in Newark, N.J., for so long that passengers rebelled and began using their cellphones and leaving their seats, defying the captain's warnings.

''People are going beyond their limit, their capacity to handle all the stress that is involved in flying, and they have become so reliant on flying at the same time that they are very angry,'' said Kate Hanni, executive director of the California-based Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of

Rights. ``They know what it used to be like, and they absolutely don't know what is going to happen next.''

Hanni said her hot line receives about 400 calls each day from passengers who are fed up with delays, getting bumped from flights or having issues related to baggage.

Adrianne Bez, who flew from Miami to San Juan to Caracas on American Airlines in mid-June, checked two pieces of luggage: a black bag and a carton holding a new $3,000 computer.

The black bag arrived; the computer is still missing. And though Bez filed a claim immediately, the airline has told her it needs 10 weeks to locate the item. She calls every week to get an update.

''I don't feel that they care,'' said Bez, 31, who lives in Miami. ``They just want to give you 10 weeks so you forget about the situation.''

John P. Quinn, 57, an infectious-disease doctor onboard the flight from Miami to Cali that was delayed five hours, echoes that sentiment.

First, his American Airlines plane had to return to the gate for two maintenance checks and to reboot the aircraft's computer. Then, the mechanics took so long that the crew ran over its allotted time and another crew had to be brought in. All the while, the passengers had to remain onboard in a hot plane, he said.

''The fact that we sat in Miami with 200 people, using the toilet for five hours, then we flew for 3 ½ hours, that is like a flight to Tokyo,'' he said. ``We ran out of sanitary supplies and created a danger for the passengers, in my opinion.''

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