The strike zone

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On behalf of the 100,000 America West passengers whose lives will not be upended thanks to an 11th-hour strike reprieve, I'd just like to say "Whew!" Because if you thought the American Airlines sickout was a pain in the neck, you'd have had an even lower opinion of an AmWest walkout.

Over at AA, the peeved parties were pilots. And while pilots get their own little room at the front of the plane with big windows and a free phone, it's the flight attendants who are really running the show.

America West's flight attendants were plenty mad and very, very scary. Their gripe, a never-recouped pay cut versus the airline's very healthy balance sheet, sounds like a reasonable beef. What's astounding, though, is the staggering organizational prowess that went into planning this action.

A neat little sabotage machine affectionately known as CHAOS, for "Creating Havoc Around Our System," was to have been employed last Friday night. Supposedly, by tripping the CHAOS mechanism of systemic work stoppages, flight attendants could have paralyzed the airline in a matter of minutes. Guess who blinked.

Though settlement details remain hermetically sealed, it seems that everybody is walking away happy. For that, we should all be thankful. And it might not be a bad idea to smile when asking for that extra bag of peanuts.

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