Delta Connection/SkyWest flight 4449 scheduled to fly from Salt Lake City to Bozeman, Montana narrowly averted disaster when a lithium-ion battery exploded and caught fire in a passenger suitcase loaded in the cargo hold of the aircraft. Fortunately, the quick-thinking crew members smelled smoke just before the aircraft took off — halting the flight and triggering a search of the cargo bay, which quickly revealed an exploded lithium-ion battery in a toiletry bag.
Kudos to @Delta ground crew in Salt Lake for saving the day (and us). They smelled fire in cargo – unloaded bags and discovered this. If we had taken off … #Thankful As the pilot said, we owe them pic.twitter.com/HMnoEg1AcU
“We are proud of the quick work of our ground crew who recognized and helped extinguish a bag containing a lithium-ion battery that began overheating inside the cargo hold during the loading process of SkyWest flight 4449 operating as Delta Connection from Salt Lake City to Bozeman, Mont. The situation underscores the importance of removing lithium-ion batteries from checked or gate-checked luggage.”
The FAA recommends that any devices containing lithium-ion batteries be kept in carry-on bags — not checked in gate-checked luggage.
Unfortunately, as the upward trend in incidents shows, we can expect more such battery explosions and fires in the future. As a 2016 FAA safety alert pointed out, “FAA battery fire testing has highlighted the potential risk of a catastrophic aircraft loss due to damage resulting from a lithium battery fire or explosion.”
As veteran pilot and airline safety consultant John Cox points out about lithium-ion battery incidents, “It’s one of the few rising risks in aviation.”
Joseph claims the Flight Attendants turned a blind eye.
So flight staff walks by numerous times without saying anything, and I’m irate, because no black person would ever get away with this shit. So I start looking at the staff noting that there is an issue. You know, giving them the snitch eye…
Joseph said he took the matter into his own hands.
So finally I decide to say something to the woman myself. So I say ‘ma’am, I’m trying to eat, and your feet are next to my food.’ She says ‘what do you want me to do, the seats are small.’
The seats in Economy Class are, indeed, tiny. However, the woman doesn’t sound, from his telling, like the most understanding of humans.
Joseph says the next part of the conversation went like this:
So I’m like ‘I understand, which is why there is room for your feet and legs under the seat in front of you’ So she says ‘this is why I fly first class, and I don’t come back here with everyone else.’ So I’m like that’s great, so are you going to put your feet down?’
This is why I fly First Class?
So what, pray, might you be doing slumming it out back?
Next, he says, the woman called over a Flight Attendant.
She says to the flight attendant ‘this man is disrupting my flight, I’m just trying to be comfortable’ So I point at her feet and explain my stance.
The next part becomes truly bewildering.
The flight attendant says… ‘well what if she puts her feet closer to the window or puts one down’ The woman says ‘if I put one foot down, I want to be accommodated for accommodating him’
Can this really be? Can such a woman really be that much of a bastion of privilege that she has this level of audacity? And can a Flight Attendant really have attempted to split hairs by offering a one-legged compromise?
Now for the blowing of the mind.
So the flight attendant speaks to the person in-charge on the plane and they give promise this woman a f****** $1000 voucher … ONE.THOUSAND. DOLLAR.
Many might want this story to be an invention. They might want this story not to be true because, if it is, what hope is there?
I certainly have my doubts.
Can it really be that a woman would be offered a $1,000 voucher in exchange for behaving with basic decency? Or might the Flight Attendant have simply been trying to dupe her into decency?
I asked United and will update, should the airline get back to me.
Still, Joseph claims that he asked to be accommodated too.
So I ask ‘what voucher will I be receiving for my suffering’ The flight attendant says ‘sir, we can only make but so many accommodations, and she has agreed to move her feet for you.’
The accuracy of all this isn’t certain. But the picture of the woman’s foot isn’t a great look.
In the meantime, Joseph said that he tried to explain to United’s customer service.
Now I’m on the phone trying to explain how problematic this all was to a white woman in customer service who doesn’t get my issue.
What’s problematic about all this is that such stories have become, for many people, instantly believable.
On the day that a Flight Attendant told a woman to put her dog up in the overhead bin, almost anything to do with an airline becomes believable.
Isn’t this like putting a dog in the trunk of your car?
She added: “The owner had an infant and other daughter. Causing a scene before flight could risk being kicked off the flight. I can only imagine she felt stuck in her decision to comply, she told People.
The dog’s owner, said Gremminger, was left in agony.
“A stranger offered to hold her newborn while she sat on the floor, there in the airplane aisle. She was holding her dog and rocking back and forth. Her daughter was also crying,” said Gremminger.
For its part, United seems to accept blame.
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again,” a United spokeswoman told me.
While flying has never been statistically safer than it is today, you always constantly run the risk that storms, snow, or even mechanical difficulties can throw all your travel plans out of whack. And when you’ve flown as often as I have, you learn to pick up a few tricks about how to make the best of a bad situation.
1. Never check a bag. Never.
I know this rule might be easier for follow for men than women. But when you’re packing for a trip, do whatever you can to travel light where you can at least put a bag in the overhead bin of a plane. I’ve traveled for two weeks in Asia using a single bag, so I know it can be done. You can even “gate-check” your bag–which is normal if you travel on small regional jets–because they will bring you bag right up to the gate. But if you check a bag through to your destination, you might be in trouble if your flight gets delayed or canceled because you bag won’t be with you, which makes it harder to change flights if you need.
That’s why even if I am headed to a trade show, I’ll ship everything I’ll need–like a booth, materials, and books–to my hotel ahead of time so that I can be flexible when flying. I’ll also pre-print my shipping labels so that after the event is over, I can just send everything back before I get on my flight.
Again, checking a bag means you have fewer options if you run into issues on your flight.
2. Stock up.
One thing I also do when I’m packing for a trip is to throw a couple of protein bars in my bag. That’s my emergency stash in case I am running through the airport and don’t have time to grab a bite to eat. Or, if a flight is late enough where the restaurants in the airport have closed, at least I know I have something to fill my stomach. I’ll also buy a bottle of water before I board a plan. The goal is to avoid becoming “hangry” and dehydrated–especially in case you get stuck inside the plan waiting on the tarmac.
II. Watch For Warning Signs
3. Check the weather.
A day or so before you’re scheduled to fly, start checking the weather at your home airport, your destination–and areas in between. What people might not realize is that your flight could be delayed or even cancelled because the plane you were supposed to fly on isn’t able to make it to your airport. If you’re flying to Chicago from DC and you know there is a snowstorm in New York, the chances that your flight might be delayed go up substantially.
4. Look at the departure board on the way in.
Before you even leave to head to the airport, check the departures for your airport online. Make sure that you’re not seeing a lot of delayed or cancelled flights as that means your flight is likely to be affected to. Continue to check the information even after you get to the airport as a way to keep informed about what might happen to your flight.
5. Look for your plane.
After you get through security and head toward the gate your flight is scheduled to leave out of, walk up to the windows and look to see if your plane is at the end of the jet bridge. If the plane isn’t there, the risk is that your plane got held up somewhere else. If your plane still isn’t there and your flight is scheduled to leave in 45 minutes or less, you can pretty much bet your flight is going to be delayed because the crew can’t turn the plane around any faster than that.
III. Take Action
6. Book your hotel room.
Every airline will try and avoid canceling a flight at all costs. But that could mean they could keep delaying a flight for hours until finally waving the white flag and canceling it. When that happens you want to be prepared and ahead of the game. That’s why as soon as you see that your flight has been delayed, you should use your smartphone to make an online reservation at a nearby hotel. Make sure that it’s the kind of reservation you can cancel without penalty. The point is that if the airline does finally cancel the flight, you don’t have to worry about having a place to stay that night–or to fight everyone else on the flight for a room. While airlines will book a hotel room for stranded travelers, experienced flyers are willing to pay for a better room closer to the airport than where the airline will send you. I will keep my reservation active all the way until I actually get on the plane. Only when I’m in my seat, and the attendant closes the door, will I actually cancel my reservation
7. Find an alternate route.
Once I know my flight is delayed, especially if it’s due to weather, I will also start thinking about alternate ways I can get to my destination–especially if it’s a meeting or appointment I can’t afford to miss. Based on what’s happening with the weather, it can make sense to drive to another nearby airport that is clear of the weather and fly to your destination from there. If you’re in Chicago, for example, it might make sense to drive to St. Louis and fly. Or, if you’re in New York, to drive to Philadelphia or DC and fly. While this might seem extreme, driving a few hours to help ensure you get to where you need to be can be a better use of your time than just waiting around in the airport.
8. Skip the line, pick up the phone.
If you have decided to wait out the delay only to hear the announcement that they have canceled the flight, pick up your phone and call your airline directly to rebook your trip rather than go stand in line with everyone else. You’ll likely get serviced much more quickly–especially if you have a Platinum, Gold, or equivalent status with your airline.
9. Don’t yell at the Customer Service Rep
Last point, try to keep calm and not take out your frustrations on the customer service agents or flight attendants who are trying to help you deal with the delay. Even if you start yelling at them, chances are you’re not going to get to your destination any faster.
If you follow these tips, you’ll make the most out of what can be a terrible experience from a travel delay.
It sounds like a cheap way to feel a touch of status.
You can prance down the gangway with all the people who have Premier Gold, Star Alliance Gold, Premier Silver, Star Alliance Silver, Customers who have purchased Premier Access, United MileagePlus Explorer, Club, Presidential Plus and Awards Cardmembers.
Yes, all of them.
I mentioned on Saturday that one of the main reasons for wanting to get on board early is to get some overhead bin space, preferably near your seat.
I didn’t think, however, that United would advertise it that way.
Oh, but what do I see, if not View From The Wing presenting a United ad for the new fee that reads: “Get onboard and to the overhead bins faster.”
You don’t want to be caught being told that there’s no more overhead bin space and you have to check your bag, do you?
That’ll add to your travel time, as you wait for the bag to come off in baggage claim.
And what are the other benefits of getting on the plane earlier? Sitting down in your seat and being able to watch others strain to get to theirs?
So here is United realizing that there’s one more thing that passengers used to take for granted and can now be charged for.
Partly, of course, this fee has been created by passengers themselves.
They insist on dragging too many bags that are too large onto the plane. They have no care for their fellow humans.
But there’s an even more haunting aspect to United’s new Overhead Bin, I mean Priority Boarding, fee.
United describes the price in its ad as “from $9 per traveler.”
The airline could decide to raise this fee in accordance with, well, whatever its computers believe it can get away with.