Pilots Pressured to Cut Costs by Cutting Down on Fuel, Safety Margins
A few years ago, I was flying somewhere with a friend who was one of those nervous travelers who just has to get to the airport 17 hours before the flight. We got to the gate the agent had arrived and were hanging around shooting the bull nearby. Eventually, an airline employee came and started firing up the computers and whatnot, and shortly thereafter, a pilot arrived. The gate agent had noticed us loitering nearby, but the pilot apparently hadn't because he picked up a clipboard, glanced at it, and then remarked, loudly enough for us both to hear, "Oh, shit, not that fucking plane.
My friend and I were like, 'Who-what? Did he say what I thought he said?' The gate agent instantly freaked out and a big brouhaha ensued, in which the pilot, realizing he had made a major error, at least in protocol, tried to reassure us that he was just talking about the air-conditioning in the flight deck, or some such. Our reaction, naturally, was to declare that we sure as fuck weren't going to get on any fucking plane that the fucking pilot didn't want to fucking fly. (The potty-mouths were everywhere on that clear day.)
They bumped us up to first class on a later flight, gave us some drink coupons and eventually we were mollified (I'm easily mollified with free booze).
I recalled the story yesterday, when I came across this little item, via CNN:
The pilots union for US Airways said Wednesday the airline is pressuring pilots to use less fuel than they feel is safe, in order to save money.
The union also paid for a full-page ad in Wednesday's USA Today addressed to "our valued passengers." The ad accuses the airline of "a program of intimidation to pressure your captain to reduce fuel loads."