Archive for safety

Keeping Me Safe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 12 December, 2009 by Thomas

Obviously, since 9/11 our nation’s airports have been on high alert.  There are so many rules and regulations saying what a passenger can and cannot take through an airport security checkpoint, but we can’t know everything.  Sometimes there are exemptions to these rules, but who really knows what’s getting through those X-ray machines?  I once read a story about a guy who was making fake boarding passes and using fake IDs to get past TSA – those entrusted with keeping our planes, trains, and automobiles safe – just to make the point that it’s not security, but security theater that we experience when traveling.  When a TSA agent asked him why he had two full-sized contact lens solution bottles in his bag he responded with, “Two eyes,” and he was allowed to proceed with both.  Had he been planning shenanigans then he would have had a free pass.

Part of TSA’s job is to notice any suspicious behavior.  I imagine they are trained to do this, though how extensive the training is I cannot say.  Noticing suspicious behavior is also part of my job, only to a lesser degree.  My training is presumably not nearly as extensive as TSA’s, but I do know that in order to notice suspicious behavior one must look at people.  I don’t know how many times I’ve walked up to a security checkpoint in uniform only to have an “agent” ask me if I have liquids in my bags or ask me to take my shoes off before passing through the metal detector.  I know that if they cannot discern that I am a uniformed crewmember (and therefore exempt from liquid/shoe rules), that they are not on the lookout for anything suspicious.

I also had a couple friends tell me about the time a TSA agent let a man through the security checkpoint when the name on his ID did not match the name on his boarding pass.  This was not a simple misspelling or omission of a middle initial, but two different names . . . like Terry Tate and Ndamukong Suh (who, by the way, should win the Heisman Trophy).  This security breach occurred in Dulles – a very major airport.  Thanks for keeping me safe, TSA.  I hate you.

Breaking Down Barriers…or Doors – Part Deux

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 6 December, 2009 by Thomas

6:30pm – Currently I’m in GNV sitting on a broken airplane. We got down here with no problems, but now things seemed to have spiraled out of control.

As soon as we open the door to deplane the gate agent asks when I’ll be ready to board again because apparently they want to get these people out of here. We only have 19 passengers so I asked for five minutes.

Everyone gets on and gets settled, but we’re still not even fueled, and the fueler is busy with another plane, so we wait. ATC has given us a window of 10-12 minutes past the hour to get off the ground before we have to wait on another slot; the flight deck clock says nine minutes past and we’ve not even been fueled.  I’m not too sure we’ll make that window.

After a few minutes we have our 6,500 pounds of Jet A fuel and the captain tells me I’m clear to close the door. I press the door assist button, and wouldn’t you know the thing doesn’t work. I’ve been in this spot before, but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant, not at all. In addition to a main cabin door that won’t close, the galley service door is showing as open. That problem is identified as a circuit breaker that keeps popping out.

The captain gets on the horn with maintenance, and they end up sending a contract maintenance guy out. He takes 45 minutes to arrive. Right now, I’m just drinking hot chocolate hoping we cancel, because a pilot that I met earlier today will be down here to overnight, and she’s got great freckles and pretty eyes.

I’ll update as news breaks.

7:20pm – Update: The guy came, and it was a quick fix. Something about a wire in the cargo hold that “popped” and deactivated all the door sensors causing them to go inop.  At least we didn’t have some aircraft safety guru trying to tell me we failed our safety inspection this time.

We were supposed to overnight in CHA, but now we spend the night in CLT when we get back. That’s fine with me. I don’t get to see the cute pilot, but I do get to drink cheap beer and get paid for a flight I’ll never work. Rum all ’round!

Breaking Down Barriers…or Doors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 20 November, 2009 by Thomas

Because of a delayed inbound flight, you get a new post. Huzzah!

A few nights ago I was boarding a plane to TLH. It appeared to me that we had a good group of passengers on board. We weren’t full, we were on time, and 75% of the crew was pretty rockin’. As I’m closing the main cabin door a ramper comes scampering up waving his hand to get me to stop. The door is roughly halfway closed, but I release the Door Assist button, dropping the 200 pound door back to the ground. As soon as I release the button, though, I see that the aforementioned ramper is standing under the door . . . kind of like an idiot would do. Not wanting to hit him in the head I quickly press the Door Assist button so he can move himself out of harm’s way before letting the door drop again. He tells me that the captain needs to add three more checked bags into the fancy computer. We do that, the captain tells me we are once again clear to close the door, and I hit the button for the third time.

Only this time nothing happens. The door just sits there on the ground like a jerk. After a few minutes maintenance comes out to the plane and diagnoses the problem as a faulty motor. We are given the option to swap aircraft or have them repair it. Thankfully, our large-nostriled captain wants to just repair the motor and that’s what happens. It would have been a royal pain in the butt to find a plane, deplane everyone, transfer bags, cater the plane, do our checks, and board them up again. Plus, when passengers have to get off a plane before it even leaves its originating point they seem to get a lot crankier. Crisis averted. Thanks, Cap!

While we’re waiting for the maintenance guys to finish some brainiac in the back asks the other flight attendant if our planes have safety inspections. Obviously she tells him they do, and he proceeds to tell her that this particular plane has failed, like he knows anything about aircraft maintenance or safety. No way. No way! I wonder what he says and how he feels when he has to fill his gas tank or change a tire on his ’94 Ford Escort. What a jabroney!

We get the thing fixed and make it to TLH only about 30 minutes late because, yeah, we’re that good. Most of the passengers were fine and didn’t mind the slight delay.

And as it turns out I had to do a line check on someone down to TLH a few days later, and one of the same guys was on the plane going back to CLT. Thankfully, it wasn’t Mr. Aircraft-Door-Safety-Man. Getting to the point – this whole thing could have been avoided if the ramper had thought to himself that it might not be such a bright idea to stand under a rather large aircraft door as it falls open, or maybe even just tell the flight crew over the radio to add more checked bags. But at least he wasn’t hurt and I didn’t get in trouble for “breaking” the motor.