Sabotage is Bad for the Union But Worse for American Airlines


American Airlines and its mechanics have been locked in prolonged negotiations for years. Things escalated recently when the unions were slapped by a judge for engaging in an illegal job action, but that hasn’t solved the problem. Both sides seem entrenched in their positions, and resolution is unlikely in the near future. Things may seem bleak in that regard, but even at its bleakest, you never expect aircraft sabotage. Could someone really go so far as to try to put lives in danger over a contract negotiation? Apparently so.

In July, a long-time mechanic for American in Miami glued a foam block strategically-placed to prevent the aircraft’s computers from receiving data from sensors. In just seven minutes, he had created a serious — though not likely fatal — problem. The aircraft was loaded and ready to fly from Miami to Nassau, but the airplane did its job. Alerts went off, and the pilots returned to the gate. The airplane was taken out of service and fixed.

Why would this mechanic do something like this? Was it terrorism? Not in the way you might expect. I’ll let the Miami Herald explain.

After his arrest Thursday, the affidavit says that Alani told federal air marshals assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that “his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers.”

He said that his motive in tampering with the navigational system was because he was “upset” over stalled contract negotiations between the mechanics’ union and American Airlines that has raged for months — that “the dispute had affected him financially.”

He further said he only tampered with the plane’s air data module “in order to cause a delay or have the flight canceled in anticipation of obtaining overtime work,” according to the affidavit.

Sabotage has happened before, but it’s incredibly rare. Aircraft mechanics are well-trained and take pride in keeping airplanes airworthy. Much of the initial reaction I saw from other mechanics was that this guy should be stripped of his license and thrown in jail, or worse. It’s the cardinal sin. You don’t harm an airplane.

But this mechanic appears to have been swept up in a very Trumpian way. There was a lot of incendiary rhetoric coming from the union leading up to the permanent injunction. That kind of rhetoric can easily be ignored by most as a normal negotiating tactic. A small minority, however, may take it to heart, get agitated, and run with it. They feel empowered to do what’s necessary. In this case, one person stepped over the line because of his very real concerns about getting a contract. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen, but it only takes one person to go a step too far.

You’d think this would be very bad news for the union, and it could be. If the rank and file realize that union rhetoric encouraged this kind of behavior, it could reduce support for leadership. But let’s be honest… it’s unlikely to have an impact. The injunction is already in place, and the union has been quick to respond to this incident. John Samuelsen, head of the TWU, sent me this statement shortly after the news broke last week.

The Transport Workers Union is shocked by the reported allegations of airplane sabotage by an employee . If these allegations of sabotage are true, they are outrageous and indefensible and we fully condemn such actions. Our mechanics are highly trained professionals who are dedicated to performing at the highest standards in the industry —- and we will not tolerate anything less.

I suppose this can be better judged once we see if the union tries to defend the mechanic’s job or not down the line. But for now, it is saying the right thing, and I don’t expect this will change anything on either side. In other words, this mechanic’s misguided efforts to get closer to a contract were in vain. That doesn’t mean they won’t have an impact elsewhere, however. If anything suffers, it’s the company at large.

American has already pushed away travelers this year (and the year before that, and the year before that…) with poor operational performance. But sabotage? That’s a whole different category of fear. It’s tweets like these that show the real danger.

People are already afraid to fly on a 737 MAX. Now they have to worry about sabotage as well? American is taking steps to try to downplay this and settle nerves both inside the airline and out. It’s unclear, however, how the public will react to the incident.

From a rational perspective, I’d like to believe this mechanic knew what he was doing and was well aware that it would be caught before the airplane ever left the ground. That may, however, be wishful thinking. He may not have thought it through that far. Even if he did, who cares? The average traveler doesn’t know that and never will. More importantly, the average traveler doesn’t care about the nuance. A mechanic sent an airplane out to fly when it wasn’t in a condition to do so. That’s the takeaway that may stick with people.

Looking at the bigger picture, this kind of incident is bad for pretty much everyone involved. It hurts the trust that exists between so many different groups. Travelers lose trust in the airline, employees lose trust in the mechanics, heck, mechanics lose trust in their fellow mechanics, and so on. For American, it’s just one more problem that has the airline on its heels. As United learned a few years ago, the more problems that pile up, the more a truly “big fix” becomes necessary. The hard part is figuring out what that might actually fix American.

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88 comments on “Sabotage is Bad for the Union But Worse for American Airlines

  1. I really enjoy your blog but why would you bring your politics into this – hearted in a “Trumpian way”

    Give us frickin break. This has as much to do with Trump as it has to do with Bernie or Warren.

    Stick with planes and flight etc. I really don’t care how you vote or stand on the political spectrum I just want to read your thoughts on the industry. My bet is that is how most of your readers feel – they want to read your blog

    I am tired of everybody’s political rants.

    Boyd Tomasetti

    1. I agree with Boyd.

      I hate when any blogger or journalist injects their political bias into an article that is not about politics.

      If you want to be snarky/sarcastic about someones motivations, the English language is full of words that have nothing to do with politics.

      Your column is “Cranky Flier” and NOT “Cranky Politico”!

      1. This isn’t sarcasm. Cranky’s making the analogy that some people have been triggered by Trump’s overheated rhetoric into going over the line – e.g. Cesar Sayoc down in Florida, the extreme Trump supporter, who sent mailbombs to liberals.

        Cranky isn’t blaming Trump for this idiot. He’s also not taking a political position on Trump, other than noting that Trump’s intemperate language has triggered at least one supporter into doing stupid things, the way that the mechanic union’s intemperate language has triggered this individual into doing something stupid.

        Unfortunately, people have only to see the word “Trump” to be triggered into making all kinds of unwarranted assumptions. You guys made all kinds of unwarranted assumptions in that regard.

        1. Good going enplaned, I couldn’t say it better. It’s not about Brett’s political views, rather it’s a comparison to the way “some” Trump supporters react to those who disagree with them.

          If this guy is found guilty of any charges he needs to be placed behind bars & I’m saying that as someone who is very pro union. There’s no reason to do something dangerous to make a point.

        2. @enplaned

          I guess you missed the part in the article where the mechanic said “the dispute had affected him financially.”

          I think that you could agree that being hurt FINANCIALLY will make someone act out much quicker and more dramatically than anyone’s rhetoric (See English taxation as a cause of the Revolutionary War as an example).

          We read this blog for airline information and analysis and NOT political commentary.

          There is NO reason CF needed to include that term. The article would have stood on it’s own without it or with a different NON-political comment.

          1. Hey, it’s Cranky’s blog. He’s free to express things as he pleases. You’re free to read, or not.

          2. He said he was being hurt financially, but we have no way right now to know if that statement was true or not. either way a crime was committed & the legal system now is taking over.

          3. Sensitive much? The analogy works fine, because it is something that’s top of mind. Some of the men behind the recent mass shootings quoted Trump and his rhetoric as their reason for the attack… just like this guy quoted the union’s concerns about a contract as the reason for his attack. That’s not being political, that’s comparing two recent events and how rhetoric can be dangerous. That doesn’t make it political. Instead of overreacting to the use of Trump’s name in a story, why don’t you look at the context.

          4. Start your own blog if you don’t like Cranky’s choice of words. Or ask for a refund for your subscription fee you paid to Brett. Oh, wait…

            I find it amusing that a word like “Trumpian” triggers such a reaction when the person referenced by it spends a significant portion of his work day tweeting out insults each and every day. Ridiculous.

        3. And if anything, the union should complain to be compared to the current inmate of 1600 Penn Ave.

          Trumpian is becoming a generic term like xerox or google.

        4. Enplaned–

          Imagine being so fragile that the mere thought of Trump being maligned sets your hair on fire.

          Let ’em clutch their pearls; CF’s comparison (and yours to Sayoc) are dead on.

          1. Kevin,
            imagine being so committed to leftist theology that you can’t understand that the problem is not WHICH SIDE of the aisle you pick but that discussion of ANY SIDE of the aisle is what the vast majority of people said here in response to the use of a single word.

            words matter.

            And you still have not bothered, like many others, to address the real issue which is AA’s bloated cost structure which is the root of why the AA-labor talks have stalled, even if AA wants to say they are offering competitive increases w/o noting that they are asking for the (necessary but labor-destructive) ability to remove tens of thousands of jobs.

            Please focus on the reason why the talks are stalled and, as AA notes, what has to happen to fix AA.

            The fact that you, the left and the right start foaming at the mouth at the mention of a single word shows why you and most of the responses to this blog post indicated the failure to correctly choose words that derailed the discussion from its intended purpose – because politics really wasn’t what made CF a sought after site.

    2. thank you. It’s not like the thugs in Portland or other places are following Trump.

      Stick to aviation and leave the politics out of it, CF, regardless of your political bent. There are sick people of all political persuasions

      This fool acted on his own and no one has yet to provide any evidence that he acted on behalf of or in the stead of anyone else or any other organization.

    3. Thank you Boyd, I was thinking the same way. Ordinarily, I enjoy reading Brett’s various articles and find them to be interesting and insightful. However, that comment left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. There’s no way that this particular mechanic has anything in common with Trump and he would appear to have little in common with most Trump supporters. Of course we don’t know that, do we. Therefore, why even bring it up?

      The comment was gratuitous, unnecessary and very disappointing.

      1. However, that comment left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. There’s no way that this particular mechanic has anything in common with Trump and he would appear to have little in common with most Trump supporters.

        This has nothing to do with Trump supporters, but of course you already knew that by the way you composed your comment. I do wonder what part of Brett’s comments left a bad taste in your mouth. (no sarcasm.)

    4. So the response to one word (seriously, one word) is to go on your own rant?

      It’s an accurate adjective to use, the president is a populist, and he’s rather proud of his ability to rally people. Some of those people have gotten carried away in fairly high-profile ways, just as this mechanic seems to have gotten carried away by union leadership. The value judgment is really on the mechanic who took things much farther than the union would have every wanted, just as the value judgment in the former case is on the Trump supporter who goes and does something Trump wouldn’t condone. Trumpian doesn’t mean “caused by Trump”, and it’s pretty clear that’s not how CF means it.

      1. Thank you! I think the people who are so angry stopped reading when they saw that word and didn’t bother to think about what was being said before they reacted.

    5. A review of CF posts shows that the most popular posts have been those about Delta and Narita/Haneda. AA posts in general have had fairly high page views – but that is also true of anything remotely contentious about the big 4.

      Problem for CF is that Delta resolved the Haneda/Narita access issue with the most access to HND among US carriers so Godzilla is out of work – unless CF repurposes him to another airline. AA and HA have still yet to decide their plans, so maybe there is hope, but as I note, the chances are high than they, like DL, will decide that NRT doesn’t make sense economically or strategically to maintain. CF just happened to have a 10 year long field day talking about DL’s plans to abandon NRT and the people have jumped on the topic in force. The best part – from a blogger’s perspective – is that CF teed up the discussion and the commenters fought among themselves. CF was the winner.

      Now, CF is trying to figure out how to top the popularity of the DL/NRT/HND posts and there ain’t much on the horizon that offers comparable levels of interest among commenters. Problem is that NRT/HND/DL WAS about the airline industry; Trumpian verbiage is not. The results of this discussion show that the original intent of the discussion was lost on those that said they would stop reading and those that called others “pearl clutching.” Suddenly, the focus of the readers turned against CF. Bad juju.

      Everything in life has a season. CF needs to figure out how to get the top of the chart page views that the DL/NRT/HND discussions generated while getting the commenters fired up among themselves rather than at him.

      Give him time. He’ll figure it out.

    1. I dont think he should treat those readers as special snowflakes that have to be protected from launguage, and what words mean. Those readers are intelligent and have dictionaries, and know how to use them.

      1. Oh yes, like the special snowflakes who are constantly offended by anything traditional to the point where the term “latino” is offensive. But they invent new words that you MUST use, such as latinX. Surely, those are the people you’re referring to because they’re offended by any and everything.

        1. Like Outer Space Guy said, special snowflake… thanks for proving his point & it’s not winter yet.

    2. Offensive? Did he call somebody a p**** a** b****? LOL
      Carry on Cranky, right on trend. Bless our hearts, we’re WAAAAAY off topic.

  2. I don’t understand what a “trumpian way” is. I found your article to be on point, and would add as a 30 year AAL mechanic, this is the first time I have ever heard of an act of sabotage, it’s unthinkable.

    1. Great article CF.
      The comment that the mechanic may have been swept up in a Trumpian way” made complete sense in this context. Very strange some readers are hung up on that. Anyway, thanks.

      1. Matt, define “Trumpian way”, A few people will agree with you. That is the problem.Very strange.

  3. I can think of three fatal crashes where blocked pito tubes were major factors. So no way could that mechanic be sure it would be noticed before the aircraft took off. The guy should go straight to prison for a very long time!!

  4. There are some basic management questions in all of this.

    First, who is supervising the mechanics? Why signed off on the “repair” and the airworthiness of the plane? If the mechanic did, he needs to go to prison for many, many years as an example to others who would do things to disable aircraft. This is lunacy.

    Second, while Doug Parker and his Management team bear no responsibility for the specific act, they do bear responsibility for the animosity between labor and management here. The short-term goal of American should and MUST be to make labor peace and find some common ground with the two sides. Ultimately, labor relations is an issue of how Management is managing labor’s perceptions.

    1. I tend to think Parker and his crew have hit their Peter principle limit – AA got to a level where it’s so big they can’t scale to grasp it. They did a great job at America West, they far outperformed at US Airways relative to the assets they had, but the combination of US + AA is just something they’ve never gotten on top of, and at this point it seems like maybe someone else ought to try.

      That said, the double-headed mechanics union seems to be a creature from h&ll. There’s a long history of mechanics unions going haywire in this industry, whether going all the way back to Eastern in the 80s or AMFA at Northwest in 2005.

      1. Thats very possible, and the reality is merging organizations of that size is really tough, and when you look at the mergers. You have delta who merged under Richard Anderson who is one of the greats of the airline industry, UAL struggled until Scott kirby who was formally Doug Parkers partner at AAL, I don’t think its a coincident that AAL started degrading soon after Kirby and Parker broke up. I personally suspect that Kirby was in charge of the operational AAL, formally us airways, and before that america west. It seems to me that doug alone is simply not capable of holding this mess together and without someone else who he can truly work with its a mess. I think what AAL needs is not new planes, it needs new leadership.

  5. A microcosm of what Trump & his creatures are doing to the entire country. And the folks who are shocked-shocked-that anyone, even someone who probably doesn’t want to, should dare to mention the poison Trump has injected into the body politic….well, I’m sure that there were a lot of Good People in mid 20th century Europe that just wanted to ignore the rhetoric the Leaders used to stir up the mob then, too.

  6. I think their are two people responsible for this heinous crime. The mechanic, who should go to prison for a very long time. And Doug Parker. The buck stops with him, and he is responsible for letting this dispute with the mechanics drag on so long. If he’s not careful he’ll let it destroy the airline. Just two short years ago he invested millions in training employees to Elevate the Everyday Experience. He still preaches Elevate but has enacted policies that make it incredibly difficult to to do. He still preaches that you have to take care of employees first and employees will take care of the customers, but the policies he enacts over and over tell me he doesn’t really believe that, that he doesn’t really care about us. I no longer believe him. Doug cares about Doug, and Doug cares about profits. What he hasn’t figured out is that more and more it looks like he’s profit driven in ways that aren’t sustainable and will be the death of the airline. It’s what drives employees to unthinkable, inexcusable, unacceptable thungs like this one.

  7. Loved it! One word, and off we go!

    I didn’t take your use of the word as being that political.

    I read it as reference to something behavior-like, as Truman-esque, Wilson-ian, or Jefferson-ian, Crandall-esque, this one referring to someone having arrogance, boastfulness, narcissism, lacking an ability to show empathy, unable to admit being wrong, willing to blame others for his or her mistakes. (Maybe just spell it with a small “t.)

    The life of a Cranky-esque airline blogger!

  8. It is said that what should be a solid discussion about a very serious issue is turned into an argument because of the flippant use of one word.

    Let’s get a clue here, folks. People have been mouthing long before Trump became Prez. Social media has fostered the mindset that the rest of the world cares what other people think about politics, what you had for dinner, and what silly tricks your dog has done today.

    This discussion has nothing to do with politics or anyone in a non-FAA or FBI role in Washington.

    What is being lost in this discussion is that this person was employed by both American and Alaska – including, according to AS, being on the clock for both AA and AS at the same time. AS also documented multiple instances of errors in performing his job with associated documentation – and apparently a 30 day suspension of a license – by the FAA.

    Thus, the question is why AA did not find out about his errors and also did not fire him when it was found that he was defrauding the company – and, at the least which they should have known – placed him on careful supervision.

    And, finally, he was supposedly a hangar mechanic who worked nights and he did a double working on the line.

    There were lots of red flags that should have been seen. It is the company – not the union and not anyone else’s responsibility to have figured that stuff out.

    In the midst of very serious questions about the integrity of AA’s maintenance program, those questions deserve to be answered instead of dragging politics or even the insinuation of it into a discussion where it does not belong. Failure to answer those questions is what is bad for AA.

    As for fixing it, the answer is overstaffing with AA employing tens of thousands of employees more than its peers DL and UA that generate about the same amounts of revenue; the merger involved putting together two companies that were far larger than the revenue that should be generated by that number of employees. AA will continually underperform the industry in earnings or it can take the steps necessary to cut its costs.

    I’d be more than open to hear how AA can get rid of tens of thousands of workers other than in bankruptcy.

    1. AA overstaffing is a direct result of the company’s actions. Our pension was frozen in 2003, we lost our retire medical which forces us to work till 65 and the failure of the company to negotiate a contract as promised. A lot of Technicians have already waited 4 years for a agreement their not going to retire and possibly lose a buyout at this point.

      1. since the company is the only one that hires people, it is SOLELY responsible for staffing levels.
        Yes, many people have had to stick around because of compensation cuts which has inflated staffing levels – but AA has still hired people including in TUL and DFW where it has grown operations, even while being overstaffed on a system level.

        AA’s post 9/11 financial problems can be traced directly to its out court restructuring attempt of 2003 which did not cut costs enough, left the company vulnerable to lower cost rivals – low cost carriers and legacy carriers that went through chapter 11, and lost market share including in NYC which continues to this day at the cost of valuable corporate revenue across AA’s system.

        Doug Parker knew the overstaffing situation when he tried to save USAirways via an American acquisition and we have now witnessed 5 years of AA’s deteriorating finances – with labor being blamed far too much for a situation that was set up by management.

        There is very little likelihood that AA can get its labor costs down to industry comparable levels outside of bankruptcy and a messy in-court fight w/ labor; the guaranteed continueed infighting between mgmt. and labor – esp. among a combined group of mechanics and rampers – will alienate customers. The prospects for an AA turnaround are slim.

        But, again, AA’s mgmt. failures as well as labor displeasure and discord can never be used as an excuse to sabotage an aircraft.

  9. You write — “swept up in a very Trumpian way” – just what in hell do you mean by that?

  10. What’s so fascinating about the word “Trumpian” (apart from the mild amusement I get in seeing his supporters get so offended by it’s use) is that the word has been around for DECADES, with it’s meaning evolving in-line with his public persona. Trumpian didn’t come around in this election. Oh no, this is a word that has existed since the 80s. Similar to words like Balkanization, etc., it summarizes what’s occurring at that moment in time and characterizes it quite nicely.

    A little history….

    quote from Dictionary dot com
    The term Trumpian is found as early as 1988 in an issue of Yachting magazine, where a reviewer, calling up Donald Trump’s 1987 The Art of the Deal, describes Dennis Conner’s book The Art of Winning as being “well within a Trumpian vein.” The next year, an issue of Sports Illustrated called small, charming villages that the Tour de Trump bike race ran through as being “as un-Trumpian as Montgomery Ward,” an American retail catalog and department store.

    Alluding to Donald Trump’s growing and sensational celebrity status, a 1990 example of this term referenced “Trumpian headlines in the tabloids.” In the early 1990s, Trumpian especially characterized large-scale business failures (“a Trumpian tumble”) or financial woes (“Trumpian debt”), alluding to the real estate mogul’s own difficulties at the time. These early uses figure Trumpian as “excessive” or “ostentatious,” alluding to Donald Trump’s notoriously bombastic personality and aggressive, grandiose approach to doing business.
    -end quote

    As for those who only took one thing away from this article (Brett’s use of “Trumpian”), I only have one thing to say.

    Thanks, Obama.

    1. The fact that yours and most other replies on here have absolutely nothing to do with the AA sabotage situation are why the comment should have been left out, regardless of any political meaning or insinuation.

      And, using your own definition, how does describe what the mechanic did?

      And the bigger questions of how this was allowed to occur and if it was connected to anything else- which is all the FAA and FBI need to understand – remain unanswered.

      THAT is why a single word derailed what SHOULD HAVE BEEN an important discussion.

      1. Trumpian, in this context, is a reference to the negotiating rhetoric of the mechanics union, as opposed to a description of what the mechanic did.

        Do you get it now?

        1. sorry, but it doesn’t work.
          Individuals don’t negotiate in a COLLECTIVE BARGAINING arrangement.

  11. AA unions have ruined a good airline. Think about over the past 20 years and see how they have ruined the industry. They never seem to get or have enough aa they drive AA ( and others ) into bankruptcy. Remember these unions embraced Parker and team and now vilify them. The issues are two unions that cannot get on the same page. An embarrassment to the good people of AA.

    1. In your vilification of the unions, you might ask yourself how Parker thought he would generate industry-comparable margins with tens of thousands more employees than DAL and UAL, which were the two megamergers Parker said that AAL needed to match w/ the American/USAirways merger.

      Unions might do bad things but the “need” to merger AA and US resulted in a compromised business plan that could not have generated revenues comparable to Delta and United despite having tens of thousands more employees.

      AAL is STILL #3 across the Atlantic and Pacific and is engaged in an endless exercise in swapping out year round service to key European business markets for seasonal service.
      AAL has had to cancel 2 routes to China so far and says they are closely watching their HKG service because events there are putting further pressure on margins.
      S. America is struggling again, even after AA pulled a lot of capacity out of the region in the last downturn.

      Labor was put in a difficult spot by the merger – two very different compensation philosophies, too many employees for the amount of revenue.

      The toxic labor climate spills over into people’s personal lives. The vast majority of people understand the line between what is legal and what is not only illegal but counter to one’s own profession. This guy did not.

      The difference between AA”s labor problems and this guy’s actions need to be made very clear.

      Fixing both needs to happen – but no one should try to argue they are related in anything but this criminal’s mind.

  12. Brett why would you feel the need to use the term “trumpian”? While trying to slam President Trump you are showing your own divisiveness. Stick to talking about airplanes and stay out of politics. That’s why people read your stuff. Do you really want to disenfranchise a segment of your readers? Gmafb

  13. I think that many of the comments today prove what Boyd and I said earlier.

    You just have to ask yourself two questions.

    1. Did the use of “a very Trumpian way” lead to a clearer understanding to the article? Answer – No

    2. Could the article been written without that comment and without losing any context? Answer – Yes

    For clear and concise writing, I refer to Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Syle”
    Here is what they say:

    The Elements of Style, concentrates on specific questions of usage—and the cultivation of good writing—with the recommendation “Make every word tell”; hence the 17th principle of composition is the simple instruction: “Omit needless words.”

    Those were needless words!

  14. I hope you realize that your bringing politics into this, and I think, other threads will turn some of your readers off. I realize that the west coast and the northeast are primarily Democratic but please don’t make the same mistake as the Democratic party, and forget about how the rest of the country feels.
    As a long time reader I hope that you will continue to write interesting and informative Aviation based articles, and keep the poetics out of it.
    Thank-you for understanding.
    John Bonsall

  15. How about the Muslim mechanic brought the American public to near-fatal danger right before the biggest terrorist attack to hit our nation? Trumpian?
    Well, your blog isn’t that good anyway. Adios!

  16. So was it worth it, Brett?
    12+ hours, 44 responses, 3300 page views, and a handful of people that said they would ditch your site.

    And more than 90% of the responses have nothing to do with the sabotage incident.

    Lesson learned?
    Don’t squander your valuable name in politics or even the insinuation of it unless that is how you want to earn your money.

    We expect better later this week… maybe as soon as tomorrow?

    1. ‘We expect better later this week” – speak for yourself.

      This thread has been a depressingly hilarious (to use an oxymoron) example of the way in which people get triggered. There’s nothing political in Brett’s language at all – the fact that 90% of responses do not address the primary content of the article (which is a shocking example of what any individual can lower themselves to do) merely underlines how incapable American (and British) society is at having reasoned, informed, nuanced debate and discussion about anything – pathetic, flag-waving, reactionary outpourings of outrage when anyone dares to criticise one’s base beliefs? Greta Thunberg has nothing to worry about – we will tear ourselves apart even before the planet finally gives up on us.

      Keep going, Brett – when you get this level of response you know that you’re doing something right.

      1. unless this thread was intended to be a political statement, it failed at stimulating conversation about the very topic of sabotage that was intended – specifically because you note that 90% of the replies did not address that issue.

        Brett may or may not have intended to bring politics into the discussion or not but the world we live in is one of hair-trigger reaction and that is precisely because of social media and blogging that allows people to state their personal views. CF lives because of the power of the internet; he can’t complain when that power reveals sensitivities that he may or may not have realized.

        and, yes, CF is thankfully moving on. I think I saw an article about Spirit on the home page Haven’t read it yet but it seems focused on the nature of the airline industry which is what people said over and over in replying to this article that they come to CF to read.

        1. Tim, I’ve seen your name here dozens upon dozens of times here in the comments of various CF posts, and generally find you one of the more enjoyable, informed, and well-reasoned commenters. So at the risk of dragging this quibble over a single word out further, why do you think the fact that the new Spirit article indicates that he is “moving on”, or even that this article indicated any sort of fixation?

          He’s always been pretty open that the blog is driven by his interests, and him posting another article in line with his interests doesn’t indicate that the complaints have successfully pushed him to “not talk politics” to me, just that, well, he didn’t have a political motivation to begin with and reply number 1 jumped onto a single word and derailed the conversation pretty much from the outset. You can like or hate that one word, but frankly we turn people into adjectives all the time (people have referred to some of Trump’s mistakes as “Obama-esque”, and certainly no one is seriously arguing that Obama is the first person to end up in a job a little light on the related experience and made mistakes). It seems like an odd line to draw and attach political motivation to, especially when there is such a substantial event to discuss instead.

          1. It should be pretty clear that the use of the term “Trumpian” completely derailed what should have been a worthwhile and needed discussion about the sabotage of an American aircraft – and the bigger question which CF raised – how to fix AA – remains completely unaddressed.

            My comments about the use of the word are not because of taking sides against the “man babies” or “performance outrage” but because the intent of the post has been completely lost to a discussion about politics and alignment with it.

            CF might have not intended to drag politics into the discussion at all but communicators can’t control how people interpret what you say or write if you bring political insinuations into the discussion.

            CF can decide what he wants to do about this speculator failure of addressing the topic at hand at the foot of politics; as noted above, this is his blog.

            My statement remains that, unless one wants to make your living in the political discussion arena, you are better off not discussing or even inferring politics in a non-political discussion. That reality existed before the current occupant of 1600 Penn. and will outlast him or whoever else follows.

            and the SAVE article is classically why people come to CF.

  17. It’s rather sad that a very serious issue got sidetracked by a few people who wanted to make it about politics.

  18. CF–

    I sincerely hope you ignore these man-babies and their self righteous indignation. IMO, just as Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has moved people to act, so too has Samuelson’s.

  19. I am a faithful reader of this blog, will remain so, and hope to get out to a geek fest someday.

    That being said, this is example #1 million of why its highly risky to delve into politics unless your career or business requires it. You piss off half your client base, and for what gain? High risk, little if any reward.

    I read the comment,shook my head, its an unforced error, lets move along, Hoping its not a regular deal going forward.

    For now, NBD. Love this blog, hope to still be reading it a long time from now

  20. As soon as I saw Trump in the article I knew what was going to happen. His blind supporters who can’t acknowledge his non-stop lying and complete incompetence are pathetic.

    Are they still boycotting the NFL?

    As for the mechanic, there is no way he should ever be allowed to work on aircraft again.

      1. good thing, that on 2 of your 3 counts, I am not a right winger.

        I did watch one of the best minutes of professional NFL ever on Monday night between two Gulf Coast rivals.

        and, Kev, what is your Rx for AA’s turnaround? CF did ask that question and the responses have been very sparse. Can you help us out?

  21. the mechanic acted in a TRUMPIAN what the h..does that mean>??? a;ways bringing in left sided politics into it…not PC or NICE

  22. I have somewhat enjoyed your postings in the past. Your current posting about “Trunpian ways” was uncalled for . I will be unsubscribing from your site immediately. MAGA

  23. Is it expedient to alienate a significant portion of your follower base with political assertions? I have always love reading what you have to say about our beloved industry, but this post has altered that somewhat. Since this thread has already created division, I find it interesting that nobody has yet brought up or publicly questioned the history or worldview of the saboteur. Wouldn’t the frustrating union negotiations be a good scapegoat excuse for a far greater (in his mind) mission?

  24. Dear Cranky,

    I’m outraged at you use of the word “Trumpian”. It’s a pathetic effort if it’s meant to be a slur aimed at the current President of the United States, given the extent of the horrible disaster his performance in this extremely critical office has been. In the future, please be more thorough.

  25. As far as I can tell, Brett has not responded to any of the comments. Why not make a statement of some kind even if it is to say “screw you I can say whatever I want”

    1. bjtrmoms – There has been no reason for me to respond. Other commenters have explained this and I felt no need to add further clarity. I was using the analogy to provide more context for what was going on here. As enplaned noted, the use of this term doesn’t mean being pro- or anti-Trump. It’s simply a way to explain the dynamic of what happens when someone crosses a line after hearing overheated rhetoric. Like it or not, that’s becoming a common way to explain the phenomenon. If this happened in response to soaring rhetoric, I could have called it Obama-esque. Or if it happened in response to folksy rhetoric, I could call it Reagan-esque. But that’s not what happened. I called it Trumpian and a very tiny percentage of my readers felt the need to comment about it. They’re welcome to do that even if it is completely beside the point of the article. But there’s little reason for me to bother responding.

      1. not a soul would have been confused about what you meant if you had used exactly the words you wrote above:

        “when someone crosses a line after hearing overheated rhetoric.”

        and the question you posed ” The hard part is figuring out what that might actually fix American.” might have some responses. I hope you pose that question again, free of any political leanings: left, right, center or of any other persuasion.

        btw, AAL stock was the biggest decliners among S&P 500 stocks today, the first trading day after the attack on Saudi a refinery/processing facility. AAL’s decline was double the percent of UAL, and 4X the decline of DAL. LUV pulled off a slight gain which clearly says that on a day in which investors focused on risk, AAL was to be avoided.

        AAL needs to fix its problems and it will be viewed as a risky, low margin investment until it does.

    2. Bjtrmoms–

      Why would CF have to answer to anyone? It’s his page- a point that seems to be lost on everyone who’s hair caught on fire over the last week.

  26. Cranky lives in California and works in media…no one should be shocked by his political leanings. This blog was refreshing to read as it didn’t have to interject politics when there was absolutely no reason to. Now that has changed. That’s why people are upset.

    It’s too bad needless political snarky comments have invaded his blog as it was nice to have one last vestige from the nonstop barrage. Hopefully Cranky can be more careful with his wording.

  27. A federal judge denied bail for the suspect mechanic and says they have evidence that he had made comments sympathetic to Islam.

    Prosecutors presented evidence that Alani — a naturalized American citizen from Iraq — has a brother with possible ties to ISIS and a history of statements wishing harm to non-Muslims.
    The judge said that Alani’s ability to travel abroad factored into her decision, and that “it is likely you will be convicted.”

    This case might not be about AA labor at all.

    1. I came here to post what you have above, Tim. We have a situation with the mechanic which may be bigger than the overheated rhetoric of the union leaders CF thought could have persuaded the individual to sabotage an airliner.

      The unforced error of inserting Trump or any politician, (hat tip to someone who commented earlier), was a needle scratch to me when reading the article on 9/9.

      This blog has been a wonderful read three days a week for me for many years. I have no ties to aviation but I find reading about industry to be interesting and relaxing. The responses to his posts almost always add nuance and insight and create a lively discussion. But not this one. It has been a been really disheartening to read so many people happy to say good bye and those happy to see them go.

    2. Tim – It was only a matter of time someone with a Middle Eastern name was tied to terrorism, sadly. But I can’t believe this was a terrorist act.
      This guy has been a mechanic for 30+ years. Forget that he likely would have already done something by now if he was motivated by terrorism and just focus on the basics. As a 30-year mechanic, he knows every piece of that airplane. If he wanted to do harm to people and crash an airplane, he wouldn’t have done this. He knew this would set off alarms in the cockpit and the plane wouldn’t end up flying. Even if it did, it wouldn’t bring the airplane down. It was meant to disrupt the operation, not kill people. If this is somehow proven to be motivated by terrorism, then this guy is a terrible terrorist. In this case, I’ll assume Occam’s Razor is correct.

      1. Whatever his motive was, he put the lives of scores of people at risk. That is criminally punishable. The US government has enough evidence to push the terrorism charge. It his goal was to carry water for the union, he should have made sure his personal political and religious views stayed out of it. Any reason is very serious and expose public risks that are unique to aviation and airline employees.

        It is no surprise that readers here have had a field day being diverted by a million side shows and neglected the heart of the issue when there are labor, religion, and political factors all involved.

        He might have been a poor terrorist or mechanic but the FAA has already pulled his licenses so his income has come to an end; given the judge’s comments, he may well spend the better part of his final years in a federal prison.

        1. Tim – That is incorrect. The judge simply denied bail because of the possibility of terror ties. There are no terrorism charges. Maybe that will change, but there is nothing indicating either way that there’s enough evidence exists to actually pursue those charges.

          1. There are no terrorism charges but the feds most definitely said (according to multiple media outlets) that they have enough evidence to believe terrorism might be involved.

            A week ago you were convinced this was action by a rogue labor activist. There is due process but it is naïve to pretend to consider all of the possibilities – including labor involvement or terrorism. Or he might be a confused person that had so many reasons he couldn’t figure out what really drove him.

            And it still doesn’t change that the guy will never touch another airplane and may spend the rest of his life behind bars.

            I’m not sure why there is a need to debate his motives until there is a trial but it is just as wrong to argue it is labor oriented w/o evidence than it is to argue it is terrorism.

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