What Were They Thinking?
By ANN Senior Editor Pete Combs
An open letter to the baggage
handlers and flight attendants of US Airways:
Dear Aviation Professionals of US Airways,
What the hell were you thinking? I'm talking
specifically to those baggage handlers and flight attendants who
sicked out Christmas weekend, snarling the entire air traffic
system and leaving holiday travelers stuck without their bags for
days. Merry Freakin' Christmas.
When American Airlines chief Donald Carty won
millions in concessions from his union employees back in 2002, only
to have his double-secret, bullet-proof pension plan outed to the
national media, we stood with the employees. Shame on
Carty, we said.
When United pulled the plug on its employee
pension plans, ANN was there, reporting the controversy on a
When Northwest did the same, we clearly sided with
But when you decided to stage a sick out -- and you know that's
exactly what it was -- on one of the busiest weekends of the year,
well, in our minds, that dog just won't hunt. You shot yourselves
in the collective butt -- and for what?
Did you honestly think your passengers would understand? How
would you like it if you were stuck in a terminal for hours on end,
standing in line after line to report your baggage missing, then
going to the hotel or Grandma's house with only the clothes on your
back? How would you have liked it when little Suzy and little
Johnny had nothing under the tree because you were in Charlotte and
your luggage -- with their gifts inside -- ended up in
Again, what were you thinking?
Nobody likes what's happening to US Airways and nobody likes
what's happening to the people who work for that troubled airline.
Nobody likes the idea of another round of concessions and nobody
likes the fact that your pensions have gone the way of the
But nobody likes the cheap shot you
dealt your passengers, your company and yourselves on Christmas
Day. We can certainly understand the frustration you feel, but your
sick-out was unprofessional and poorly thought out.
The US Department of Transportation is now conducting an
"expedited" investigation into your actions. The government wants
to talk with employees, managers and passengers to find out what
happened. The company has now threatened to fire you if you're
found out. If US Airways goes under, don't for a minute think other
airlines will line up to hire you -- they're in only a little
better position than you are.
We're sorry for the troubles you face. You didn't ask for your
company to go bankrupt -- twice -- and you certainly didn't ask to
have your salary cut -- again. But after a sick-out that could cost
you your jobs and force your airline to go under, we find it
increasingly difficult to sympathize with your plight.