Stuck passenger fights for air rights


first_imgLike thousands of American Airlines passengers last Dec. 29, Kate Hanni and her family were stuck aboard a jet for hours, out on the tarmac. They were hungry, bored, angry and, in the case of Flight 1348, sick of the smell wafting through the cabin from the lavatories. When the ordeal finally ended, some passengers from the 67 separate American flights – which each spent at least three hours stranded – e-mailed or called in their complaints to the airline. Some vented on blogs. Most grumbled and went about their business. And the airline industry thought it would, too. Hanni, who said she had never even written a letter of complaint in her life, decided she would get a law passed making lengthy confinement on an airplane illegal. “I was fuming,” she said. “It was imprisonment.” She thus became an unlikely and, thus far, powerful adversary to an industry accustomed to riding out its major service lapses with only the lightest of government scrutiny After American’s problems, JetBlue Airways had its own meltdown in February, with at least nine flights stuck on the tarmac for six hours or more. Moreover, June was the worst month this decade for taxi-out times – the time between leaving the gate and actually taking off – with 462 flights stuck on the ground for more than three hours, the Transportation Department reported. July was not as bad, with 276 flights stuck for more than three hours, though it was still one of the worst months since 2000. (August data are not yet available.) Hanni’s group has pointed out that the taxi-out statistics capture only a minority of stranded flights. Diverted planes like Flight 1348 and flights that taxi out and sit for hours and then return to the terminal only to be canceled are not included. Amid an awful year for air travel, Hanni became a regular on TV news shows. Airline executives are careful not to criticize her personally, perhaps for fear of building her reputation. “It’s not about the woman,” said David A. Castelveter, chief spokesman for the airline industry lobby, the Air Transport Association. “It’s about the issue. You can’t legislate customer service.” After Thompson’s original bill was folded into larger legislation, the get-off-the-plane provision was eliminated. Hanni called the bill “gutted.” (Some of the bill’s other provisions – food, water and clean lavatories, among them – remained.) She persisted, however. Thompson spent a good part of the past several days trying to get the votes to reinsert the get-off-the-plane provision. He said Wednesday a weakened version, requiring airlines to submit a plan to regulators to allow passengers off after “excessive delays,” appeared headed for inclusion in the bill. Each time Hanni is in the news, calls and e-mail messages to her Web site,, surge. Mark Mogel, who was still mad about being stranded in 2001, e-mailed Hanni after seeing her on C-Span. He got no reply for a month. He e-mailed again, he said, saying that she and her colleagues were more disorganized than the airlines. “Half an hour later, I got a call from Kate, and I’ve been working with them ever since,” he added. He assembled the strand-in tent, pulled together the research that concluded that most stranded flights are not included in government statistics and he maintains the Web site. “She ropes you in,” said Mogel, 51, and a semi-retired software engineer. “I wanted to scale back. But little by little – can you do this? – I’m back at it full time.” Calls and e-mail messages help identify the latest stranded flight. Robert McKee contacted Hanni after posting a YouTube video about Delta Flight 6499, which he said was stranded for seven hours on June 25. McKee said it appeared that Delta employees who were passengers were allowed off the flight, while he was not. A Delta spokeswoman, Betsy Talton, said a single Delta worker left the plane when a truck went out to 6499 to ferry its crew, which had reached its allowed time limit, back to the terminal. And Leslie Saladino was on a Bentonville, Ark.-to-Dallas American flight home June 27 that diverted to Shreveport and lingered there on the tarmac for about five hours, she said. Actually, it was three hours and 40 minutes on the ground, said Tim Wagner, an American spokesman. Regardless, Saladino said she wants a law giving her the right to get off the plane. Castelveter, the airline industry spokesman, said he sympathized with passengers. “We have made mistakes,” he said. “We have apologized for those mistakes, and we are working hard to ensure that they never happen again.”Others are, too. With the coalition work, Hanni has not played with the Toasted Heads much this year. But that is all right. “I’m enjoying this as much as performing,” she said. “I hope I’m done with real estate. I would like to be a consumer advocate.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! . A successful real estate agent, occasional rock and roll singer and mother of two, Hanni, 47, essentially put her life on hold to take on the airlines, leaning on her husband to earn more and spend more time looking after their children so she could battle the lobbying might of the airlines. With the help of Internet chat boards, videos shot by stranded passengers and posted on YouTube and a growing network of volunteers, she has gathered 18,000 signatures on an online petition supporting what she calls a Passengers’ Bill of Rights. Her congressman, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, quickly introduced legislation at her behest to force airlines to let passengers off stranded planes after three hours, with two 30-minute extensions at the pilot’s discretion. That is at least four hours less than the Hanni family spent on the tarmac in Austin, Texas. On Wednesday, Hanni staged what she called a “strand-in” near the Capitol in Washington, in a bid to keep up momentum for the get-off-the-plane legislation she wants enacted, over objections from the airline industry. A long tent was outfitted to resemble the interior of an airline, and wings were drawn on its exterior in duct tape. She offered long-shot invitations to members of Congress to experience confinement, replete with smelly portable toilets Hanni and fellow volunteers had rounded up. For the record, American said Flight 1348’s toilets never overflowed. Hanni’s lobbying effort even has a soundtrack, of sorts. Her rock group, the Toasted Heads, rewrote lyrics to the Animals’ 1965 hit, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” to make it an anthem for stranded passengers.last_img read more

Birmingham City 0-2 QPR: Watch highlights of Rangers’ victory


first_imgRavel Morrison breathed new life into QPR’s bid for automatic promotion, scoring twice to give them a resounding win at St Andrews.See also:Morrison scores twice as QPR see off BluesBond hails Ravel as QPR assess Doyle injuryBirmingham v QPR player ratingsFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img

South Africa launches fuel cell study


first_img11 February 2016A R15-million feasibility study launched by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies will identify particular components that can be manufactured for fuel cell units.The Isondo Precious Minerals (IPM) study was launched by the minister on Tuesday. It is intended to accelerate mineral beneficiation and localisation of fuel cell manufacturing in South Africa.“We are in a difficult time as producers and exporters of primary mineral resources as a result of the significant price fall of commodities,” Davies said. “This has affected many of the industrial mineral commodities that we produce as a country. We have realised that we need to find new uses for our resources.”There has been a rise in the technological development of fuel cells with demand for platinum in the fuel sector being at its most stable.“It is as a response to this demand that (the) government and the platinum mining sector resolve to encourage an increase in the demand for platinum. We have an additional interest to make sure that those new uses generate and support industrial development in South Africa, so as to capture the manufacturing that takes place in this particular industry,” Davies said.South Africa has honed in on two potential uses of fuel cell technology.“The first is the small power unit that could be used to power remote areas 20 kilometres away from the existing grid connection. The other use is of powering underground equipment within the mining industry.“What we are doing as (the) government is to support different initiatives that can realise the industrial development opportunities. This will also help us to achieve the beneficiation objectives.”The study is envisaged to be completed in a year’s time. “What we want to do through this feasibility study is to understand better the building blocks of fuel cell units and to look at the particular competencies and capabilities that can be developed in the country.“We want to establish this technology on the African continent as something which builds into the platinum industry to support and sustain the expansion and stabilisation of the industry,” the minister said.The feasibility study was evidence of IPM’s commitment to bring together world- class proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and South African precious metal supply to significantly reduce the cost of PEM, said IPM’s chief executive, Vinay Somera.The Department of Trade and Industry is working closely with the Industrial Development Corporation on the development of a fuel cell roadmap.The announcement came as the Investing in African Mining Indaba was under way in Cape Town. Investors and stakeholders at the indaba widely acknowledged to current gloomy market – Mineral Resources Minister called it a “winter season” in his opening address on 8 February – be the worst downturn in the commodities market many in the mining sector had ever experienced.South Africa has 96% of the world’s platinum group metal reserves, and the country is the world’s largest producer of platinum. The Mining Indaba ends on 11 February.Source: SouthAfricanews.govlast_img read more

SA MTB stage race granted UCI status


first_img“It’s essentially a badge of prestige that attracts a higher level of international riders at the competitive end of the race,” Rademeyer added. Prize moneyBy being granted UCI status, a race is obliged to offer a minimum amount of prize money in Euros and pay prize money down to at least 10th position in the men’s and women’s Elite categories on each stage and in the General Classification rankings at the end of the event. Graded events also offer UCI rankings points to top performing riders. The fifth edition of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek, which takes place from 20 to 26 October, has attracted some of the biggest names in the world of women’s marathon mountain bike racing. The UCI grading will ensure even more top women and a strong international men’s field in 2014 too. ‘Very pleased’“We are very pleased with this news,” Cape Pioneer Trek Race director Henco Rademeyer, said in a statement on Friday. 6 September 2013 ‘The world’s best racers’“That’s not to say we’ll take any focus off the enjoyment factor for the majority of the entrants, who will, from next year, be competing alongside a number of the world’s best racers.” “It’s been on our list of goals for some time. With not many other international stage races taking place in October, we felt that the combination of the Cape Pioneer Trek’s quality race route, high organisational standards and its calendar position, would all work in our favour. The Absa Cape Epic is the only other South African stage race that holds a UCI grading. The seven-day stage race, which takes place each year in late October in the Western Cape province, has shown appropriate compliance to the UCI’s grading criteria. It will begin as a UCI S2 level status event, the first tier of three for international stage races and can improve its grading over time. Bridge CEO Emile Aldum commented: “The UCI status echoes the level of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek as a world class race and it yet again strengthens our pride in being the title sponsor of such an esteemed event.” The Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race has been granted International Cycling Union (UCI) race status for 2014, making it only the second South African stage race to be awarded the prestigious classification. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Why Linkfluence Switched from CouchDB to Riak


first_imgSocial analytics company Linkfluence began migrating from CouchDB to Riak recently. A blog post by Linkfluence’s Franck Cuny explains the reasons and sheds some light on the advantages and disadvantages of different non-relational databases.Linkfluence used CouchDB primarily to store Web content and metadata. It uses other databases such as PostgresSQL, MongoDB and Redis for other purposes.So why the switch?CouchDB stores every revision as a new document, and keeps the entire history of revisions. Linkfluence didn’t need this sort of versioning, and the revisions were starting to bloat its database. (However, a Hacker News commenter notes that this can be changed with the ‘_revs_limit’ setting.)CouchDB stores the entire database as one file. As Linkfluence’s database grew larger than one terrabyte, this became problematic.Cuny writes that he had problems with CouchDB crashing randomly, but notes that the last version of the database was “quite stable.”Cuny writes that Linkfluence had the following requirements for a replacement:easy to replicateno master/slavea REST interfaceshardingAlthough the company had to write its own Perl client, Cuny and company were generally impressed with Riak and its sponsor company Basho. For more information on Basho, check out our previous coverage.Does this mean CouchDB is a bad product? No. It just wasn’t the right tool for this job.Last year, the CouchDB team has focused on solving one problem in particular: offline access to data. The new Couchbase project may go in a different direction, but the classic CouchDB continues to focus on offline access. Meanwhile, BigCouch from Cloudant aims to address some of the scalability issues that Linkfluence faced.We expect to see a lot more cases like this as developers feel out the strengths of various new technologies. Related Posts Tags:#Analysis#cloud Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… klint finleycenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more