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
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.