Monday, August 30, 2010

Today's Cabin Attendant Woes

Provenance Unknown
Steven Slater brought it to the forefront with a spectacular stunt.
But we've all known for a long time that the once envied and perceived glamorous job of cabin attendants has fallen in esteem - both self and otherwise. Joe Sharkey of the New York Times has written eloquently about the situation in his piece A Flight Attendants Lot is not a Happy One.
Now Joe comes up with another story, in which he lays much of the blame for incivility in aircraft squarely on the airlines. He says it is because of their new profit center which generates fees for checking baggage. And what a profit center it is. In his piece Carry-Ons and Courtesy need to Co-exist Joe says the airlines generated $2.7 billion in fees for checking baggage last year. This has caused people to bring more and ever-larger bags on board to avoid the fees, and trying to stuff them in overhead bins not designed to carry them. Passengers squabble among themselves over overhead space and cabin attendants often find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to settle disputes, which can (Steven Slater comes to mind) cause personal injury. Meanwhile the airlines are pointedly looking the other way, letting what happens, happen.
Back in the day, overhead racks were used mainly for blankets, pillows, passenger's hats, souvenirs from vacations, make-up cases and an occasional cheesecake. (I speak from experience on the cheesecake item. I would regularly bring them home from New York for my Mom's girlfriend luncheons. She would tell them, with a twinkle in her eye, "I had this flown in from New York just yesterday."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

D.B. Cooper? . . . Again?

Police sketch of D.B. Cooper/Getty Images
The legend lives on ...
In 1971 a man known as Dan Cooper, later misidentified as D.B. Cooper, successfully hijacked NWA Flight 305, a Boeing 727 bound from Portland to Seattle, and parachuted out of the jet into the wilderness of Southwest Washington with $200,000 in cash. In the nearly 40 years since, D.B. Cooper has become a legend and multiple theories explored, all coming to dead-ends.
Imagine my surprise yesterday, when I heard from Jim Anderson, a retired NWA'er currently living in Arkansas, that the latest belief as to the identity of D.B. Cooper is that he was non-other than a NWA flight attendant/purser named Kenny Christiansen.
This news had to come to me this week, right? The same week that Steven Slater "pulled the chute" and slid to fame and notoriety clutching (was it one?. . . or two?) beers.
Anyway, Jim Anderson had read a book published in May of this year, "Into the Blast: The True Story of D.B. Cooper," by Robert Blevins and Skipp Porteous. Jim picked up on a technical error in the book relative to what the NWA co-pilot was reported to have said in an interview, and contacted Robert Blevins to alert him to the error.
Since then, Jim has learned that The History Channel is planning to do a show about the book and they are looking for any additional information available about Kenny Christiansen. He has received calls and E-mails from both authors and from The History Channel.
Jim called me, wondering if I knew anything about Kenny Christiansen. "Not until now," I replied. He asked if I would contact other folks associated with the NWA History Centre with the question and I agreed.
In the meantime, I'm busy reading the book and wondering how all of this will play out . . .
I'm looking for more information about The History Channel show, which is supposed to air in about two weeks. If I come up with anything you can be sure I'll let y'all know about it.
Signing off as A.B. Kerr, sans $200K . . .
P.S. Whatever happened to Steven Slater?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Steven Slater "Pulled the Chute" he became the instant idol of Flight Attendants - Past and Present

Didn't we all have fantasies about what we would do on our last trip? I remember a pilot saying his fantasy was to emerge from the flight deck wearing a parachute and walk the length of the cabin! Wish I remembered his name.
Back in the day (50 years ago) most passengers were very well behaved. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that female passengers wore dresses, heels, hats and gloves, and men wore three-piece suits. There wasn't a muscle shirt to be seen. Flip-flops were only used in the shower. The center aisle was wide enough for two adults to pass one another without touching. Full dinners were served - even on coach flights. The Captain pointed out points of interest along the way and even invited the passengers up to the flight deck to say hello!
As for the "last straw" that Steven Slater experienced, I never could have reached that point. I had to resign on the occasion of my marriage or my 32nd birthday, whichever came first. The average tenure of a stewardess was 18 months. I was way over the average at 3 years, 8 months. That all changed in the 1960s.
Bob Reardon - What's your secret? Bob has been a flight attendant/Purser for 56 years, first with Northwest and now with Delta. And he hasn't "pulled the chute" yet!
If you ever do, Bob - don't forget the beer on your way down!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Northwest Airlines B-377 Stratocruiser offers passengers live organ music aboard Ship 709 in 1959.
Just received this U-Tube gem from Alan Ashton of the U.K. He profiles famous organists on his website Gram-R-Fone. Just click on Make a Selection on the home page, then click on the Leonard Leigh profile. Listen to the music and enjoy the story of NWA's foray into live entertainment at 20,000 ft.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who Is This Young Lady?

Photo courtesy of Don Falenczykowski
A rose between two thorns you say? Please help identify the young woman between Cas Falenczykowski and Ed La Parle, Northwest Airlines pilots. While you are at it, can you tell me what airplane is in the background? What airport they are at? How about a year?
Questions, questions, questions. . .