Passengers First?

Delays/Cancellations, JFK - New York/JFK, LGA - New York/La Guardia

Yesterday, as I was going through my usual morning ritual of scanning airline news and blogs, I came across a press release saying that the “Air Travelers Association” had submitted a “Passengers First” proposal to solve the congestion problems in New York. At first, I thought it was the ATA, but wait, that’s the Air TRANSPORT Association. This is definitely something different.

After reading the release, I became very suspicious. First, the release is very high level and offers no details. A visit to the Association’s website revealed nothing more than a very poorly put together site with a photo of an America West 757 in the original livery that must be at least 10 years old.

So what were “they” suggesting we do?

  1. Eliminate corporate jets from LaGuardia – How many corporate jet flights are there from LGA every day? It can’t be that many. And where else would they go on the east side of the East River?
  2. Do not permit “Non-Standard” departures from LaGuardia – This is a very rare occurrence. According to a New York air traffic expert friend of mine, this would have very little impact.
  3. Eliminate all published connections at LGA – Why? He says it only accounts for 5% of the traffic at the airport. I can’t imagine that eliminating connections would do anything to relieve air traffic congestion. It would just reduce the number of passengers and not the number of flights. That isn’t the problem.
  4. Eliminate the perimeter rule prohibiting flights over 1,500 miles – Huh? Again, this does nothing to reduce air traffic congestion. It just reallocates capacity to different areas. There will still be too many airplanes for the current system set up.
  5. Change the definition of a “delay” from not just being 15 minutes – Again, huh? This doesn’t fix congestion. This just tries to convince people that they aren’t delayed. Wow.

That’s a heck of a list that leaves more questions than answers. After I finished reading this morning, I shot an email over to 07_11_29 stemplerDavid Stempler, the man who appears to be the entire organization, asking many of the questions I posted above. I said that I was planning on writing this morning, so I asked to hear back by last night. I did not.

I suppose I shouldn’t expect such quick turnaround for a little blog like mine, but if you’re going to put out a press release and you want it to get coverage, I would think you would at least write back asking for more time to make sure you have a say in what happens. Hopefully I’ll hear back from him and can post updates here, but for now, I’ll just hope that someone reading can help fill in the blanks for me. What am I missing?

My biggest question is about who he is trying to support here. In his release, he says, “The Air Travelers Association is the airline passenger/consumer representative on the U.S. DOT’s New York Aviation Rulemaking Committee . . . .” He is clearly connected to someone if he made it on this committee, but as many others have asked, is he really supporting passengers?

Much of this proposal does not seem to address any of the issues passengers face today. Let’s say this does open up a little more space at the already saturated LaGuardia. Is that really going fix the New York area congestion issues? I think not. Flights will fill those holes very quickly. I’m just still trying to figure out the motivation here.

A quick Google search brought up a post from Chris Elliot with links to all sorts of sites that raise questions about the legitimacy of this organization. Hmm. Very questionable.

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5 comments on “Passengers First?

  1. Yes, I laughed about the same release yesterday. Pretty funny. I particularly like the part about changing the definition of delay.

  2. This is a great post, particularly the links to the more detailed questions about Stempler’s (and his association’s) legitimacy. I have been wondering about him every time I see him quoted, or worse, interviewed in a national medium. Sounds like a racket to me.

  3. The dude strikes me as histrionic with delusions of grandeur that he is the flying public’s representative. How does he ever fit in an airplane with that big head?

    Although, based on how air travel is nowadays, perhaps he HAS been representing us…quite well, actually, since we find ourselves fairly unhappy with service these days – and he seems to support ideas that would pretty much maintain the status quo.

  4. Stempler is a fool and the Air Traveler Association lacks any credibility. How and why he gets any coverage is a mystery.

  5. Outlaw jets with less than 99 seats from New York airspace! This is the best way to fix the problem. Regional jets require way more space between other planes due to wake turbulence and they hog landing slots. Select markets like Erie, Bangor, Nantucket and other small ones and let those flights be operated on regional jets. Other than that, Delta and American operate regional jets between NY and Boston and Washington! That’s simply a waste! Chicago used to be similar. There, any slot that a regional jet uses should be up for grabs by another airline unless its to a small market.
    This is the best way to solve this problem!

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