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Thread: Passenger Rights On Airliners

  1. #11
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    All great information, Speedy, as usual. the only issue I have is I feel by booking the window seat, I do own the shade. I personally like to look out at the terrain, the weather and everything is infinitely interesting to me. Also I need the light for reading my book, the overhead light is usually anemic. Nothing irks me more than when a person next to me at the window automatically closes the shade, but I understand that that is their right if they booked the seat, as it is my right to look out the window if I booked that seat.

  2. #12
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    And it is a great talent to be able to do a retaliatory fart on command, I am working on that.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by longducdong View Post
    All great information, Speedy, as usual. the only issue I have is I feel by booking the window seat, I do own the shade. I personally like to look out at the terrain, the weather and everything is infinitely interesting to me. Also I need the light for reading my book, the overhead light is usually anemic. Nothing irks me more than when a person next to me at the window automatically closes the shade, but I understand that that is their right if they booked the seat, as it is my right to look out the window if I booked that seat.
    I am a window-seater myself. As I said...

    2) Is it OK to put the window shade up or down? If you are seated in the window seat, then you have total control over the window shade. However, general courtesy is that the window shade is down during the enroute portion of the flight, and is up during the departure and arrival phases of flight.

    What I mean by that is that the window-seat guy has the final say over the position of the window shade, but in accordance with common courtesy, he should position the shade as generally accepted, if he has no other specific personal preference.

  4. #14
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Also... although many airlines don't enforce this rule... the window shade should be up during landing and takeoff, for safety reasons. In the event of an emergency evacuation, it's important to be able to see outside of the aircraft. And those flimsy window shades can be jammed into their opened or closed positions very easily.

    The "emergency" issue reminds me of a particular incident that I had on an airline flight, once...

    A couple with a child were seated in the exit row. It was a narrow-body airliner (Boeing 737), with a 3-and-3 single-aisle configuration. When the FA came through the cabin, I -- the "Bad Guy" -- said to the FA, "I don't think that it's appropriate for a 5-year-old child to be seated in the exit row."

    The FA "huffed" at me, and the Dad said to me, "We are traveling with a child. We need the extra room." I responded, "That's NOT the purpose of the Exit Row." Now I'm Definitely the Bad Guy.

    The FA got the purser, who came back and asked me, "Do You have a Problem, Sir?" I answered, "Yes. A child should not be seated in an Exit Row. You should know this." The Purser responded, "Well... Sir... I think that, under the circumstances, it's appropriate." I don't know if the Cabin Crew knew the family, or what was going on, but they were determined to let the child sit in the exit row. I felt offended, so I "Whupped Out" the Ace in the Hole...

    "Appropriate? Well, I guess that we'll just be ignoring 14 CFR 121.585, specifically section (b)(2), on this flight."

    As soon as I said that, the Purser immediately told the family that they would have to change seats.

    I know that it seems a little weird that I would know the exact law that concerns this particular situation... but... that's an integral part of my job. You wouldn't think that it's weird for a lawyer to know specific sections of case law. That's my job, regarding transportation. You don't want to match wits with me on knowledge of U.S. law or the laws of any other nation, or on ICAO agreements concerning transportation, I assure you.

  5. #15
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Regarding Exit Row seating...

    Most people like sitting in the Exit Row, due to the increased legroom that is usually present. However, a few people don't like the exit row. Common reasons are that the person feels uncomfortable sitting close to an exit door, or that the exit row is cold (often true, due to outside air leaking through the seals of the exit door, which is not dangerous).

    Any passenger assigned a seat in the exit row can demand to be re-seated... no questions asked. You don't have to give a reason... All that you have to say is "I don't want to sit in the Exit Row."

  6. #16
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    A few common concerns about window seats and exit doors...

    1) Will a bullet hole cause the airplane to catastrophically decompress?

    In most cases, NO. If someone aboard the aircraft fires a handgun into the side of the airplane, sudden decompression of the cabin will not usually occur. In fact, even multiple bullet holes will not cause the cabin to decompress catastrophically, although several bullet holes would probably lead to a gradual decompression of the cabin. The biggest concern with a gun fired aboard an aircraft is the bullet hitting a part of a critical aircraft system, such as the hydraulics or fly-by-wire system. Bullets don't generally pose an instantaneous catastrophic threat to most modern airliners. Explosives (such as grenades or bombs) do pose a grave threat.


    2) Can someone destroy an aircraft by opening an emergency exit door?

    No. Despite what you have seen in the movies, it is practically impossible for any boarding door or emergency exit door to be opened during flight, at altitude. The doors are not designed for that. The doors are designed to be opened AFTER an emergency landing. While in flight, you would have to overcome the pressure differential between the cabin and the outside atmosphere, in order to open the door. Air pressure differential is more powerful than most people generally think. In order to open a typical over-wing emergency exit door in flight, at altitude, you would need to apply enough force to lift a 7000-pound weight. Most likely, the door handle would simply break off, before you came anywhere near applying enough force to actually open the door.

    Exits which are not specifically designated as "Emergency Exits" may be capable of being opened during flight. D.B. Cooper knew this, and used it to his advantage.

    3) You must be able to communicate with the cabin crew in order to sit in an exit row. This is why the FAs demand that you answer their questions regarding exit row seating with a Verbal "Yes."

    4) Wearing your seat belt is the best way to survive any airline accident, statiscally.

    5) Statisically speaking, almost all airline accidents are survivable. Investigations of airline accidents have positively confirmed that most passenger deaths occur AFTER the crash, usually due to post-crash fire and/or smoke inhalation. Of course, some accidents are just not survivable, but the vast majority of deaths have occurred after the crash. If you're wearing your seat belt and "brace" properly before impact, you dramatically increase your chances of survival. Being awake, lucid, aware, and mobile... immediately after the crash... is the key to survival.

    6) Know where the two emergency exits closest to your seat are, and be prepared to use them in a zero-visibility environment. Don't try to save anyone else until you are Outside of the airplane. You can best assist other passengers, even your own family, by getting out of the airplane and then assisting other passengers through the exit door. It's a difficult emotional concept, but it's proven, and it does work. If you are the first person out of the exit door, keep yelling, at the top of your lungs, "Exit Here! Move! Exit Here!"

    7) Almost everything aboard an airliner is flammable. The airplane is just waiting to burst into flames. Don't try to bring anything off of the airplane when you evacuate. All of your personal belongings can be replaced... your life cannot be replaced.

    8) Airliners generally only carry enough equipment to generate oxygen for a few minutes, until the flight crew can get the airplane to an altitude low enough where oxygen masks are not required. This is because oxygen is Highly Flammable. Airliners typically use "Oxygen Generators", rather than stored oxygen... once again, because pure oxygen is basically a bomb that is just waiting to explode.

    9) Always put your own oxygen mask on before attempting to help anyone else, even your own children. Why? Because you only have a few seconds of useful consciousness at altitude. If you waste those precious seconds trying to put a mask on your kid, then you'll pass out, your kid will pass out, and then you're both dead. Put your own mask on first, then you can help out the entire passenger cabin, at your leisure.

    I have, actually... no bullshit... been in a catastrophic sudden decompression situation, myself. It's not any kind of fun, I assure you. Here's what happens... and this is based upon my own personal first-hand experience...

    Without warning, everything instantly gets very quiet (no air equals no sound), and all of the air is suddenly sucked out of your lungs, due to the pressure differential. Your ears will "Pop" and you will feel a sharp pain in your ears, and possibly in your sinuses. If you are congested due to a cold or allergies, you could be instantly rendered unconscious or incapacitated by the pain.

    About 1 or 2 seconds into the event, you'll begin to equalize. Expect severe confusion and disorientation. On most airliners, the oxygen masks will have dropped. Ignore all other concerns and get the mask on. If you're cruising at 41,000 feet, you have about 20 seconds before you pass out. Pilots are trained to immediately get the airplane down to a breathable altitude, and modern airliners have an "auto-dive" function built in. Either way, after you get your mask on, your next task is to secure yourself for the rapid descent. After that is done, then you can assist other passengers in getting their oxygen masks on. In most cases, it's not that important to help your fellow passengers to get their masks on, as you'll arrive at a breathable altitude very quickly.

    Once the aircraft has leveled at a breathable altitude, assist other passengers with their medical concerns. Some passengers will have passed out, and some passengers will be suffering from severe "Barotrauma."

  7. #17
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    Airline Danger...

    It is often said that the most dangerous part of a flight is the takeoff, and the second most dangerous part of a flight is the landing. Well... There is a lot of truth in both of those assumptions, although, as usual, the truth is never quite that simple.


    Takeoff: This is certainly the riskiest part of the flight, statistically speaking. The airplane is the heaviest that it's going to be for the entire flight, and during the takeoff, the airplane is "Low and Slow"... the worst-case scenario for any airplane flight. This doesn't mean that takeoff is dangerous... it just means that takeoff is usually the riskiest part of the flight. The pilots are never more alert and attuned to detail than they are during takeoff... except possibly during an instrument approach to bare minimums.

    Landing: Just as in takeoff, the airplane is in a low-energy state during landing. However, that's the Goal of landing. Most pilots will tell you that any good landing is the result of a good approach. If the approach has been conducted properly, then the landing usually presents little danger.

    Departure and Climbout: After takeoff from a busy airport or from an airport with difficult surrounding terrain (such as SJO), the pilots are usually presented with a rigid departure profile and a very heavy aircraft. The goal is generally to get the airplane as high as possible in the shortest amount of time possible... "High and Fast" is a safe and desirable state of flight. In high-density environments (such as Atlanta and New York) the margin for error is tiny, as Air Traffic Controllers shuffle airplanes in and out of tiny chunks of airspace as quickly as possible, and rely upon the quick response and professionalism of the pilots.

    En-Route Climb and Cruise: After the handoff from the Terminal controllers to the Center, the pilots can start to relax a little bit. In the cabin, you'll hear the familiar "Ding", and possibly a post-departure pilot announcement. On long International flights, the controllers will insert the aircraft into a trans-oceanic track, which requires little or no manipulation for several hours.

    En-Route Descent and Terminal Arrival Transition: On long flights, the "Rest" crew will relieve the en-route flight deck crew, and prepare the aircraft for transition to the terminal arrival environment. This is not a critical time for the airplane, physically... but it is the most critical time for the flight deck crew. For aircraft arriving at certain airports (such as SJO), the "Special Pilot-in-Command Qualified" pilot will need to be present on the flight deck. After the En-Route Descent, the aircraft will be handed off to the Terminal Arrival Controllers, the real "Money-Makers" of the International Air Traffic Control System.

    Approach and Landing: The Terminal Arrival Controllers will sequence and position the aircraft for arrival at the appropriate airport. This is a critical phase of flight... The risk is based upon the specific airport, the weather, traffic levels, and other factors.

  8. #18
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    This one always comes up after I make any post regarding Air Traffic Control... and it just did...

    A long-time friend emailed me about the question of authority aboard an airliner.


    The Undisputed truth, as supported by law and International agreements, is that the Pilot-in-Command has the Absolute and Final Authority regarding the Operation and Conduct of his aircraft.

    However...

    Air Traffic Control (also in accordance with law and International agreements) is the Ultimate authority regarding the "Use of Airspace."

    The concept is best illustrated by analogy and example...


    Yes... A Pilot can do whatever he wants to do with his airplane. He is the absolute authority regarding his aircraft.

    However... There is usually more than one airplane flying, at any given time. This means that you now have two or more "Pilots-in-Command" who can do whatever they want to do. Multiply that by 10,000, and now you might start to have a problem. Air Traffic Control (ATC) exists to protect the public in general, regardless of the wishes of any individual pilot or his aircraft. A pilot can do whatever he wants to do with his airplane... but it's not "his" airspace. The airspace belongs to the public, and is equally available to that pilot and 10,000 other pilots.

    In other words, the Pilot-in-Command can do whatever he wants to do with his airplane... as long as he doesn't do it in public airspace. There's the quandary... How do we handle this paradox?

    The Pilot-in-Command should do whatever is necessary to meet an immediate concern. Other than that, he should only act with the permission of ATC. ATC, on the other hand, is not "God", nor should it act like a God. ATC's purpose is to protect the public interest and to allow all aircraft equal, free access to the public airspace system.

  9. #19
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    I get this question a lot from private and corporate pilots...

    Do the airlines get priority over private and business flights?

    Well... As is often the case, the answer is not simple.

    However, if you want a simple answer, then the answer is "Yes... to some extent."

    Why is that? Well... The airlines are a part of the economy, and ever since 9/11, a full-fledged part of the national transportation system of the USA. Also, the airlines have a set schedule, arranged well in advance. It's not like it's a big surprise that there is a Delta Airlines push at ATL at 4:00 p.m., or whenever it is. The rights of private pilots and corporate flights do not include the right to disrupt a push which has been scheduled well in advance. Also, a typical narrow-body airliner has at least 150 passengers on board. The rights of those 150 passengers trump the rights of a pilot and his 3 passengers in a Cessna 172, by sheer numbers alone. "The needs of the many outweigh..." (you know the rest)

    On the other hand, the USA's national airspace system and national transportation system is one of the most private-user-friendly systems on Planet Earth. If you're bitching about your access privileges in the USA, then you had better get a grip on reality... You DO NOT want the USA to adopt the rules of Any Other State on the planet. Without exception, they are all less accommodating than the USA. The USA is one of the few States which grants ultimate authority over its airspace to the civilian government. Shortly after 9/11, the USA came within a gnat's hair of militarizing its airspace. Be careful what you wish for...

    Back to the original question...

    Private and corporate flights DO get exactly the same priority as airline flights, in pure theory. Private and corporate flights also have the responsibility of not disrupting the pre-planned and scheduled activities of a bona-fide business (airline).


    --------------


    How does this work in Costa Rica?

    The situation is a lot more "Grey" in Costa Rica. Costa Rica's air transportation system and airspace is subject to the sovereign domain of the State. However, Costa Rica has contracted out practically every part of its air transportation system and airspace to private entities. This is what is known in the USA as "Privatization." There was a big push to do this in the USA about 20 years ago, but that push lost its momentum after 9/11.

    Costa Rica's commercial airports and all of its airspace are run by privately-owned corporations. What this means for you, the traveler, is that you are welcome to fly into and out of Costa Rica, as well as within Costa Rica, as long as you generate a profit for the company that is running the show.

    In Costa Rica, that means that the airspace is controlled by the quasi-governmental multi-national corporation COCESNA. As private, non-governmental employees, COCESNA employees have the right to strike and are not subject to any governmental loyalty rules. The airports are run by private corporations who make money via commissions, concessions, and passenger taxes/fees. The Costa Rican government provides Immigration and Customs services at the airports, but security and other services are supplied by the contractors (although the contractors do often sub-contract government-employed police as security officers).

    Practically speaking, the Costa Rican government has "washed its hands" of air traffic and airspace concerns, and leaves the whole mess in the control of COCESNA and the other private contractors. I can guarantee you that, as a former SME for ICAO, I know 10 times as much about aviation law in Costa Rica as anybody in Costa Rica's Department of Transportation or anyone else in the Costa Rican government. Nobody in the Costa Rican government has a clue about aviation management, safety, or commerce.


    ------------


    The most often asked question in aviation business circles, regarding Costa Rica, is "Why isn't Costa Rica the Central American airline hub?"

    My stock answer is, "Costa Rica doesn't see the opportunity, and it's Too Slow."

    Nevertheless, Costa Rica represents the ideal opportunity for a Central American airline hub. CR already has the Originating/Terminating passenger load to support a relatively large hub. Panama's Copa hub's itinerant numbers have been going south like a duck in winter for several years, and CR already beats Tocumen, hands-down, for a good hub location. The problem with CR is that it hasn't built the airport, and that's a huge shame. Here we have Copa, hubbing out of Panama City, which is practically right around the block, and Avianca (ex-Taca) hubbing out of San Salvador and Guatemala City.

    Seriously... If you're not hubbing because Avianca sees San Salvador as a Better Option... then you are seriously Fucking Up, in Epic Fashion.

    Daniel Oduber Quirós... the last person to have any kind of insight whatsoever into the aviation industry, pushed the construction of the International airport in Liberia (LIR), which bears his name, in the late 1970's. Nobody else... not even the airlines... wanted the airport, but Quirós had a vision. When the tourism boom hit in the mid 1990s, the airport went from one airline flight per week to one airline flight per day. Guanacaste is the hot tourist destination of the decade, and mega-all-inclusive resorts are being built in the area as fast as they can pour the concrete.

    LIR is still the "Bastard Child" of Costa Rican aviation. Nobody wants to admit that Quirós was right. Meanwhile, the CR government is pouring cash into building an airport near Orotina/Cascajal that won't be open for at least another 5-10 years. LIR is already up and running, and triple-outpaces the growth at SJO, every year. LIR is built upon flat ground, with plenty of open, available ground around its single runway. LIR could very easily become a quad-parallel hub airport, and you wouldn't even have to try that hard to do it.

    I occasionally have this discussion with someone in the CR transportation department or the airline industry. My typical "Go To" question is, "If you were an airline... Why in The World would you hub in El Salvador, rather than Costa Rica?" The usual Tico response is, "El Salvador already has the airport built for a hub." My response to that is, "Do you even listen to yourself when you talk?"

  10. #20
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    Reference passports:

    1. Americans do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. However, they must have a current valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica. (Either to return to your country or to go to another country). US passport must be valid for a minimum of one day from the day you enter Costa Rica.

    2. Citizens of other nationalities do not need a tourist visa to enter Costa Rica if they have a tourist visa, a visa for crew or a business visa (multiple entry) from United States of America, Canada, Japon, Schengen Visa and/ or any country of the European Union . Note: Such visa must be stamped in the passport and be valid for at least 1 day (The length of stay may not be greater than the validity of the visa and may not exceed 30 days) or 6 months (Japon) from the day you enter Costa Rica.
    From http://www.costarica-embassy.org/index.php?q=node/72

    1. I wouldn't do it.
    2. Whether immigration officers at SJO follow this - I wouldn't try to find out.

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