Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Need Your Help (Updated 16:39 Zulu time)

In 1986, a grassroots effort to ban smoking on flights was initiated and the politicians listened. Barely 2 years later, smoking on flights was a thing of the past. This was done to protect the health and safety of the other passengers aboard the aircraft. Was it rough? Yes, I am a smoker and it was tough, but it didn't stop me...or the other millions of fliers from boarding aircraft and taking to the skies.

In the last week, there have been two incidents where a drunk passenger has attempted to open an aircraft door,
at altitude. As flying passengers we cannot tolerate this! Now is the time for us to protect ourselves against a threat to our safety, the intoxicated passenger. First, some background:

For an aircraft design to be certified, it must be demonstrated that all passengers and crew can be evacuated in less than 90 seconds. Here is a video clip of the certification for the Airbus A380.

As you can see, it happens quickly, efficiently and safely. All of the passengers were sober, alert and ready to get out of that airplane. I would like to see the same certification done with passengers who have been drinking for, say...4 hours (a typical cross-country flight).

Now, ask yourself, "What if there were 1...or 2...or 10 people who had a drink (or 2...or 3...or...) before the emergency?" Would they be reacting quickly? Efficiently? Safely? What if you and your children were behind this individual? Or, maybe your Mom and Dad are flying out to meet their new grandchild? You or they may only have seconds to live. The intoxicated passenger stumbles, they get confused, they block your way. You and your children are now all dead...your Mother and Father are dead. Everyone behind that intoxicated passenger is dead.

Most aviation safety experts say that the difference between life or death is sometimes measured in mere seconds. Do you want those seconds wasted because someone wants to drink? Drinking is a LUXURY. There is no requirement for drinking on flights or in airports.

So, what can we, as citizens and passengers do? Well, I'm glad you asked. Get your pen and paper ready. Got them? OK, take down this information:

Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee
Majority: 202-224-9000
Minority: 202-224-5184

Call one of these numbers and demand that alcohol be banned from flights and from airports. A list of the members of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation can be found here. Call or write!

If smoking can be banned from flights by average citizens rallying against it, then why can't we rally against something that threatens our safety every time we fly? Make your voice heard and make a difference.

Update: I got a call from Rich Swayze (202-224-9000) and he says that we need to contact our local legislators and demand that they move to have alcohol banned from flights. The FAA wants it banned, but until they get requests from outside, they really can't do much. He still wants a grass roots effort and he wants to be a part of it.

He suggested a possibility that the Coalition for a Passenger Bill of Rights group may also be able to help to get this going. Rich is e-mailing me the information and I'll post it, here, as soon as it is received. We really can do this!

I just checked my e-mail, and here is what Rich sent:


Below is the contact information for the Coalition for an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights I spoke to you about over the phone. Kate has been a very effective spokesperson for passengers, and may be able to help you.

The Committee takes safety very seriously and shares your concerns about passengers that consume too much alcohol.

Please feel free to contact us in the future as you try to garner more support for this issue.

Rich Swayze
Professional Staff Member
Senate Aviation Subcommittee

Kate Hanni
Director & Spokesman
Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights
(707) 337-0328

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