Monday, June 15, 2015

Groggy and Grouchy in Goose Bay

This morning's top headline was "United Airlines flight Diverted to Happy Valley-Goose Bay". Apparently, a plane, bound to England from Chicago landed in Labrador because of mechanical problems.

I know that United Airlines has had its fair share of issues in the past. I for one greatly enjoyed the trio of songs from Dave Carroll, singer with "Sons of Maxwell" after airline employees broke his $3500 guitar. After almost a year of writing letters to United, trying to recoup $1200 in repair costs, Carroll's frustration led him to write the songs. The songs went viral and ended up costing United 180 million in lost stock revenue. Lesson learned?

More recently, singer Sarah Blackwood, seven months pregnant, member of the group, "Walk Off the Earth" was removed from a United Airlines flight because her young two year old son wouldn't stop crying. Although he was asleep by the time the aircraft was finished taxiing, they were ejected nonetheless.

Although there are probably other stories such as these, I started to wonder whether United has issues specifically with Canadian talent.

When I heard today's headline, my initial reaction was "Uh oh, they've done it again." Then I listened to the rest of the story.

The plane was having mechanical difficulties. Rather than starting across the ocean where there would be no hope of finding the craft or its passengers should it drop into the water, arrangements were made to accommodate everyone in Labrador. Obviously, United did not deliberately fly to Labrador to inconvenience the passengers. It was probably on the flight path and the nearest, safest place to land.

The passengers were accommodated as best as possible at an army base. There was no room for this many passengers at a nearby hotel where the crew stayed. Yes, the crew stayed in a hotel. Outrage! Again I say, are you people nuts? It was one night of minor discomfort and of course I'd want the pilots and anyone responsible for passenger safety to be as rested as possible the next day.

So the story goes on. "We were freezing," said one passenger.

Yes, I can see how people from tropical, sunny, Chicago where the flight originated would be freezing in Labrador where the temperature on Sunday was 25C dropping to 8C overnight. On the other hand, I believe they had access to their luggage. Have they not heard of layers? It's not as though they had to sleep on slabs of concrete. They had beds with blankets.

Finally, one person who was interviewed on t.v. news suggested, "We might have been shot." Seriously? Again I say, "You're in Newfoundland, not Chicago"! On the other hand, perhaps they feared the rest of the passengers.

So what's the problem? Instead of viewing this experience as an adventure, instead of being thankful that they were safe, people whined and complained. If this was the biggest discomfort of their lives, they are very fortunate folks indeed.

Newfoundland was certainly appreciated during September 11, when 38 flights were diverted there for security reasons. Passengers were thankful for being safe and cared for however possible back then. It is said that those landings changed passsengers' lives and the lives of those who helped them forever.

Too many people lack common sense. Too many people have memories that are short. Interesting isn't it how flight diversions can be viewed as blessings under different circumstances?  

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