Monday, April 21, 2014

Boy hitches ride in airplane’s wheel well…other airlines “Contemplating similar service”

April 21, 2014

A sixteen year old boy, frustrated after a family argument,  did what any rational human being would do…he stowed away on a Hawaiian Airlines flight in the planes’ wheel well. The flight which originated in San Jose, California and which landed in Maui was apparently sold out and landed without incident…other than having the boy fall out of the well at the gate. Critics immediately questioned security measures by both the airline and the airport but the most vocal criticism came from the airline industry itself. Said a representative of a competing airline who asked to not be named: “This is simply unacceptable. While we are all business partners, the airline association welcomes innovation, but typical protocol is to alert the partner airlines ahead of time so we can all gouge the customer equally. In This case Hawaiian air “Acted on their own”. That said we fully intend to offer our own “Stow away fares”.

Other airlines were quick to follow citing the incident as “Another example of how the industry tries to meet customer needs…like when we started charging for checked bags”.  One airline has already posted on their webpage “Fares so low you’ll think you’d be riding in the wheel well…which you would be actually”. The fare is known as “Gear-Class”. Another airline acknowledged considering ways to also “upcharge” for the front wheel well and possibly offering other options as well. Said a source who asked to remain anonymous, “I wouldn’t rule out a fare that utilizes the bathroom, in some cases where the people are slight in stature…the overhead bin could come into play.” One airline had instructed its maintenance crew to begin to retrofit the pet cargo area in “Anticipation of a flurry of people willing to travel like animals”. Their spokesman explained. “They do so now in the cabin, if they could save a few bucks and sit below…why not offer that option?”

For their part Hawaiian air is downplaying all of the attention saying in a prepared statement: “Hawaiian Air is first and foremost concerned with the safety of our passengers. In this case, the young man took a very serious risk as he did not officially check-in for the flight and now may be further scrutinized by security officials. We hope in the future, he books his flights on line”.

Critics are concerned the new “Stow-Away” concept could carry over to other transportation options. Rebecca Howsy from Citizens Require Adequate Planes or C.R.A.P.; “What’s next? People riding on the top of Amtrak??” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx downplayed that risk. “Nobody rides Amtrak so we don’t think that is a real danger now or…ever.