Most of the time the local CraigsList Rants and Raves board is drivel from extreme left-leaning wingnuts who think Bush should be impeached. Occassionaly there something really insightful and well-written there. Of course, those few entries are casting pearls before swine considering the apparent readership, but I thought *this* posting was worth passing along. It’s from someone who apparently is a pilot and has some insight into the current local news stories about Alaska Airlines and their outsourcing pains with Menzies Aviation (a huge outsource vendor). Since this is a “family and professional-oriented” blog I have edited out some of the stronger language – but you’ll get the idea.

For those of you who don’t know last year Alaska Airlines fired their entire (union based) luggage-handling group and replaced them with a well-established outside company – Menzies Aviation. There have been a couple of high-profile problems since then.

Alaska Airlines jet landed normally despite hole in fuselage

Now, I’m not trying to downplay this. This was a SERIOUS incident and someone’s head needed to roll for it. But since then the local (highly-union-biased) press has been up in arms about Menzies even if one of the workers so much as sneezes. Note that Menzies is an non-union shop. I personally think that the local media is participating – to some degree – in a smear campaign of non-union labor. For example, the local news mentioned that for 9 months out of 2004 to 2005 there were a HUGE increase in the number of safefy problems at Alaska air. Up from 13 in 2004 to over 50 in 2005. What the news FAILED to mention was that during that 9 month period the the UNION WORKERS were the ones committing the violations. Actually.. they were kicking out panels and vandalizing the planes because they new they were going to lose their contract. Talk about jackboot thugs….

I thought the following – posted to the Seattle section of Craigslist – was very insightful. It also shut a HUGE number of whiners up after it was posted.

You AAL bashers are a bunch of Chicken Little whiners. Obviously you know nothing about airplanes, aviation or airlines. You just sit there and bitch about what you perceive is an airline not giving a shit and at the same time about ticket prices being too high to take junior to Disneyland.

Most of the US airlines are in dire straights. I remember a statistic in the mid 1990’s that said US airlines have LOST more money in the previous 5 years than they had EVER MADE. Think about that. The first scheduled service started in 1918.

This came about through a series of bad decisions made by airlines, unions and government over the last 20 years. Now legacy airlines that have been straddled with debts stemming from Deregulation, Fare Wars, Frequent Flyer Programs, Union entitlement and an overly demanding passenger base are faced with competitors like JetBlue that have a minimal staff since most of their operations are automated and operate Union free.

So what can an airline do? Well they have to cut costs. American removed one olive from every salad to save a couple million dollars annually. Alaska saw an opportunity to save $13+ million with contracting Menzies and eliminating a problematic Union in baggage handling. The answer in the early 21st Century is streamlining and getting rid of the Unions. Those that don’t will go under. JetBlue, EasyJet and Southwest will see to that.

Now, Menzies is a successful company that serves over 500 airlines worldwide. They have been at Alaska for 7 or 8 months now. Are the recent series of events an indication that Alaska and Menzies are falling apart? No.

$500,000 Fine for 2 Exit lights
The FAA levies fines against airlines all the time. This one was stupid and avoidable, and the maintenance guy in charge should be fired. But, since he’s a highly skilled Union worker, no can do. Would it have killed anyone? Highly unlikely. Just an example of a stupid regulation.

Baggage Ramp Airplane Collision
The biggest issue here was the moron that didn’t report that he made contact with the airplane. He broke Menzies’ rules, Alaska’s rules, SeaTac’s rules and FAA Regulations. Is it Alaska’s or Menzies’ fault? No, it’s that putz’s fault. He should be fired and charged Federally with busting regs. He screwed up, he hit the plane. He should have stood up like a man and said something. Instead, like a fool, he tried to hide it. And like the sheeple you are, you focus on the local media exagerated headlines on how 200+ people almost died instead of how the training and skill of the flight crew handled a small emergency professionally and safely.

Dog Tossing
This is not a safety of flight issue. This is a newer common Seattle problem. Total lack of basic customer service and not considering the impact of your actions on anyone else. The moron didn’t break any rules. He was just stupid and over zealous in getting the dog on board. Should he have done it that way? No. He didn’t use his head. He’s just used what is now the typical Seattle SNAFU customer service. The woman ended up taking both her dogs to Florida on a later flight and Alaska paid for her rental van. So she came out alright.

These last two incidents are more indicative of a piss poor pool of people to hire from here in Seattle than from company mismanagement. In both cases it was a breakdown of common sense.

Airplane Tug Incident
This is something that happens ALL the time. And what I find is interesting, less than a week after this incident; I saw the same thing on the homepage of that it happened to a United airplane in Spokane, Boise or someplace else East of the Mountains. Are you twerps up in arms over that? Nope, and that was a highly skilled Union employee.

Today’s Gear Door Incident
Now here we go. Here’s one of the highly skilled Union employees of Alaska fucking up again. That’s what checklists are for, stupid! Now the big difference here is that, unlike the Menzies employee, this yahoo can’t be fired cause he’s Union. Similar screw up, but he’ll continue to work on your planes. What’s worse? But once again headline read ‘Disaster at Alaska’ as opposed to focusing on the abilities of the flight crews to handle minor emergencies. And you sheeple eat it up.

All of the events are a result of people messing up. Not a company that doesn’t care. Just individuals that don’t give a sh*t about quality or customer service.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if the service personnel are Union or not or airline employees or contractors. All demographics have screwups. Since Alaska is local to Seattle, the media is holding them under a microscope. If the CEO has a zit on his backside, it’ll be front page news. But none of the above is out of the ordinary for airlines these days.

Legacy airlines have a long road ahead of them. Streamline or die. Cut expenditures or die. But remember, US airlines are among the safest in the World. If you only knew what happens to airplanes in Second and Third World countries…

So quit yer bitching and go on vacation.

Food for thought, all of the below pics were caused by ground crew. So Alaska is just par for the course

Oh, and no, I don’t work for AAL or any other airline. In fact I bought my own plane for business and pleasure travel so I can avoid the airlines. Why? Because of all you fat, smelly and whiny passengers. And the TSA, they suck too.