As a follow-up to our last post, looks like the FAA is going to take the lead on updating the rules with respect to the use of electronic devices in-flight.
Being as thorough as they are, they plan to bring together manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionic manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers, but, and this is a BIG but, they have yet to secure funding for the project.
CarryingOn therefore expects we’ll get a definitive ruling at some point in 2018, or a full year after Mariano Rivera is enshrined unanimously on the first ballot to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Actually, I’m thinking Mo will be introducing Derek Jeter to the Hall in 2019 before you’ll know for sure if you can turn on your iPad and watch the induction ceremony from 35,000 feet.
I read an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about the growing trend of in-flight incidents involving people not shutting off their electronic devices. There were quite a few nuggets of information in the article including:
– most passenger misconduct cases now deal with non compliance of electronic devices (no surprises there),
-there’s no firm scientific data that having a device on will cause an issue, just that there is the potential for it to cause an issue (again not surprising),
-In a study published in 2006, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who rode 37 airline flights with a radio-frequency measuring device found emissions from cell phones that could interfere with global-positioning satellite systems (mildly interesting, and while I’m sure the Carnegie Mellon guys are smart, there’s still nothing too urgent about this factoid),
-Crews have anecdotally reported numerous issues linked to computers or devices on board, such as erroneous warnings on collision-avoidance systems, heavy static on radio frequencies and false readings on instrument landing systems, according to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ok you now have my attention, but seeing the word anecdotal probably means I’m still not that worried about some guy sneaking in a few more emails after takeoff),
-RTCA Inc., the non-profit which advises the FAA on technical issues, said in a lengthy study in 2008 that emissions from transmitting personal electronic devices, or T-PEDS, could interfere with critical aircraft systems (the evidence seems to be mounting),
-In some instances where crews caught passengers talking on a phone or using a computer, they were able to end interference by shutting down the device. Turning it back on recreated the problem, suggesting a possible link (ok now I’m really paying attention, and by the way isn’t Nasa going away soon, and if so, who will check this stuff going forward?).
Given this compilation of information, CarryingOn has a couple of recommendation for its followers. First, let’s all shut our devices off when asked, period. Unless you’re giving someone instructions on how to disarm a nuclear weapon about to detonate, that phone call or email can probably wait don’t you think? Second, if you see somebody who’s not in compliance feel free to educate them about the dangers of their playing another round of “Words with Friends”, or posting those photos of themselves eating a burrito in the airport on Facebook. Perhaps something along the lines of “hey chief (or sister, if the offender is a woman), you know there’s data that shows that having that on can interfere with the collision-avoidance systems, so why don’t you do us all a favor and shut it down. Otherwise, I’ll ring my call button and you know how that will turn out.”
If they give you the dirty look and shut it down, it’s all good. You probably didn’t want to talk with anyone who just had an airport burrito anyway :-).
In case you haven’t seen it, I wrote an op-ed piece for Procurement.travel that might be of interest. As the title suggests, there seems to be a lot of things going on that could re-shape managed travel, so I figured I would put pen to paper and capture some of them for posterity (truth be told, I didn’t actually pick up a pen and write anything on paper, but you know what I mean, and I think it sounds better than saying I typed something into my computer).
Enjoy, and don’t say you weren’t warned.
……if for nothing else but the pure entertainment value they provide on what seems like a weekly basis.
Last week they were forced to defend the actions of a Las Vegas TSA crew that confiscated some cupcakes.
In their defense on the TSA Blog (who knew there was such a thing but I guess if I can have a blog why not the TSA), Blogger Bob (again I’m not making that up, he’s a real guy that is part of the TSA Blogger Team), defended the cupcake confiscation citing the 3-1-1 rule that limits the amount of liquids, gels or aerosols you can bring on a plane.
Ok, I felt Blogger Bob’s explanation stretched things a bit, and despite agreeing with the passenger in this case, who suggested the TSA used “terrible logic”, I guess a rule is a rule, and I was all set to let this TSA incident slide without comment. That was until I read that the TSA had issued an apology for strip searching a couple of granny’s at JFK.
In these cases all logic went right out the window when on separate occasions TSA agents at JFK asked two 85+ year old women to strip because they saw something unusual (turned out to be a defibrillator and a colostomy bag). Ok, now picture yourself as the TSA agent involved in the colostomy incident. Do you really think that agent is checking the next 88 year old woman after witnessing the first colostomy bag? CarryingOn says “NO WAY”! That woman is clearing the security area faster than you can say “get her out of here before anything starts leaking”.
CarryingOn thinks these stories taken together illustrate the problem with the current TSA procedures. Going forward, what prevents the 88 year old woman from taking explosive fluids in her colostomy bag, or a coordinated team of cupcake makers from taking only a portion of the needed ingredients thereby circumventing the 3-1-1 rule, and then coalescing while onboard to create an explosive from what appeared to be the ingredients of my all-time favorite cupcake, the Yankee Doodle?
Nothing, I would argue, other than the fact that an 88 year old women and the unassuming cupcake baker have no reason to. No one who fits their profile ever has, and nothing about them would suggest they are getting on that plane for any other reason than to get from point A to point B. Yet the TSA continues to confiscate stuff and breach personal barriers because of some rules intended to make us feel safer. Sounds kind of silly if you ask me, and it doesn’t make me feel any safer. How about you? Are you feeling safer? If not, go get yourself a Yankee Doodle and a glass of milk. You might not feel safer, but I guarantee you’ll at least feel better :).
After a 7+year run, I’ve decided to leave Rearden Commerce effective at year’s end.
It’s been a great ride….one that saw us grow from not even having a Travel application or a distributor of any kind, and when we could fit all our customers into my 1978 Cadillac, to where we stand today….over 7,000 customers, 50+ Travel Management Company Partners, processing over 14 Million transactions annually, and being a recognized, well respected brand, and leader in the space.
I was blessed to have the help of a fabulous team of co-workers, along with the support of our partners, customers, and my many industry contacts and friends, and I sincerely thank you all for helping with my success.
Never fear, CarryingOn will continue to carry on with me at the helm, backed by occasional guest bloggers—including some of those you’ve come to know and love on this blog. You might also start to hear from the Carrying On bloggers on Rearden Commerce’s Deem Blog. I want to thank my partner in almost crime Mike D, and the Rearden Marketing folks behind the scene: Brent Cohler, Alicia diVittorio, Yoni Meron, and Allison Jeannotte, for helping get it started and for giving me the inspiration to post on a regularly basis (some would call what Allison does nagging, but it’s all good and without her you might not see another post for months 🙂 ).
I’ll be taking a short break primarily to get my bowling game back in order, but will also be looking for my next opportunity and challenge, so I’m sure I’ll see you all out there very shortly.
Until then, I wish you all the best.
I read with interest a recent article suggesting that the European Union was about to start making foreign airlines pay for their carbon emissions. The program has been widely criticized by many including the Air Transport Association, and the International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airline across the globe, for many reasons as you will read in the piece.
Now putting the scientific discussion of the impact of carbon emissions aside for a moment, I don’t think anyone would disagree that air transportation is a significant driver of the world’s economy, and beyond the economic impact, has changed the world for the better. But for as much good as it does, air transportation is one of the most heavily regulated and taxed industries, and this new regulation is yet another example. EU officials admit as much and recognize that this program will ultimately cost consumers more (as much as $16US per long-haul flight, according to The New York Times), but they simply suggest the airline pass the cost of their emissions off on passengers, as they do with fuel price increases.
Now anytime CarryingOn hears the word “price increase” we get concerned, but the whole carbon emissions issue really came home for me this past week.
I was flying to MSP on Delta 2119, an 810am departure from LGA. The flight was full, the boarding typical for New York, with lots of crowding and a few “we haven’t called your group yet” boarding infractions, but was otherwise routine. Having logged a few miles in my day, I’m usually not that interested when the various in-flight announcement are made, not because they aren’t important, rather because I know most of them by heart, but on this particular day they caught my attention. Our MD88 aircraft was piloted by Captain William J. Botella, who during his normal announcements also made some very interesting comments that made me think of the EU carbon emission story I had read a few days earlier.
What Captain Botella said was the following:
The MD88 with 130 passengers, would use 2,730 gallons of fuel over the 1,200 mile trip between LGA and MSP.
By contrast, to carry 130 passengers in automobiles (assuming 2 per car, and a 20 Miles Per Gallon vehicle), would consume 3,900 gallons of fuel.
So by flying, we saved 1,170 gallons of fuel, not to mention that we all got there in 2½ hours versus the 20 hours it would have taken had we driven non-stop at 60 MPH (and that doesn’t include a few Waffle Houses stops we would inevitably make along the way). And the good Captain didn’t even talk about any cargo that might have been onboard, cargo that otherwise would have been on trucks that burn even more fuel.
His comments got me thinking that maybe this air transportation thing isn’t so bad for carbon emissions after all, particularly when you look at it as Captain Botella suggested. Sure, you can take the position that any carbon emission is bad (and again science aside), but does anybody really think we can stop emissions altogether? The answer is no, but in this case maybe there is a different perspective we should take. One that considers the alternative, because I don’t know about you but one thing I don’t think we need is another tax on our industry, so I’ll close by quoting the old Beatle classic Taxman, which if you don’t remember went like this:
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
… and will add my own new verse to help shed some light on this one as only CarryingOn can.
If you fly today, I’ll tax the ride.
If you will not pay, you’ll have to drive.
If you drive your car, the fumes will flow,
Even more than if you flew you know.
Feel free to sing along, and maybe we all karaoke it with our favorite Congressman.
I think most of our followers know I’ve been around for a while, but what you might not know is that I started my career in Travel over 32 years ago as a Reservation Sales Representative with United Airlines at a center they had in Rockleigh, NJ (at the whopping starting salary of $6.02 per hour :)). I made it through a grueling six week training class and graduated after demonstrating my competency in quickly recalling and using the hundreds of rudimentary Apollo CRS formats I learned that allowed me to find United’s flights, sell hotels and rental cars, and generally service UA’s customers.
I recall many things from that time, such as Marketing messages like, “fly to ‘our little corner of the world’, aka Hawaii”, or “First to 50” (UA was the first and only airline to fly to all 50 states at the time). I also learned my city codes, codes I have never forgotten 32 years later. Some of those codes made perfect sense and were easy like JFK (John F Kennedy Airport in NY), but others made no sense at all and required some little tricks to help recall them, such as New Orleans, where MSY makes perfect sense only when you consider how “messy” it gets after Mardi Gras :).
So why am I taking this walk down memory lane you ask? Well, curious guy that I am, I joined a webcast recently held by Travelport where they showed their new Smart Point technology. Promoted as being able, among other things, to have the ability to translate cryptic GDS commands across systems, it dawned on me that all the time I spent painstakingly learning all those format years ago is no longer necessary. As usual it got me thinking, in this case about how much easier the world is these days based on technology innovation, because it’s pretty easy to see how a TMC will benefit from this particularly when it comes to training their staff.
So kudos to Travelport because what I saw was pretty slick (and to be fair to my other GDS friends, I’m told they have developed similar stuff). Another example of technology innovation that makes life easier for someone, even for an old dog like me, just in case I want to put my headset back on and take a few res calls for old times’ sake.