Monday, September 20, 2010

Useless airport "security" again

And they only became "concerned" when the light of publicity shone upon it

An 80-year-old grandmother has shown up Melbourne airport's multi-million dollar security-screening operation after carrying a 33cm screwdriver onto a plane on two recent flights.

Mrs Bond, who lives in Adelaide, first carried the prohibited item in her hand-luggage when she flew to Melbourne last month to spend time with her son after the death of her husband. The tool was not detected at Adelaide, even though the luggage went through an X-ray machine. She then passed security at Melbourne airport unnoticed a week later.

Son Geoff Bond said his mother didn't realise the screwdriver was in the pocket of her carry-on luggage until she returned. "She was quite shocked and very concerned about the breach," Mr Bond said. "She was careful when she packed because she thought security was a lot tougher, but now she thinks the whole thing is just ridiculous."

Mrs Bond said she was "very surprised" security screening did not detect the screwdriver. "I just can't understand how it got through; perhaps someone wasn't being vigilant. I certainly never, ever meant to take a screwdriver across to Melbourne. "I'm well aware things like that don't go in cabin luggage. I don't even put a nail file in my handbag before flying."

Her son said it seemed as if people were being rushed through the security check point because of long queues. He called on Qantas to review safety and security procedures. "I'm concerned by this. More than anything I'm frustrated about the system," he said.

Mr Bond said he had made a complaint to Qantas but "they didn't seem to care".

Qantas spokesman Simon Rushton, however, said the airline was very concerned about the lapse. "Qantas screens millions of passengers and their carry-on bags each year (and) we take any incident where a prohibited item is not detected by security screening extremely seriously," he said.

Mr Rushton said that Qantas was responsible for security screening only at Melbourne airport. "We will investigate these claims and also report them to the Office of Transport Security." But he added: "Qantas meets and, in many cases, exceeds, all government mandated aviation security requirements."


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Violinist fights Jetstar over broken instrument

The "f*ck you" airline again

Zoe Bloomfield, a violin player and teacher, is battling Jetstar for compensation over claims her $7000 violin was damaged after she was forced to put it in the cargo hold - at a cost of $80 - on a flight from Hobart to Sydney last month.

The violin, which she normally carried as hand luggage without any problems, arrived in Sydney sporting a 10-centimetre crack that she believes was caused by ''downward pressure from something falling on it''. The repair estimate is $2200 - the violin is not insured - and Jetstar has so far refused to pay.

Yesterday the airline said Ms Bloomfield, who plays with the Tasmanian Discovery Orchestra, could file a claim for compensation of up to $1600. But she may have to cancel a performance in Tasmania in three weeks' time. ''I'm afraid the crack will open up [if I play it],'' she said.

Each airline's cabin baggage policy differs slightly, but mid-sized instruments such as violins are often at the centre of disputes.

A spokesman for Jetstar, Simon Westaway, confirmed it was investigating Ms Bloomfield's case and acknowledged the ''high emotional and cost value'' of instruments. He said Jetstar was developing a new strap to enable violinists to carry their instruments on the seat beside them at their own expense.

Qantas, which owns Jetstar but has separate policies for the airlines, said it was increasing the cabin allowance for violins and violas from 115 centimetres to 130 centimetres. All larger instruments, such as cellos, require their own seat.

The chief executive of Live Performance Australia, Evelyn Richardson, said airlines should take a more equitable approach to cabin baggage ''when you see the number of businessmen who get on with large bags''.

A letter sent last month by Qantas to a member of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and obtained by the Herald, said the issue had flared up recently because of new cabin baggage directives.

The letter said: ''A lot of our crew show some discretion with violins/violas and allow it on, which we should, [but] some stick very rigidly to policy and request passengers buy a seat for it or check it in … not the ideal outcome for the customer.''


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Qantas flight to Manila returns to Sydney after landing gear issue

A QANTAS plane carrying 158 passengers to Manila turned back to Sydney after an indicator light came on, signalling a potential issue with its wet weather anti-skid landing gear.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the Boeing 767 had left Sydney at 11am (AEST) on Monday but returned at 4.15pm for safety reasons. "The flight was on its way to Manila and there was an indicator defect in the cockpit for the anti-skid indicator," the spokeswoman told AAP. "As there were thunderstorms forecast for Manila the decision was made to return the aircraft to Sydney."

Passengers were due to board a replacement flight to Manila at about 6pm.

The spokeswoman said she couldn't say if this type of incident had happened before. "Our engineers will have a look at the aircraft and determine if there is a problem with the aircraft," she said. "At this stage we don't know if it's just an indicator light defect or not."


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Qantas jet makes emergency landing after engine explodes

The faults are getting worse. They are going to kill a lot of people soon

A QANTAS plane carrying 212 passengers made an emergency landing yesterday after an engine exploded shortly after it took off from San Francisco.

The four-engine Boeing 747, which departed from San Francisco International Airport for Sydney at about 11.10pm local time on Monday (4pm Tuesday AEST), was in the air for 45 minutes and at 30,000ft when there was an explosion in the No. 4 engine.

Passengers reportedly heard a loud bang and said the plane shook. One man said there were flames coming out of the engine. Photos showed a gaping hole in the engine on the right side of the aircraft. The pilot dumped fuel over the Pacific Ocean and returned to San Francisco at approximately 12.45am local time, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

There was no fire, according to Qantas spokesman Simon Rushton, KTVU reports, but he said a surge in the engine may have caused what appeared to be flames. None of the plane’s passengers were injured, and authorities were investigating the explosion.