Direct communication appreciated


Airport delays are as much a part of life as flat tires, stumped toes and other non-pleasantries. So I’m not whining.

Neither am I dissing the airlines or airport personnel. My safety is in their hands and I’m grateful for every effort they make to ensure that.

Weather is beyond anyone’s control and one snafu in one city can have a domino effect for several airports. It’s just one of those things.

Also, I’m grateful for the keen-eyed mechanic who spotted the fuel leak just before my flight was to take off this week — even if it caused havoc with my schedule.

Whether a flight delay or any other situation in life, my appreciation for direct communication is high.

A few weeks ago, the Delta flight I was scheduled on was delayed by a wiring problem related to the “black box” data recorder. The pilot was exemplary in his communication approach.

The captain came to the gate and announced directly to the passengers the cause of the delay. He informed us that: (1) the wiring problem had nothing to do with the safe operation of the plane; (2) FFA regulations forbid flying without the device working properly; (3) the time it takes to find and fix a wiring problem is unpredictable; (4) breathing down the mechanic’s neck while troubleshooting doesn’t speed up the process; and (5) he will keep us posted on further developments.

While the delay was still a delay, it felt better knowing the details and feeling confident that someone was giving the situation good attention. The gracious pilot even remained at the desk to answer repeated stupid questions. (Stupid questions, in this case, included those he had just answered and the ones asking if we will be flying on an unsafe aircraft.)

Hearing the latter a few too many times, he took to the microphone and explained: “Folks, don’t worry. I would never fly an unsafe plane. I don’t have a parachute either.”

His patience, humor and concern were appreciated. Most of all, being in-the-know (through constant updates) was appreciated.

In the lingo of my upbringing, “don’t beat around the bush.” Like Detective Joe Friday, all we want is the facts.

There is something to be said about straight talk — regardless of the situation.

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