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Another Unbelievable CAL Story

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Another Unbelievable CAL Story

Old 05-29-2009, 01:41 PM
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Default Another Unbelievable CAL Story

CAL management at its finest once again. Wonder what the press would make of this?


On April 13, 2009 I was the Captain on Air Micronesia Flt. 961, Gum - Tyo. When I reported to the gate for check in, an agent working the flight advised me that there was a wounded Marine traveling with his Physician and Division commander. I walked over to introduce myself to a Dr Wilkerson and ask him what I could do to help the Marines condition with respect to the flight to Tokyo. He advised me that he had a serious brain injury and was going to TYO for brain surgery and was in a tremendous amount of pain. I then asked the agent if there were any First class seats avliable and she responded that there were seven open seats. I then asked for just two seats but if she would not mind three would be better. She then immediately gave me three seats beside each other in row three. I then boarded the plane and told the lead flight attendant what the situation was and asked for her assistance. She and all the other Flight Attendants were more that happy to lend assistance. They immediately started gathering more pillows and blankets to aide in the Marines comfort.

I then returned to the podium and asked that he be boarded first as he was unable to walk unassisted. By that time a red coat agent had showed up and started giving me a hard time by telling me that I did not have the authority to take such action and that it was not my call to make. Taking action to help a wounded Marine is a rare opportunity and for me, and quite an honor in light of the sacrifices they make for us. I then politely informed her that I did have the authority and I was making the call to take this action. I felt that the situation pretty much explained itself and that no further discussion was needed, yet she was adamant about blocking this gesture of kindness to a wounded member of our Military. I then informed everyone that he was to be boarded first since he was unable to walk unassisted. Again this red coat strongly objected to this action.

She informed me that he was to board according to his row number with the rest of the passengers and only after he was seated and the door to the aircraft closed would he be able to move up to First Class. For some reason her objections to me taking this action went away. So her next objection was to his boarding early and not first taking his originally assigned seat in coach. I asked her to take a good look at this wounded Marine as his pain was obvious by his moaning and his face wincing in pain and that he was unable to walk unassisted. I informed her that I was not going to treat him in such a callous and unfeeling manner, and that he diserved more consideration from us. Yet she still insisted on boarding him by his originally assigned seat number in coach. She then informed me that they did not diserve to sit up there as they had not paid for the seats. After confirming that her problem was with the money issue, the third one in this episode, I gave her my credit card and told her that if money was now her issue then buy them three first class tickets on me. She then took my credit card and left to go make the charges. This, by the way is illegal according to TSA regulations, a fact that she was oblivious to. She failed this test. I then boarded the three soldiers to their seats in first.

After this I decided to call the SOCC and talk to the Ops. Director. "name omitted" was on duty and after hearing this story he pretty much was speechless but said that I was well within my rights to take the action I did and that I should get my credit card back. When I returned to the aircraft she was in first class talking on the radio in a very loud manner. She was so loud that "name omitted" the first officer on the flight heard her from the cockpit and started to call security to have her removed. I told her that this was not going to happen in the aircraft and we needed to go to the jetway. She did leave the aircraft with me, and finally gave me my credit card back telling me that she was unable to make the charges. I then informed her of my conversation with the Ops. Director and what his opinion of the situation was. She then informed me that her problem was me requesting that the PNR be changed to reflect the seating change. Yet another lie, the PNR was NEVER part of any discussion with her or any one else and certainly of no concern to me at any time.

It is obvious that this red coat changed her story more times than I care to remember. It is painfully clear that she has made false accusations against me to cover up her severe lack of good judgment. "name omitted", the F/O, was a witness to this nonsense and verified that at no time did I ever loose my temper, behave inappropriately, or use any foul language. To do so would have been a severe detriment to accomplishing my goal of taking care of a severely wounded Marine.

Yet on the morning of the 15th of April, the IAH 757 Chief Pilot called me just a couple of minutes after walking into my house and used a very aggressive, demeaning and condescending tone of voice to inform me that he had a pile of emails from Guam accusing me of refusing to show my I.D. when asked and upgrading passengers to First Class and that he was taking section 19 actions against me for my behavior in Guam. At no time did he ever ask me any questions about the accusations against me or give me a chance to defend myself against these false charges. Nor did he ever provide me with any details of what was said by anyone. He just immediately initiated this legal action against me without hearing my side of the story.

I find his behavior despicable and contrary to any kind of a healthy working environment. A fact that is obviously lost to him is that there are TWO sides to every story but as evidenced by his handling of this incident only accusations and falsehoods carry any kind of weight with him. His behavior can only be described as dysfunctional at best. I would have been more than happy to answer any and all of his questions and lay to rest any and all accusations that were made against me because I was in the right and know beyond any doubt that every thing I did was above reproach and no one has accused me of behaving inappropriately.

I must add that this whole incident of trying to do something good for another human being, much less an wounded member of our military forces and as a consequence facing false accusations and severe disciplinary actions against me has unfortunately led me to the conclusion that I can no longer safely make any kind gestures to anyone for fear of reprisals by someone that has an ax to grind against a Captain. It saddens me that Continental has fostered a working environment in which employees are encouraged to write someone up which was verified to me by the assistant Chief who once said to me "you should see some of the **** that comes across my desk" in a conversation concerning another matter. It seems to be that by the way he describes the write ups he has come across his desk it would seem that the appropriate action to take in ALL of these cases is to talk to all the parties involved to get "the rest of the story". That, in this case, was never done before legal action was taken against me for upgrading a wounded Marine to First Class.
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:52 PM
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All I can say to that is WOW!
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:57 PM
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Wow, just wow.

Aren't Red Coats supposed to be Customer SERVICE Agents of the highest degree? Has anyone seen how much the government pays for these unrestricted fares?

Seems like Chief Pilots would be able to do a real quick gut check on reports from GSA's and keep their powder dry until they know the "rest of the story."
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Old 05-29-2009, 02:16 PM
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Forget what the press thinks of this.

I wonder what the D.O.T. and the D.O.D. would have to say? Aren't they responsible for choosing and certifying which airlines are acceptable for travel by government personnel? I wonder how Continental would feel about losing all government purchased tickets for a year or ten?

Unreal. I wonder if "red coat" (name withheld ) just hates U.S. Soldiers?
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Old 05-29-2009, 02:52 PM
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I'm just amazed someone times how poorly human beings can treat other human beings - forget the customer service portion of the post!

I would offer to help someone in the mall or walking down the street if there were in such pain - and here the red coat is treating a paying passenger with such rudeness and insensitivity?

Bravo to the CAL Captain! I hate to say it, but situations like this are why companies have unions.
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Old 05-29-2009, 03:06 PM
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Good for you for sticking up for what you believe is right. I hope all turns out well for this Captain.
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Old 05-29-2009, 03:26 PM
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Just another airline management who encourages labor groups to work together by "writing each other up."

Despicable.
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Old 05-29-2009, 03:31 PM
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Some background on this. Article 19 is basically a termination proceeding so this Pilot is facing losing his job. I like the idea of contacting the DOD and seeing what they think as well.

Unfortunately CAL is now officially a worse place to work for than when Frank Lorenzo was running things.
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Old 05-29-2009, 03:46 PM
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The Capt should bust that moron for the TSA violation. Go down swingin'!!
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Old 05-29-2009, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by iaflyer View Post
I hate to say it, but situations like this are why companies have unions.
Well said...having union representation isnt about the money or the better contract or stuff like that as much as it is an avenue to support pilots when they need to make a command decision with the security that someone will not be able to hang them for it later provided it was a reasonable call to make.
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