Magenta Line, Saturday 10-03-09 - Part 4


Well-known member
Dec 4, 2001
Total Time
Item 11: Special Guest Editorial by Captain Tom Allnatt,
Member of our Local Council 170 Grievance Committee

We Lost a Customer Today

On our return flight from Berlin today, I had the opportunity to take my crew rest in coach, as all of the Business First seats had been sold. I was on break during the second meal service and overheard the passenger behind me tell the FA she had ordered a vegetarian meal. The FA was very apologetic that her name did not appear to be on the special meal list. She quickly got the ISM to speak to her in order to resolve the situation. In the story that followed, it appears she had made her reservation over a month prior and had ordered the vegetarian meals. As a result of previous flights where in a similar manner her special meal had not been boarded, she logged onto the previous evening to ensure that it showed her meal preferences. She confirmed that it had. The ISM then offered her a comment card with the normal spiel that it goes straight to our highest levels of management and that they will respond quickly. Unfortunately, it appears she had been told the same thing on the previous occasions but after filling out the cards more than once she never heard back. This lady was not a raving lunatic. Quite the contrary, she was calm and polite in spite of her level of dissatisfaction. Her point was quite valid in that it appeared the only way she would get a vegetarian meal was to book on another carrier.

Perhaps the most tragic point of this whole incident is how drastically it contrasts with the rest of the flight. Our flight time today was slightly over 9 hours, right at the maximum performance of a B757. Maintenance, in spite of a plane which hadn’t sat for more than an hour or two in days, presented us with a capable bird. Dispatch, in spite of a heavy payload and unseasonably strong headwinds, presented us with a legal and safe flight plan to get us home. Berlin operations boarded a nearly full aircraft and got us off the gate ten minutes early, giving us a shot at an on time arrival. Our Flight Attendants, in spite of dealing with a single aisle aircraft on a nine plus hour flight, put on an outstanding service and even found time to take great care of us in the pit. Last but not least, the three of us on the flight deck, in spite of enduring the ridiculous and uncomfortable reality of dealing with crew rest in a row of coach seats and launching from Berlin being nearly min fuel from the moment we taxied, pulled safely into the gate in Newark right on schedule. Dozens of employees across multiple employee groups all did their jobs to complete this challenging flight and in spite of it all we lost a longtime customer. Why? The answer is quite simple. Our management team is either unwilling or incapable of providing the product that our customers have come to expect when they step onto a Continental Airlines flight. We now have an airline that refuses to board bottled water in the quantities necessary to meet our passenger’s needs. We close doors in the faces of connecting passengers in order to block aircraft out 5 minutes early. We dispatch full aircraft on lengthy flights with placarded lavatories rather than spend 10 minutes to repair them. We under-staff, not just flight ops but nearly every department, to the point that we can’t deal with irregular ops and then have no one to respond to customer complaints when things fall apart. We have flight managers tasked with spending so much of their time harassing pilots for being sick and fatigued that they have no time to deal with operational issues. We squander opportunities to make thousands in revenue in order to save pennies. Most tragic of all is the individuals responsible for this have been or soon will be leaving with millions in stock options, enhanced retirement packages, and Golden Parachutes. They will not be held accountable for one iota of their mismanagement of our airline. At the same time, all the employees that worked together to make my flight and hundreds just like it a success today will be left holding the bag. We will be told there is nothing left to be able to give us our hard earned rewards. We will be told we need to give even more in sacrifices to ensure our continued survival. We have heard for over a decade the repeated mantra of CAL having the best management in the industry. BS! What we have at CAL are the most productive employees in the industry and a management team more than happy to leach off that fact in order to enrich themselves to the tune of millions.

And the bottom line? We lost a customer today.

Item 12: Chairman’s Editorial

I have several items I want to discuss this week. First, I have been contacted by a few of our senior-most captains, most of whom fly the B777. There appears to be a group of our senior pilots who feel they are not adequately represented by me as their Captain Representative or our union as a whole. The reason they feel this way is they see few if any senior (top two hundred seniority number or lower) in our union leadership or in any key committee positions. They believe that their issues are not being adequately addressed by our union, either at present or in Contract ‘08 negotiations.

I have committed to meet personally with these pilots and listen to their concerns and provide an avenue for open and straight forward dialog. I want to assure you, as your elected representative, that I will bring these issues to our MEC. I take my responsibility as your Captain Representative very seriously and do not take lightly the fact that I am accountable to all EWR Captains—from the most senior to the most junior. I do my best to ensure each and every voice is well represented at the MEC table.

I also want to remind all of our pilots that our next Local Council Meeting is scheduled on October 28th from 11 am to 3 pm at the Newark Renaissance Hotel. The agenda was purposely kept short so that there will be an adequate amount of time for new business. During new business, you can present resolutions and/or motions directing your elected representatives. You can also ask questions of your LEC Officers or simply speak your mind. Under the ALPA structure the Local Council meeting is the most appropriate venue to have your individual voice heard. Due to our growing attendance at Local Council Meetings, we have increased the size of our meeting room dramatically. Additionally, I would also strongly encourage anyone wanting to communicate your concerns with our MEC to participate in speaker’s corner. Speaker’s corner is held every day during our MEC meetings in Houston and is normally scheduled directly after lunch.

I want to thank Captain Ed Neffinger for stepping up and volunteering to oversee the development of our new LC 170 website. Ed will be working directly with our LC 170 Communications Chairman, First Officer Beau Brant and Vice Chairman, First Officer Mike Shapiro in completing our new website. I ask again for your patience as we wait for our new website to be completed. I promise you it will be well worth the wait. In the meantime, Beau has reactivated the link to the old LC 170 website and it will remain active until the new website comes on-line. If you have any suggestions for the new website, please e-mail Beau at

Have you had a hard time getting ahold of your LEC Officers? OK, I have to admit I haven’t been doing the best job keeping up with the massive amounts of e-mails I receive on a daily basis. Unfortunately, in doing this job there are always many important crises that arise on a daily basis that need immediate attention. While dealing with these issues, the e-mails still arrive at a never-ending rate and what you hoped to answer later is pushed down several pages on the ALPA e-mail server. Yes, unfortunately some do go unanswered. If I haven’t responded to your e-mail I sincerely apologize, and again, moving forward, I will strive to do a much better job. If you haven’t received a timely response please send again, and certainly don’t be shy. Also, I suggest you be somewhat creative and eye-catching in your e-mail subject line. Most importantly, if you need to get ahold of any of us, pick up the phone and CALL US! That is why we publish our phone numbers in each and every Magenta Line. I promise you I do a far better job returning phone calls then I do in the answering e-mail department. If you didn’t get a timely e-mail response or you have anything important you need to bring to our attention, call us—we’re here for you.

In closing, this week’s Magenta Line made me realize that our airline is returning to its Lorenzo-like roots. Unfortunately, it appears that our airline has come full circle back to the horrific and terrible airline I came to work for in 1987. Our senior and middle management have single-handedly squandered the industry leading product they were handed by Mr. Bethune and have turned us into the airline you’re ashamed to admit you work for. Say what you want about Mr. Bethune, Captain McLean, et al, at least they were good airline operations people, far better than the bean counters and lawyers now sitting on Smith Street. However, judging by their greed, arrogance and incompetence, our current management doesn’t even have the slightest clue—or want one, either.

“WARNING: You have chosen to set your yearly vacation election to 35 days for the 2010 vacation year. No days will be available to you as Monthly Bid Vacation.”—Yeah, yeah, we got it the first time.

Captain Jayson Baron, EWR Council 170 Chairman

First Officer Tara Cook, EWR Council 170 Vice Chairman

Captain Kaye Riggs, EWR Council 170 Secretary-Treasurer

Captain Kaye Riggs
Council 170 Secretary/Treasurer
Director of Communications