Monday, March 30, 2015

Who's responsible for the Germanwings crash? You'll be surprised.

James Fallows of The Atlantic quotes "Adam Shaw, who has had a varied and interesting career as a writer and flyer and now leads an aerobatics team in Europe," on the causes of the Germanwings suicide/mass murder/crash last week. It includes this line:
And when people start looking for whom to blame, the answer is simple: Joe-six-pack who wanted a $99 flight from New York to L.A, or Pierre Baguette who wanted a 65-euro Paris-Casablanca … and the cynical bean counters who make this possible
"Joe Six-Pack's" fault? It is to laugh. Unless Joe's carrying on a six-pack of medium-priced Burgundy.

What about the expense-account business-class travelers (with six- or seven-figure frequent flyer mile totals) the airlines depend on for their bread and butter?

Or several generations of corporate union-busting directed against the people on the front lines of airline safety?

Or the next-quarter's-profits-obsessed, bonus-driven CEOs (who wouldn't dream of flying  commercial anyway)?

Yes, although the lowest-bidder fixation is a safety (and service) problem in the airline industry (just as it is throughout America's transportation infrastructure, public education, the food industry, etc.; but let's press ahead), to blame the problem on the customers who fly a couple of times a year and understandably don't want to pay a month's rent to do so is silly.

In fairness, Shaw's reply, which apparently came to Fallows as comment on an earlier post by the latter rather than as a publication in its own right, seems primarily focused on the pressures faced by commercial pilots to get flight hours and certification. So perhaps the culprit here is the copy editor for The Atlantic's web page, who skimmed over the bulk of Shaw's message to seize upon the thoughtless and proportionless -- but very click-baity -- "Joe Six-Pack" line, elevating it to the tag line for the entire Fallows post.

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