Non-union baggage handlers bang up another Alaska jet

According to an inside source, another Alaska Airlines jetliner was hit and damaged by ground crews today at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Unlike last week’s hit-and-run that resulted in a nearly catastrophic decompression at 26,000 feet, this incident was properly reported and the aircraft was taken out of service. Airline officials have yet to respond to my inquiries.

Well… um… I suppose it’s good news that the low-bid, contractors Alaska hired to replace their union baggage handlers last May actually reported this incident. Now if only Alaska can teach them to stop driving into their airplanes.

UPDATE:
Well, I suppose I owe the low-bid contractors an apology. They didn’t drive the baggage truck into the airplane. They towed the airplane into the baggage truck.

It was the second such incident by an employee of Menzies Aviation in 10 days. Passengers were boarding the 737-700 about 11:30 a.m. for Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport when the plane was moved by a tow tug, causing the jet to strike a baggage loading machine and the open passenger door to hit the jetway.

A spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines said the tow truck, operated by an employee of Menzies Aviation, accidentally pulled the plane forward about three feet. That means the tow truck would have been put into reverse.

Well, that makes me feel much better. Next time I fly Alaska I’ll just have to remember to quickly leap from the jetway into the airplane, just in case they move the plane as I’m trying to board it.

Comments

  1. 1

    fire_one spews:

    What I would like to see is: Fire all the Secret Service agents and replace them with minimum wage scabs….

  2. 2

    Larry the Urbanite spews:

    Any idea what a HUGE deal this is? Damaged aircraft are not only very costly for airlines, they are huge paperwork headaches (and rightfully so). The airline has to fix the plane than prove to an array of federal state local and private entities that they fixed it fully, no structural damage, no damage to controls, no cabin pressure issues, etc, etc. All that time, the plane, the one asset that they can’t do without, is sittin’ on theground.

    Hmmm, getting rid of the union workers and hiring contract employees is suddenly looking like a very bad bargain.

  3. 3

    Steve spews:

    I personally am boycotting Alaska until they get rid of these cheap-ass workers and re-hire the fired union ones.

  4. 4

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    What’s the latest on the Senator Dimbulb scandal? Has she resigned yet? Has she given back the money? Is the investigation started? The Smartest Woman In The World gave back the money she got. You’d think “No Rocket Scientist” Murray would get a clue…

  5. 5

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    Goldy’s post here is a perfect example of why moonbats can not in charge of anything important. Blogging random kooky shit is OK because nobody gets hurt. But anything that involves complex systems is well beyond the range of moonbats.

    Collisions between ground equipment and airplanes are not uncommon. This incident proves the system works. It would be best of course to make perfect systems where this can’t happen, but the fact of the matter is that stuff like this happens all the time. It’s a rare exception when there’s a problem like last week’s, but even in that case the airplane and the crew responded perfectly and the airplane landed without incident.

  6. 6

    Drew4PeaceNow spews:

    Oh yes, the free market system sure is working well and the R’s have it all figured out when it comes to deregulation…NOT!
    Air travel is just too important to our economy to just continue to sit back and let the airlines kill each other off. Even the people who have union power have been forced to take cuts after cuts and the hiring of replacement workers as ground crew contractors is only the tip of the iceberg.
    What we are seeing now is the result of a calculated cheapest solution to the safety critical functions performed by ground crews here in Seattle.
    When will Alaska Airlines exercise its authority and get into the hiring staffing levels and training practices of its contractor? The answer is simple. When they are ready to pay more for the service and we are ready to pay more to fly.
    But the real answer is never, unless air fares are regulated and the practice of union busting is ended for ever.
    Until then ground crews will be under trained, under staffed, work too many hours, make error after error without repercussions and the result will be a loss in passenger safety.

  7. 7

    Diggindude spews:

    murry’s donation from abramoff is more important than untrained workers handling airplanes?
    jesus what a dikhead………

  8. 8

    Dr. E spews:

    “Collisions between ground equipment and airplanes are not uncommon. This incident proves the system works. It would be best of course to make perfect systems where this can’t happen, but the fact of the matter is that stuff like this happens all the time.”

    Do you have statistics to back this statement up? Furthermore, are you asserting that this working “system” is one that ensures that planes get hit by ground equipment? Sure sounds like that’s what you’re saying.

  9. 9

    spews:

    Mark the Redneck: Avoiding the actual topic, yet again.

    I think I won’t be flying Alaska ever again. I’d like to get there, you know alive.

  10. 11

    Dale spews:

    2 in a couple of weeks, makes you wonder if perhaps there were not more that were overlooked and unreported by untrained baggage handlers . Unions provide workers with a grievance process to protect them from unwarranted firings and these workers, like most at will employees, are fearful of being fired if they report any incidents to their bosses . There were several pickets when these workers were replaced and the media gave them little attention, perhaps people will listen know

  11. 12

    Donnageddon spews:

    Hey, Mark the Yelowdicked Redneck!!!

    Hows the bruises after getting your ass kicked and the rake shoved up your ass concerning your question regarding Senator Murray?

    You still have that cwwazzy fear of vaginas? Hmmm..

    You come back to demonstrate to everyone, yet again, that you know as much about politics as you do about engineering?

    Hmmm…?

    You two toothed, pant wetting Moron.

  12. 13

    My Left Foot spews:

    Well, Alaska would be served to follow the Johnson and Johnson approach to bad publicity. J and J pulled Tylenol when the bottles turned up tampered. Alaska should fire the low-ball, unqualified and inept contractor and hire back the union workers they fired. This would bring them great publicity and return a level of trust to the public that flies Alaska. Until then, hello Southwest and Delta.

  13. 14

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    Donna – I finally figured it out. You’re the dog in the neighborhood who barks all the time and pisses off all the neighbors. You’re loud, but you have nothing to say. You bark for a while and we think you’re gone, and then out of nowhere you start barking again. Even your own neighbors told you to STFU a few days ago, but of course you didn’t.

    From now on you will be called BarkingDog.

    Also, did you hear the word “twerp” a lot when the kids on the playground were beating the shit out of you?

  14. 15

    Donnageddon spews:

    Hey MTYDR!! Yeah, and your the neighborhood drunk who keeps asking people to disprove one your latest wild-eyed claims and when they do, you run away with a trail of piss behind you.

    We’ll just call you the Cowardly Lie-on.

    Kepp mouthing off, and we’ll keep providing the content and evidence to show what a disgusting sap you are.

  15. 20

    Dr. E spews:

    10

    Going off topic here, but thanks for the link, Mark. I don’t really think that Steyn makes much of a case for Western civilization dying due to liberalism. His thesis centers mainly on low birth rates, which he attributes (without supporting evidence) to “Post-Christian hyperrationalism”, while citing high fertility rates (Somalia, Niger, etc.) to support a rather flimsy argument — flimsy because he conveniently ignores the possible reasons for those high birth rates. What do Somalia, Niger, Afghanistan, and Yemen have in common, aside from fertility rates in excess of 6 babies per woman? The whole argument strikes me as rather fallacious, since there are factors other than religion or political orientation that impact fertility rates.

    Just f’rinstance: why would an affluent French couple, with the male working 34.5 hours per week and the mother with paid maternity leave and state-subsidized child care, not want to have more children? I don’t think the cause could be ascribed solely to political orientation, taxation levels, etc.

  16. 21

    Dr. E spews:

    With all that said, I personally, I wouldn’t mind avoiding most American carriers altogether, if that were possible. I already refuse to fly any American carrier overseas, as their service has gotten so shitty in the past 15 years or so. I’d much rather pay the difference and fly a (first-world) foreign carrier, get superior service, better food, be treated with more respect, etc.

  17. 22

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    DonnaFuc*ingGeddon drones:
    “Hey MTYDR!! Yeah, and your the neighborhood drunk who keeps asking people to disprove one your latest wild-eyed claims and when they do, you run away with a trail of piss behind you.
    We’ll just call you the Cowardly Lie-on.
    Kepp mouthing off, and we’ll keep providing the content and evidence to show what a disgusting sap you are.
    Comment by Donnageddon— 1/5/06 @ 7:03 pm”

    Donna would argue and insult a fucking signpost. He is a very unstable KLOWN!

  18. 23

    Donnageddon spews:

    Mr C, it is unkind of you sir to call Mark The YellowDicked Redneck a “fucking signpost”.

  19. 24

    marks spews:

    DR E @21

    I’d much rather pay the difference and fly a (first-world) foreign carrier, get superior service, better food, be treated with more respect, etc

    Ya know, I agree. Mainly because the Union Uglies at American make my stomach do the willies. Give me a good Asian Airline like KAL or Singapore and I will be happy with their flight attendants…

  20. 25

    Tom Johnson spews:

    Please call and tell Alaska you are not flying their system in the near future.

    Having called, I was treated like an idiot, since they are, quote, investigating these problems. Great solution.

    And, have been told, quote, it is hard to fire people who are not good at their jobs.

    Having fired a few people, that is bully poop.

    Whew.

  21. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    24

    Why are all white male Republicans voyeuristic chauvinist pigs? For that matter, why are they all America-hating fascist?
    And why do Republicans beat their mothers?

    Only the wind knows.

  22. 27

    Diggindude spews:

    why do rednecks living in homes that require wheel chocks, believe they are somehow connected to the neocons, that want them to earn less than minimum wage, and be thankful for it?

  23. 29

    My Left Foot spews:

    Cyniclown,

    How is life in the trailer park? Why do you swear in your posts here and not over at (un)Sound Politics? I know you are going to say something that you believe with all your heart is witty, but believe me when I say….You are the only one here that thinks so. I loved the clubbed foot nickname you have given me. Very PC. How do you keep from drooling on yourself all day you mouthbreathing, tobacco chewin’ ignorant moron?

    In closing, I would just like to say, Go fuck yourself!!!!!

  24. 30

    My Left Foot spews:

    Perhaps if you pulled that signpost out of your ass, Donnageddon would not mistake it for you and would quit arguing with it.

  25. 31

    My Left Foot spews:

    This just in: Alaska Airlines has hired road construction flaggers to direct support vehicles near terminals at Sea-Tac. These are union flaggers and Alaska has entered into negotiations on a new contract. Management has already taken a hard line approach to the new hires and has stated they will not hesitate to replace the unionized flaggers with elementary school student flaggers, who have at least one week of experience, should negotiations come to a standstill with the union representing the flaggers.

  26. 32

    Mike spews:

    The key difference between having union and non union baggage handlers run into an airplane is that the non union handlers can get fired and the union handlers cant.
    So talk all the smack you want about low bid contract employees. At least when there’s a fuck up discovered in their ranks. He or she gets canned. Unlike their union counterparts. Where the fuck up not only remains, but is rewarded for being a fuck up when everyone gets their agreed upon yearly pay raise.

    MS

  27. 34

    Diggindude spews:

    there is no protection for a union employee that is not qualified to do his or her job.
    non union people are quick to point out all the benefits union employees share, even though they have no fuckin idea what those benefits actually are………

  28. 35

    Diggindude spews:

    33……..
    well, either that chuck, or maybe since the airline is negotiating the removal of union employees there, someone from management, or menzies, is trying to make the union employees, appear as fkd up and inferior, as are the menzies crews.

  29. 36

    Chuck spews:

    Diggindude@34
    I can show real examples of union destruction of the employers property, can you site even one example of management screwing up their own property and blaming it on the union???
    Nice try though…

  30. 37

    Diggindude spews:

    well, chuck, time will tell……..if we’ve learned ANYTHING from having neocons in power, we’ve learned you have to wait for the truth to emerge…..

  31. 38

    Puddybud spews:

    Chuck, see how diggindudeASS is in full retreat, he resorts to the neo-con attack? Sounds like headless loocy to me. Great find on that article.

  32. 40

    Puddybud spews:

    DiggindudeASS: Went to the USAirways website. Did you know they merged with America West last year. Probably not right? They posted job openings for Aircraft Maintenance Technician. I thought of you until I read: Ability to read, understand and use technical publications (buzzer goes off) disqualified!

  33. 41

    Puddybud spews:

    While Goldy decides to release my #39, here is another disqaualification for you on the USAirways Aircraft Maintenance Technician job: “Be able to operate lift trucks, fork lift, boom lift, and tractor after attending training.” – You’d be to scared to have an accident!

  34. 42

    Larry the Urbanite spews:

    33-37: WTF? DO any of you know anything about airlines or air travel? Do you know people who work in these jobs? I do. What kind of monsters do you think these people are? To damage a plane and possibly kill more than a HUNDRED people because of a labor dispute? Puleeze, they are management and labor, not mass murderers.

    Interestingly, lower down in the article it says ” It’s reckless and irresponsible for people to speculate on what may have caused the damage until the facts are known,” said Joseph Tiberi, spokesman for the union that represents mechanics and baggage handlers.” Not suprisingly, the voice of reason is a union employee.

    See my post @ 2. Damaged planes are bad news for everyone (labor and management) concerned, for a variety of reasons: economic, political, public relations. ANd remember, accidents DO happen. That’s why they are called accidents.

  35. 43

    RP spews:

    “Collisions between ground equipment and airplanes are not uncommon. This incident proves the system works. It would be best of course to make perfect systems where this can’t happen, but the fact of the matter is that stuff like this happens all the time.” (Posted by Redneck).

    I work for a Japanese airline, and it is true that accidents with ground handling equipment occur from time-to-time. Accidents do happen, and when they do you report them and inspect carefully. Depending upon the results, you may need an FAA inspection, (or a JCAB inspection in Japan).

    But if my memory serves me correctly, we had TWO incidents with ground handling equipment over the last year, with only minor damage. Both were promptly reported. Our ground staff is not union, but its not out-sourced, either. Our ground staff are workers who expect to stay with the company for their lifetime, often moving internally into different positions within the company. Their future rests with the future of the company, and they are going to be careful not to do anything which would damage the company in the long run.

    Now, compare this with out-sourced employees making low wages? Maybe you can get away with paying close to minimum wage in a fast-food restaurant, but not with multi-million dollars worth of aerospace equipment. A grounded airplane loses an incredible amount of money eacy day, if it results in cancelled flights the revenue loss may never be recovered.

  36. 44

    Aexia spews:

    Has she resigned yet? Has she given back the money?

    What money? Not a single penny from Abramoff went to Democrats. Not a single Democrat is being investigated in connection with the bribery, money laundering, and kickbacks scandals.

  37. 45

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    32

    “The key difference between having union and non union baggage handlers run into an airplane is that the non union handlers can get fired and the union handlers cant.”

    No, the key difference between union baggage handlers and non union contractors is, unions give you competent workmen, low-bid contractors don’t. You get what you pay for.

  38. 46

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    32 (continued)

    The millions of dollars in damage to Alaska’s jets is a classic illustration of the old saying, “penny wise, pound foolish.”

    Problem is, this cost will not be borne by Alaska’s stupid management or even Alaska’s feckless shareholders, but by insurance companies who will pass the loss on to innocent consumers who pay insurance premiums.

  39. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    32 (continued)

    Another example of an irresponsible management externalizing wasteful costs to the general public. We pay $100 more in insurance premiums so Alaska can make another 50 cents of profit — which will go to the CEO and top management, not to Alaska’s investors or shareholders.

  40. 48

    Sven spews:

    Roger,

    Exactly how does a union guarentee competent workers?

    The company stilldoes the hiring, the company does the training, and the company does the supervision?

    What is it that you feel they bring to the table that makes the difference?

    I grant that using a contractor to provide the services is also not on par to internal hiring, training and supervision….

    But Alaska could do that with out a Union. So why let the union have sway?

  41. 49

    Daddy Love spews:

    Mark The Redneck @ 4
    Don’t you think it might be a better use of increasingly scarce investigatory dollars (in the era of $1.4-trillion-dollar wars) to concentrate our investigatiosn wehre they are likely to actually strike “pay dirt,” if you will; that is, on those actaully linked to Abramoff, whom he and his confedreates finger as “the bribed,” etc? You know, guys like Denny Hastert, who lobbied the Interior Secretary Gail Norton to block a casino development after receiving $20K from Abramoff client tribes and Abramoff hosted a luncheon fundraiser for Denny’s PAC at his restaurant, for which Jack conveniently pick up the tab (until it came out in the papers and Denny “returned” the cost of the lunch, but not the $20K). Maybe someone like that, huh?

    Or do you know of some action taken by Senator Murray in return for campaign contributions? I didn’t think so.

  42. 51

    marks spews:

    Libertarian @45

    I am going to steal that line and make use of it elsewhere…

    Thanks.

  43. 52

    Diggindude spews:

    pudd-licker@38
    spin it?
    you mean more?
    if i want to know about the “bush recession, and housing bubble, i will go to the nber……not a neo wacko spin tank……..unemployment statistics, by the way, dont reflect all those that have dropped off the stats…..
    oh, and contrary to what dumbass neocons in wa. state think, throwing accusations around, doesnt’ make guilt…..(see nov. 2004 election)
    dumbass…….

  44. 53

    Diggindude spews:

    that said…..if it turns out “ANYONE” deliberately damaged an airplane, that person is a criminal……….and should be treated as such.

  45. 54

    For the Clueless spews:

    Redneck @ 10

    I read the WSJ twice this week. I read a nice article on the relationship between Sony and Samsung and I remember a bit of pessimism on how stocks will do in 2006.

    I avoided the editorial page. Why? Because I don’t want to waste my time reading megalomaniacal assholes like Steyn.

  46. 56

    Puddybud spews:

    I love flying Alaska. I will continue to fly Alaska. By you all not flying I can get my MVP Gold flyer upgrades easier. I’ll get those frequent flyer miles while you all sit home on your ass or fly some lousy airlines like Southworst or Untied. Pleeeeeeeeease stay off Alaska!

    Art-the-Fart: I have already asked TSA how to get on the frequent flyer list early so I can navigate through the airports without the elite lines faster. Have a great day!

    Cluedinless&less: You avoided the WSJ editorial page? Yes, now we know why you have librul disease. That’s why your world is warped. Of all the righty editorial pages out there, they go after Bush with a vengenace when he’s wrong. Yeah, you missed those too. Keep reading DK & MM & TP, DKMMTPCluedinless&lessASS (DKMMTPCASS) along with CMDR Ogg! Those URLs are the comics of the Internet world.

  47. 57

    For the Clueless spews:

    FRMRCRNCPPP:

    Yeah I avoid NOW AFTER HAVING READ IT FOR YEARS. I got sick of the feeling of my blood boiling.

    So if you don’t like it SHOVE IT! They can go after Bush all they want – they loved when he was on a roll – now they hate him when the whole house of cards is about to fall? Fine crew, Gigot and company.