24 October 2006
Airport eavesdropping
Brian Micklethwait
Dave Barry has a rather alarming Atlanta Airport Update today:
So I'm waiting to get on the plane, and the pilots arrive at the gate, and as they walk past, one of them says to the other - this is a direct quote - "Hey, it flew in, it'll fly out."
That's it. That's his entire posting. As I say, rather alarming.

I was a bit surprised that the RyanAir plane that took me home from Brest to Luton a few weeks back had just been taking a load of people from Luton to Brest. If the Luton to Brest bit was delayed, so was Brest back to Luton. No maintenance, and hardly any cleaning. I suppose they do enough maintenance for about five trips, at night.

image
That A380 image
When I was a kid, passenger airplanes were called "liners". Now an entire major airplane making enterprise comes straight out with it: they're buses. Here's an Airbus snap I took recently in Brittany, through the grubby window of a travel agency. And I've another Brittany transport picture here, along with a London duck, which is also for transport.

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  1. There are a few ways of operating that are characteristic of discount
    airlines. One of these is “rapid turnarounds”, meaning that they aim to
    land, taxi to the terminal, disembark the passengers, unload baggage,
    load baggage, embark passengers, taxi to the runway, and take off again.
    The best discount airlines can do all this in less than half an hour.
    Getting an extra flight or two a day out of the aircraft is worth a lot
    of money.

    Many of the other characteristic things about discount airlines are
    actually aimed at reducing turnaround time. Flying to non-central, less
    busy airports is often cheaper, but more importantly it is much easier
    to turn an aircraft around quickly at such places. Providing only
    overpriced food and drink makes money and cuts costs, but also reduces
    the time spent stocking the galley and removing rubbish from the
    aircraft. (You will notice also that cabin staff on Ryanair are quite
    zealous about taking your rubbish from you in flight so that it is
    already in a large rubbish bag when the plane reaches the destination).
    Charging extra to passengers who check baggage is very little about
    making money and very much about reducing the time it takes to load and
    unload the aircraft and also about reducing on-ground baggage handling
    costs. (The other dirty little secret that they don’t mention is that
    passengers who arrive at the gate late can be left behind if they
    haven’t checked luggage. If they have, then for security reasons the
    plane is not allowed to fly with their luggage on board, which means
    that the airline either has to wait for the passenger or remove the
    baggage before flying. Either of these things delays the flight).

    As you say, more thorough cleaning (and maintenance) are left for those
    times that the aircraft can’t be out making money. (ie between midnight
    and 6am).

    Ryanair is the discount airline model taken to its logical extreme. You
    will seldom see a company anywhere with as intense a focus onlow costs.
    It is an outrageously profitable company, it is very cheap to fly on,
    and shareholders have done extremely well. And it must be a truly awful
    company to work for.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on  24 October 2006 at 06:52 pm

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