Friday, March 9, 2007

Air Traffic Controllers

I continue to be absolutely blown away every time I hear something new about how badly we treat the air traffic controllers in this country. I travel every month all over the world for work, and I know that each time I'm hurdling toward the ground at 400 mph, that I'm safe in the hands of one of our talented air traffic controllers.

Then I hear again today that the FAA has released new staffing target numbers. The new target numbers will have a mixed impact upon airports throughout the country and the effects will be felt on a case by case basis.

How does this affect you?

Air traffic controllers are the brain that controls the clumsy arms and legs of the thousands of domestic and international flights. The FAA's new plan is like huffing paint fumes for that brain. Instead of taking care of the brain by giving it vitamins and plenty of rest, instead the FAA is starving it of oxygen (cutting overtime pay). What this means for you is longer delays, more canceled flights and generally more aggravation every time you travel. For me, it means that when I'm accelerating down the runway in the bowels of a 747, I know that I'm being watched by air traffic controllers that are ready for retirement, underpaid, overworked and bitter about their job.

Since the FAA enforces what basically amount to jailhouse rules in the tower, less and less young people are signing up to become air traffic controllers. According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, despite the FAA's imaginary numbers, 2007 marks the 3rd annual decline in net increases to air traffic controller employment numbers.

The bottom line is that we are losing our air traffic controllers to time and the FAA is doing nothing but burying its head in the sand.

It makes my blood boil that in this Country we take these kind of things for granted until they come back and bite us.

The FAA needs to draft a new budget that rewards these dedicated men and women for their work. In this new budget needs to be a target marketing campaign towards young people who are not yet interested in becoming air traffic controllers. If we don't have anything less than 95% online departures, do we really need all the "passengers bill of rights"? I don't think so. I'm happy to just get off the ground, get to sleep, and then arrive. Especially the arrive part of that equation.

$10 Hockey Game

Since Mrs. Newlywed and I have put a cap on our cash spending in a month, we're both a lot more conscious about how much cash we have at any given time. Last night we were lucky enough to score some NHL tickets. We went and we ended up spending only $10 combined! This was previously unheard of if we went to a sports game together, because we'd usually split some food and drink plenty of beer. This time though, we had only 1 $7 beer and 1 $3 soda and still had a great time.

Of course, our home team lost, but that's because they're just terrible.