Six Nominees for Worst 2009 Airline Employee
Tips for avoiding drunk pilots and ensuring kids get to their destination.
June 24, 2009 — -- You enter the airplane and there's the pilot, welcoming you aboard … except he seems to be a little, um, unsteady. What to do?
First, let me note for the record that the vast majority of airline and airport employees are terrific people who work very hard to keep us safe. It's just that, since I chronicled the antics of the worst passengers of the year last month, it was only fair to look at some candidates for the worst employee and we have some doozies.
Anyway, I've been collecting stories -- but keep in mind that the situations I'm about to recount are isolated incidents in the extreme. Some of these people are also just alleged to have done these acts but are included here because -- if proven true -- their actions qualify for this "honor."
Chances are, you will never meet anyone like these losers -- not in a lifetime of travel -- but just in case, see my tips for taming these folks. Ready?
1. Clueless Child Escorts: Earlier this month, two unknown Continental Express employees guided two youngsters, both traveling solo -- to planes that brought them to the wrong destinations. That's two "missing child" incidents -- in the same weekend. The airline apologized, blamed it on "miscommunication" -- and according to the family of 8-year-old Taylor Williams, offered them a voucher for a future flight. Question: Does that child really want to fly again anytime soon?
Tip: Have a family member travel with children under 12. If that's not possible, equip your child with a cell phone and make sure he or she knows how to use it. Finally, train your child to ask the airline escort, "This is the flight to XYZ, correct?" -- then have the child repeat the question to flight attendants and seatmates once on board the plane.
2. Cargo Traveler: Did you hear about the baggage handler who fell asleep on the job? Unfortunately, the JetBlue employee was in the cargo hold of a plane at JFK at the time -- which then took off for Boston. The 21-year-old man, who was not charged with a crime, said he woke up in midflight and called the office on his cell -- presumably to ask what to do (I'm trying to imagine his supervisor's response -- maybe, "Well, genius, I sure wouldn't open the door!")
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