Alaska Flight #536 – Rapid De-Pressurization and Panic at 30K Feet

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Me at 30K - Wondering what was going on...de-pressurization is not a confidence building experience

Boy, what a day. In what started as a typical flight home from a typical holiday weekend, changed drastically twenty minutes after take off. My fiancée and I were returning from a few days in Seattle when the unthinkable happened to us – our Alaska MD-80 Airplane tore a hole in it’s fuselage at 30K feet.

First of all, I’m just glad I’m here to write this post, to tell the tale of this horrifying incident – but the stupid circumstances by which it happened, are upsetting.

Nothing can describe the helpless feeling you go through during a time like this, when you are absent any control, you cannot breathe, and everyone around is stunned into fear. It all started with a loud bang – the cabin air began to swirl and the engine sound became deafening. As a GA-VFR pilot, I knew something was terribly wrong. As the smell of acrid AV-gas/JP4 and burning plastic filled the cabin, it created more fear in the eyes of the holiday passengers around me. We were all gripped in silence, surrounded by the white noise from the engines that eerily engulfed the plane into a surreal atmosphere. And as the oxygen masks deployed from the ceiling in a familiar, video-esque manner, we all grasped them in fear – trying to figure out how to breathe through the flimsy pieces of plastic. Parents were the most confused – as the masks were too large for their babies’ faces and were not easy to put on in such a panicked situation. The next few minutes passed like seconds – the plane started diving down to a lower level … and fast.

The first moment of some release was the pilot’s voice over the speaker. It had been more than 20 minutes since he last spoke, when he told us we had reached altitude. Now, he told us that we had leveled off at 10K feet and we were heading back to Sea-Tac airport. Again, since I am a pilot – I had many ideas on how and why this happened. This morning I found out that one of my assumptions was correct – there was a hole in the plane that caused the decompression. A hole that could have cost many lives, including my own. The enraging fact is that a non-union baggage handler ran into the side of the plane moments prior to take-off … and that it was never reported.

Thank god for the help of an amazing cabin crew and pilot. Without them, who knows what could have happened.

The worst part for me was the fact that my Fiancee and I were 4 rows apart and she was closer to the rear of the plane where the loud ‘bang’ and Engine noise was coming from; I couldn’t stop thinking of how she felt, and how terrified she must be all alone back there. But as you know Alaska Airlines often ‘oversells’ flights as usual, in an overbooked flight they couldn’t accomodate us.

Ugh…we’ll here are the photos of the incident as I could take them on my Treo 650, sorry about the resolution 🙂

The Cabin Crew Helping Passengers

Flight Crew Assisting Children Traveling Alone

Alaska Air Cabin Crew during Decent

Update: Some people have been looking “into” my Civil Aviation Information (Captain X), unfortunately it’s not listed under ‘Jeremy Hermanns’ – my nickname is ‘Jeremy’; but my legal name ‘Robert Jeremiah Hermanns’. For the record: Date of Issue of my FAA Private Pilot Certificate is April 26, 1999. Took my flight test at Van Nuys Airport in a Katana DA-20, and my written at John Wayne in Orange County. Also, I’m a previous AOPA member and Piper Cherokee 140 Owner.

P.S.: I am not editing any comments…the server is being overloaded and not resolving while I’m trying approve them all with this much traffic.

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518 Comments

  1. Steve Herren Reply to Steve

    We are very interested in your ordeal and would like to talk to you. Please call me at (310) 584-2025.
    Thanks

  2. Lisl Wright Reply to Lisl

    Hi Jeremy…

    My name is Lisl Wright and my boyfriend and I were also on Flight 536. I’m so glad to have found your site. I travel Alaska quite frequently and have become very disappointed with the company in general….extremely delayed flights, if not canceled all together. However, what happened yesterday and learning of the events that caused this incident, my stomach is in complete knots and I’m not too keen on flying in the near future. I hope you and your finace are recovering from the whole ordeal and that we can all find a better airline to fly other than Alaska…one that employs professional bagger handlers!

    Sincerely,
    Lisl Wright

  3. Wow…so other than that, what did you think about the play, Mrs. Lincoln??

    I’m glad you’re still here to (eventually) laugh about it…. ;o)

  4. Jeremy, they say that statistically, flying is still one of the safest things you can do. Thanks for contributing such an important, authentic, human element to this equation.

    VERY glad you guys are OK.

  5. Gary Aknos Reply to Gary

    First, I’m glad you are blogging and that you survived this potential deadly incident. Secondly, who give a $hit if the guy who hit the plane was non-union or not? As you must know, union baggage handlers and mechanics have also screwed up and have been blamed for major airline accidents.

  6. Glad you made it through and are safe and sound.

    This detailed account of a potential disaster emphasizes that everyone on board a plane should definitely pay attention to the pre-flight instructions the attendants give before taking off should an emergency occur.

  7. Wow, amazing story man. I’m glad you made it out okay.

  8. I recommend QSet to adjust the picture quality on your Treo.

    And I agree that the union status of the handler is irrelevant.

  9. You come up with some very imaginative terms to describe the smell and what was happening. Can you explain to me, since when did jet liners start using AV gas? What was burning? YOu say and I quote “I knew something was terribly wrong. As the smell of acrid AV-gas and burning plastic filled the cabin”. Since the hole was far forward of the both the wings in which the fuel is stored and the engines for that matter, where did the smell of AV gas come from? No report of anything burnt was ever made, please explain the burning smell?

    Do me one favore. I know you were involved in a terrible event, but don’t make more out of it than it was. Lieing about the smell of gas and burning anything in your blog only serves your own agenda.

  10. SEATTLE (AP)–An Alaska Airlines (ALK) plane is grounded at Seattle-Tacoma
    International Airport for an investigation of an emergency landing and cargo
    loading accident that is being blamed on a baggage handler.
    The National Transportation Safety Board said a baggage handler failed to
    report that equipment struck the plane. A crease in the aluminum opened up as
    the jet climbed to 26,000 feet.
    The baggage handler was employed by Menzies Aviation, a company that Alaska
    Airlines hired to provide ramp services at Sea-Tac after it laid off nearly
    500 workers in May to cut costs.
    Flight 536 lost cabin pressure Monday about 20 minutes after taking off from
    Sea-Tac. Passengers heard a loud noise and felt their ears pop as oxygen masks
    dropped from the ceiling.
    The plane returned to the airport and landed safely with a foot-long hole in
    the fuselage. None of the 140 passengers or five crew members were hurt.
    Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is the nation’s ninth-largest carrier, serving
    mostly West Coast cities.

  11. John Doe Reply to John

    Man…John sure likes to bust balls. I smell his burning!

  12. A story that we all don’t ever want to be a participant in. Glad you are around to see your wedding day. Very gripping account of the flight.

  13. Steve Hays Reply to Steve

    Maybe if you turned your cell phone off like you are supposed to, none of this would have happened. Idiot.

  14. I feel for you, knowing your fiancee was 4 rows away. How terrible if you thought your last minutes were upon you. You used up a boat-load of kharma ;-).

    John-the-skeptic, a hole in the fuselage allows the odor of the combusting aviation fuel in the jet engine (whatever the grade of fuel) to enter the airplane. Therefore, passengers would smell something ‘burning.’

  15. Your Momma Reply to Your

    Wow. Quite astute of you to notice something was wrong after a loud bang and cabin depressurization. Good thing you had that pilot training.

    The first thing I noticed while reading your account (besides the obvious that you don’t know the difference between Jet-A and AVGas — stay away from my plane, bucko.) is that you are a big cry-baby trying to make a big deal out of an emergency decent and precautionary landing. I would expect that from the average Joe citizen who is scared of “those little airplanes”. But not from someone who claims to be a pilot.

    So, what rating do you have? Student pilot?

  16. Hermanns! Good to see you are still alive…and still a nerd! Where’s my trail mix bars!?! Holla at’cha boy!

  17. So let me get this straight? You put on an oxygen mask? And then, umm, you made an emergency descent and landed? AND you lived to “blog” about it! Alright!

    Yawn…

  18. What an incredible story!!! Now, THAT IS A BLOG! I am happy to hear of the happy ending, unfortunately, the mental trauma is something different. Hope your fiance is dealing well, excellent writeup!

  19. Hermanns, I’m still marveling at the fact that your 15 minutes might be that pic with the oxygen mask on! Also, YOU KNOW it’s JP4 on a jet, not AV-GAS.

    As for you John, you may want to note that the engines in an MD-80 are rear mounted, which means that once the air has fully decompressed, the cabin will get exposed to all the fancy smells coming from the fuel and hydraulic pumps and lines sitting down there, fed by 250 kts. of wind gust.

    Incidents like this seem minor to you because that’s how MSM have reported them for years. Welcome to new media vs. old media. New media = you’ve got all the power and emotion coming from someone who was there and feared for their life. Old media = people you think like you. When you’ve been present for an in-flight emergency, you can tell us all how “minor” of a deal it is. Until then, go suck it.

  20. “John” is obviously an Alaska Airlines rep disguising as a concerned member of the public at large.

    Nice try, PR flack/hack.

  21. So let me get this right. During a mid air emergency you decided to turn on your cell phone and snap pictures that you could sell to the media if you survived? Don’t you think that by doing this you could have caused further problems for everyone around you? Did you also ignore the no smoking light and spark up a cigar?

  22. Vince, Treos have an airplane safe mode, so you can safely turn them on during flights.

    But way to go on the nitpicking! You must feel like THE MAN now!

  23. By the way, could one of the geniuses on the comment board kindly point out all of the potential “problems” that an in-flight cell phone can wreak on a plane? Seems odd considering the FAA was proposing to lift the ban on them last year. I bet the only problem it really causes is to the Airphone monopolies. Phone’s seemed to work fine on the 9/11 flights, unless you believe that’s what brought them down.

  24. Who was the guy sitting in front of you who just continued reading the in-flight magazine though the whole thing?

  25. someone without a stick up their butt Reply to someone

    Holy smokes there are some uptight, hyper-critical people who feel the need to post negative, sarcastic comments here. I’m amazed by the self-aggrandizing behavior displayed above.

    Gary: The ‘non-union’ comment was supposed to be descriptive, not pro-union commentary. I took from it that the ramp personnel the work was outsourced to weren’t as well trained. Union situations have pros and cons, and nothing said a union worker couldn’t have done the same thing – don’t take it personally…

    John: I certainly hope you don’t talk like that to people you know, if you actually do talk to real people. If you’re going to start criticizing what someone posts, learn how to type/spell/write first – I noticed _ten_ spelling and grammar errors in your thirteen-line post. Who cares what kind of gas commercial jets use? I would guess the ‘AV’ meant ‘aviation’ – where does it say “I saw them put AV gas in the plane”? He was describing a smell, the layperson won’t know the difference in airplane fuel types. Also, are you saying there can’t be a smell of burning plastic without actually having smoke and fire? Feel free to come smell one of my lemon-scented farts and start looking around for lemons…

    Steve: I’m guessing you were joking, and if you were, that was pretty funny. If you weren’t joking, you might consider some therapy on how to not be so pissy…

    Your Momma: Nice use of sarcasm, but again, who cares what fuel acronym was used? Obviously it didn’t smell like the gas that goes in a car or the differentiation wouldn’t have been made. He also didn’t say “I put AV gas in the plane” so I think _your_ plane is as safe as it can be with you around. As the incident could have easily ended much worse, I wouldn’t call him a cry-baby. It’s really much easier to breathe in a pressurized cabin, and it’s much easier to fly without a foot-long hole in the fuselage, so I think the landing could be considered ‘necessary’, not ‘precautionary’…

  26. I flew my family on an Alaska MD-80 for Christmas too. I chose Alaska based largely on price, which is what almost everyone does. If you did too, how can you be “enraged” about a cost-saving policy (such as hiring non-union workers)? Rather than blame a cost-saving policy which the market has demanded, I think the worker who was remiss in reporting the potential damage to the plane (if that’s what really happened) should be blacklisted from ever working in the industry again.

  27. rusty nail Reply to rusty

    haha. don’t be such a pussy.

    i bet you’re gonna try to sue aren’t you you little whiner?

  28. I guess the safemode enables the night vision green hue in the pictures or maybe it’s the Hilton effect?

  29. Philip Copeland Reply to Philip

    Thanks for blogging about your experience. I’m quite surprised and embarassed about the above comments that chastised you for writing about this horrifying event. Best of luck on the rest of your honeymoon, and God bless you and your new wife in the coming year.

  30. Sir Marmelade Reply to Sir

    Maybe that smell wasn’t fuel, it was your 15 minutes burning faster than your treo could take pictures.

  31. Sir Marmelade Reply to Sir

    Just curious, did you stand up and scream “Let’s Roll”?

  32. Jeremy,

    I’ve been trying to locate you all morning re: television interview. Can you contact me when you have a moment? (You should be able to see my contact info).

    Glad you and your fiancee (and all other passengers) made it to ground safely.

  33. Jeremy- I saw you on the news yesterday. Emily and I were making dinner and all of a sudden your mug is on my tv. Solid interview, good work!

    –Jody

  34. As others have said, it’s pretty much impossible for you to have smelled burning Avgas (100LL, piston aircraft gasoline). You probably smelled jet exhaust, if anything.

    With a gash in the fuselage, the higher pressure air inside would be rushing out to meet the lower pressure air. No jet engine fumes (“burning JP4”) could come in against that rushing air. Even once the pressures had somewhat equalized, there is still that whole Bernoulli thing to deal with. The air on the outside is going much faster than that inside the airplane, thus causing it to be at a lower pressure. Air is going to continue to try to exit the aircraft through that hole. Even then, assuming all pressures were equalized, you’d have to have a pretty hard eddy current in order for the jet engine exhaust, which is travelling at a very high speed out the back of the engine located behind the hole in the airplane, to swirl back around and enter the plane.

    Regarding the baggage handler, non-union does not mean non-professional or non-qualified. The guy screwed up and should be taken to task for that. He probably will be fired. If he were a union employee, the union brass would fight for the employee and do everything it could to make sure that careless baggage handler didn’t get fired.

  35. for the record, the smell of burning plastic was most likely from the emergency oxygen masks…when the mask is pulled, it creates a chemical reaction in the unit that creates oxygen…heating up the unit to upwards of 500 degrees.

  36. CNN fan Reply to CNN

    First off, I found this site through the CNN report. Nice to hear the actual voice of a blogger. Glad you’re okay. For what it’s worth, my girlfriend and gay neighbor thinks “Jeremy is cute…”

    As for those judgemental techno-idiots Steve Hays and Vince, why don’t you read up on the Treo 650 before making your inflammatory ignorant comments? The Treo 650 is a convergent device which integrates a Palm PDA with a cellphone (and camera). You can turn off the cellphone and continue using the PDA and camera. I work in a hospital where cellphones are not allowed yet I’m able to use the PDA freely. You could have easily found this out on many websites that talk about the Treo, including Amazon.com.

    All electronic devices need to be turned off during takeoff and landing. But I know of no rules that prevent you from using a camera or PDA during the flight. In fact, I’ve seen many people playing games, plannning their schedules, etc midflight — as well as use their laptops.

    So do us a favor and educate yourselves before posting something stupid.

  37. Jeeeesus Jeremy. Let you out of LA for one minute…

    Seriously, though — glad you’re both okay.

  38. Sinto pelo o que aconteceu…..mas preferia que tivesse morrido.

  39. Uouuuuu God glass you!!!!!! Happy New Year.
    Guilherme from Brazil

  40. Jeremy; thanks for sharing a great account of the incident… I hope I never experience anything like it!

    to the post-trolls… seriously; go get a day job. you have way too much free time on your hands! is it really worth it to come here and flex your e-peen on the accuracy of the smell, the dangers of in-flight cameraphone usage, and (ironically) fame mongering.

  41. Jeremy, I’ve realised maybe you didn’t mean anything by mentioning that the worker was non-union (though that is the way it reads), so I’d delete my above comment if I could.

  42. Someone without a stick: Buddy, knowing that jets take jet-a and piston engines used av-gas is pretty fundamental to being a pilot. Something like a trucker knowing that his truck takes diesel fuel. It’s perfectly legitimate who call someone’s ignorance who purports to describe a personal experience as an expert.

    On the union matter: It’s reasonable to assume that union workers would have higher seniority on average (due to higher wages and incumbent worker influence) and therefore be more experienced and less likely to mistakes, especially for a job like baggage handling which would not otherwise require much training. Moreover, the union protections against being fired would make it more likely that this mishap would have been reported to a supervisor rather than keeping quiet and hoping for the best. Are you aware of another in-flight decompression caused by a baggage handler mistake? I didn’t think so.

  43. Pois é, vcs americanos são meio loucos mesmo, fica ai a lição, porra será que nunca vão aprender que não são os melhores do mundo. Todo dia alguem faz uma loucura e dessa vez quase morre um monte e c vcs caissem a culpa ia ser do Bin Laden, porra se cuida cara!

  44. Foda, ainda bem que nao aconteceu nada demais com voces! felicidades e otimos voos daqui pra frente!

  45. É por isso que digo Legalize já!!!!
    Hemp! Hemp!
    hahahahhahahahah!!!!!

  46. Maybe if you werent such a fucking pussy you wouldnt crap your pants that easyer…punk…

  47. Legaliza tb pode funciona…

  48. Sir Marmelade Reply to Sir

    Are you sure this wasn’t a stunt by your fiancee to put off the wedding?

  49. Parents were the most confused – as the masks were too large for their babies’ faces and were not easy to put on in such a panicked situation.

    That’s why they tell you to put your own mask on first, then worry about the kid’s. If you pass out trying to put the mask on him then both of you asphyxiate.

    Glad you’re OK.

    OBTW, if you ever update this page, it’s “URL”, not “URI”.

  50. Olá ta sou brasileira sei que não vai entender o que eu escrevo…..mas que bom que deu tudo certo!!!!I am happy for you to be well!
    Happy new year, that god illuminates its way and of its fiancé!

    Kiss…..Juliana I’from Brazil

  51. E aí cara, nossa, q história loka hein meu, ahuahauha, se fosse eu tava piradão até agora, uhuhu, pois é, é cada coisa q nos acontece né, pqp… Hhauahuahauah, se fu…

  52. The smell you encountered was probably the Oxegen genarators firing above your head when you pulled the mask down.

    As for the phone issue. They have caused problems with the cargo fire detetectors in the past, causing them to indicate smoke/fire in the pits on some aircraft. This problem has somewhat been solved, but no one is 100% sure. There is still some concern that they can cause problems with older navigation systems.

  53. BTW, FWIW, etc., the greenish tone is a product of the flourescent lights used in the aircraft. Your brain auto-filters the green, so you “see” white for things your brain knows are white, etc. Cameras catch the putrescent green in all its glory.

  54. Sir Marmelade Reply to Sir

    If Opie & Anthony (XM Satellite Radio ch. 202) were on this flight, this would have never happened.

  55. Joel Nunes Reply to Joel

    GRAÇAS A DEUS NINGUEM SE FERIUUUU!!!!

    DESEJO A TODOS OS PASSAGEIROS QUE ESQUEÇAM ESSA MAL LEMBRANÇA, POR CAUSA DE UM FUNCIONÁRIO INRESPONSAVEL!!!

    ABRAÇOS

    JOEL NUNES
    BRASIL

  56. Jeremy

    Did you edit some of the comments here on your board? Some of the comments seam to have gotten smaller in size and content? Hmm… Makes me wonder, do you not like all of the truth to come out?

  57. Hi Jeremy, can you tell me what kind of a pilot you are licensed for? Interesting story.

  58. So when you exited the plane, did they say “Thank you for flying Alaska”?

  59. Mr. Hermanns…..you aren’t a pilot are you? You are not in the FAA Airman Database…..You removed my first post when I brought this to your attention. Why not tell the world you took a fight lesson a while ago….You like Top Gun and you fly MS Flight Sim in your underwear…

    I guess the truth hurts! I dare you to leave this message. I’ll be back!

    CAPT X

  60. You pussy!

    Leave up all of the post! Every one has a right to read and write about what they think of your experiance!

  61. I think Bin Laden is the guilty!!!

  62. Inflight emergencies , no matter how small , are no picnic for those who are actually involved. People who are seated comfortably at home watching everything unfold on CNN have the luxury of pointing out trivial it all was in the end. Shame on you ! Until something “trivial” happens to you personally, you have no right to judge a passenger”s reaction to it. I’m a flight attendant and have had more than one emergency myself. No fun.
    The “burning plastic” smell was indeed the smell of the chemical generators from the oxygen masks. Some describe it more as a scorched cloth smell.
    As for the “non-union” comment, he has a point. A company person would have at least reported it right away. His family members ,friends and colleges and even he would be traveling on this plane at some point. Im not saying that outside vendors do a bad job. Im saying that a person who has a personal stake in the company may be a bit more careful and thorough.

  63. Jeremy,

    Did it become COLD after the air leaked out of the plane?

    Usually the outside temperature is like minus 50 degrees or so at cruising altitude.

  64. Hopefully that baggage handler is in a holding cell facing (crew plus passengers) counts of attempted murder (murder by omission/failure to act).

  65. Orion: URI is also correct, but is more generic. URL=Uniform Resource Locator; URI=Uniform Resource Identifier

    Ralph: This is not a public forum it is Jeremy’s personal web page, so everyone does not have a “right” to comment here. If you want to make disparaging remarks get your own blog.

  66. I fail to see any positive affect from the trash talkers comments on this post. You need to “get a life” people, fast.

  67. I guess I’m kind of disgusted but not terribly surprised at some of the vicious comments on this board. Have you people tried, and I’m quite serious about this, getting some professional help? And thanks so much for your valiant efforts to make society suck just that little bit more.

  68. Glad things turned out well. I came to the blog to read the account. Instead, what truly amazes me are those who nitpicked their way through the post, as well as those who took the time to write denigrating comments with no redeeming value. Despite the wonders and genuine safety of modern air travel, when things go wrong, they can go bad very quickly. Its not cowardly to be deeply concerned given the circumstances as described. As I read, I thought of Alaska Airlines 261, a few years ago. I believe it was also an MD-80, that had a jack screw failure in the tail assembly. That didn’t end so well. I commend you on providing the real time documentation, and to be quite frank, I’m not all that concerned about any detail you may have missed. I hope that you and your young lady have a long and prosperous life together.

  69. E voce não tirou fotos do buraco porque?
    Don’t you make photos of acident in airplane?

    Gostei do comentário lé em cima.. qual deles.. adivinhe!!!!

  70. While this maybe a private domain, please have the balls to post all comments. Not edit it to serve your own purpose as the public will read this site based on your comments to the media.

    The truth is not always pleasant, but every one has a right to prove or disprove his comments. i.e. he’s not a licenced pilot, it’s jet-A not av gas, etc.

  71. The burning odor: This is the result of the oxygen generators operating. They get very hot and tend to burn any dust/grease/debris nearby. The fuel vents on MD-80s are on the wingtips, so it’s unlikely that’s what you smelled.

    The “non union” baggage handler: What nobody has addressed here is that a union baggage handler is protected by contractual rights which mean he could not be summarily fired, and would thus be more likely to report this type of problem. Employees with union protection aren’t perfect, but are in a position where they don’t have to fear reporting this type of situation or others (such as the Valuejet/everglades crash) where they’ve been ordered to do something illegal and/or dangerous.

    Cell Phones: A cell phone isn’t going to cause the aircraft to split-s into the ground, but it can interfere with various instrument or comparator functions that can result in the aircraft requiring higher approach minimums than normal – if a cell phone or other device did cause that problem and visibility at SEA was less than .5 miles, you probably wouldn’t enjoy having to fly to Yakima or Moses Lake because SEA was below minimums.

  72. The negative comments are remarkable. Jeremy – Sorry this happened; and then you get molested in the comments section of your own blog..that’s just weak.

    Joel

  73. Ola Jeremy, Sou de São Paulo, Brasil, e sua História ja chegou nesses cantos aqui também, só tenho a dizer que foi muita sorte a sua hein.

  74. Jeremy –

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Your story might help someone else remain calm when they go through something similar.

    I apologize for all the rude posts on this board. Some people just don’t know how to behave in public. Some people are hyper-critical (and therefore miss the point entirely), and others are just highly self-centered. Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

    God Bless!

  75. While I’m glad everything turned out alright, the non-union status of the handler is not only irrelevant, it’s what you asked for. Because I’m sure that when you purchased the tickets, you didn’t seek the most expensive, unionized carrier; you simply searched for the cheapest ticket. Moreover, it’s not like union employees don’t have mishaps and fail to report them, either.

    Everyone complains about airline service — but there isn’t a single human being on the face of this earth that ever called a travel agent and asked for the most expensive ticket money can buy. You wanna get a meal on your next flight? Then don’t try to chisel that last $2.27 of the price of the ticket every time you fly.

    Personally, I hope the world economic dynamic gives “cheap” a rest for awhile and moves toward “quality”. Because I’m tired of buying dirt cheap everything and having to throw it away and replace it 12 months later. I will happily pay more for something that performs and endures.

  76. Marcos Laeber Reply to Marcos

    Geremias, você deveria morrer naquele dia, mas nao morreu, então tenha cuidado. o anjo da morte sempre volta.

    Marcos Laeber From Sri Lanka.

  77. F/O 777 Reply to F/O

    I think rather than indulging peoples sympathy you should be crediting the pilots and flight crews skill and training during the emergency. It’s because of them that you’re alive to post this blog today. All you did was sit there shit yourself and snap a couple pictures. Obviously YOU ARE NOT A PILOT otherwise you would know that pilots constantly train for emergencies no matter the severity. ATP (airline transport pilots) pilots have sim training sessions every 6 months, where they practice an emergency such as this.

  78. Someone earlier asked how it is that a cell phone can bring down an aircraft. Well genius , it can’t. HOWEVER, if everyone had and was using their cell phones, pda , wireless devices and anything and everything else during an instrument landing, there could be a problem. Do you want to find out? Well I dont. The reason we have to tell you to turn off that cd player before we take off isn’t because it is dangerous . It’s because EVERYONE has an electronic device of some sort. And instead of taking time to see which ones emit a signal, the rule is they all go off. Plain and simple.
    So you can’t use your cell phone for a few hours…BIG DEAL ! If they were actually allowed it would create more problems than it solves.
    By the way , the cell phone companies were looking for ways to make NEW cellphone and satellite signals safe for airplane use not necessarily the old ones. Boon for the cell phone companies , not for you.

  79. I’m so glad that you, your fiancee, and everyone else on the plane is all right. Ignore the assholes who are coming out to play in your comment section. Some people are just petty and mean and aren’t worth a second thought.

  80. SEU FILHA DE UMA PUTA!!!!!
    VAI TOMA NO SEU CÚ!!!
    SUA MÃE TÁ NA ZONA
    FUCK OFF!

  81. Let’s not be so quick to jump on the baggage handler. The airline did the same thing the customers did, bought the cheapest service availible. You get what you pay for!! Blame the management, not the employee! Firing the employee solves nothing, they just hire another person FROM THE SAME LABOR POOL. Who do you think applys for these jobs, people, phd’s? Expect a lot more crashes.

    Oh, by the way, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “PERSONAL” WEBLOG. “Personal” is for diaries.

  82. Jeremy,
    Glad you’re safe and sound and great post on what it’s like to go through such a thing. Glad to have you back on solid ground again.

  83. David Besser Reply to David

    I dunno… the oxygen mask looks like it was photoshopped into a self pic on the plane

  84. Ficou famoso.. heimm!!!! todo mundo já leu sua notícia aqui no brazil !!!!!!

    boa sorte daqui para frente…

    beijos

  85. David Besser Reply to David

    Jeremy,

    You should have put your collar down before taking the picture, that look hasn’t been cool for 20 years.

    O&A Rocks – XMRADIO CH. 202

  86. Jeremy,

    I’ve been in an “inflight incident” before. It’s impossible to communicate to others who haven’t experienced it. To me, it’s the lack of control or awareness in the situation that was the worst.

    Wan’t that Alaska crash a few years back (the famous ‘jack-screw’ failure) blamed on cost cutting on maintainance? Sound like a pattern with them.

    Unfortunately there is no surprise on some of the comments. Even the trash of humanity can find the internet these days.

    Thanks for the post and glad to hear you all made it through without a scratch.

  87. Thanks for the article and pics. It is truly amazing to see what really happens as opposed to what the mass media shows or portrays.

    The Lockerbie 747 crash reconstruction photos I have seen showed a small blast hole that was no more than a foot or so wide and located on the underside of the plane. This hole in the front of the plane became a long torn off strip wrapping around the plane and widening to 10 or more feet. (Pics available somewhere on the web.) That is what happens at full 600+ knots and 30,000+ feet altitude.

    Needless to say, in that case the structural integrity of the 747 failed when the strip around the plane was torn off, and it broke up.

    You are very lucky!

    PS, I have been on many airline flights on jets (747 and smaller) on which I have smelled jet fuel and/or jet exhaust when the plane was taking off, in-flight, on the ground, or especially when the gear doors were opened for landing.

  88. Many years ago, I was on a flight which lost a cargo door, upstream from the engines.

    The jet exhaust smell was overwhelming.

    The individual “fisking” this assertion above is talking through his . . . er . . . hat.

  89. UNBELIEVABLE JEREMY!

    By the way… here’s the instruction manual that Alaska Airlines uses.

    http://www.the-rocketman.com/images/scrap-book/OXAGEN-MASK-NORTHWEST.jpg

  90. I totally did CAPT X’s daughter with an airplane steering wheel last night.

  91. Que loucura … mas graças a Deus deu tudo certo.

    Um abraço.

    Thiago Anjos
    BRASIL

  92. The blond stewardess in the picture looks hot – your death-defying oxygen mask pictures are OK, but do you have any more pics of her?

  93. Did any of the little kids need mouth-to-mouth?

  94. VC NÃO TIROU FOTOS DO BURACO?
    QUIS FOTOS RUIM MEU……………………

  95. Rodrigo Pacheco Reply to Rodrigo

    Com certeza os momentos que passou serão guardados para sempre na memória, e que isso sirva de lição para o Brasil e para o Mundo também.
    Um abraço de um brasileiro !!

  96. first, could you fags please write in english? and B, why couldn’t people just hold their breath instead of using those lame masks.

  97. fui eu q furei pq?? soh pq eu so fodaaaaaaa hahah meti meu bagulho no ferrro e furo! massa neh? meu treis oitaumm , meu kilometrico

  98. It’s so amazing even in light of such a dangerous incident the anti-union right wingers are trying to spin it. Ah Brian .. you loser,,, the union mechanic most likely wouldn’t have done it, and would have likely reported it if he did,, because he would have known he had the union behind him. As for Alaska Air in general, they have gone from being one of the best airlines to one of the worst in the last few years.
    On a personal note I will be off on yet another international flight a day from now and I’m sure I’ll be watching that safety demo a bit closer this time..
    Thanks for the great reporting Jeremy!

  99. lol brow ki cara anta fazer um furo no aviao HUUDEUH ele devei dar na seca e meteu a pica no aviao HUDEUED 🙂

  100. Excellent post. It’s unusual that we get such a detailed account with pictures.

    It’s also good that your story shows that the system functioned as it should. The masks dropped, the pilot dove, and you were breathing again at 10K.

    This PP-ASEL thinks you’ve done a fine job here and to ignore the trolls.

  101. Thanks for the post Jeremy, what a terrifying experience. I’m glad that nobody was hurt. That baggage handler should be put on trial for attempted murder of all the passengers of flight 536.

  102. Jeremy: I am just glad that you, your fiancee, and the other 140 or souls onboard that flight are okay.

    As for people posting, I think basic decency and fairness are called for in making comments anonymously, as they do in face-to-face contact. So what if he makes a mistake between AV gas or jp4 or burning plastic or used his cell phone or treo or whatever. That is not the point. The point is this guy had a really bad experience, lived to write about it, and now we can all learn from that experience. Or not. The choice is up to each person individually. But disparaging Jeremey in a degrading manner is never gonna teach anybody anything.

    Am not sure what to make of the MSM comments. I can’t believe that the media is trying to cover up scary in-flight incidents. Read USA Today, which gets more out of plane tragedies than anybody around. And since the cable nets covered it, where exactly is the MSM-airline industry cabal?

    I am very distressed about the baggage handler, as we should all be. Either he was not aware what happened, acted like it didn’t matter or didn’t know it was important, or some variation of all of the above. However you look at it, it’s really bad news. He’s either ignorant, a coward or woefully undertrained to be doing such a job around airplanes.

    So let’s all calm down, especially you pilots out there, and learn something from this or not. Otherwise, leave it alone, go out and talk a walk or a nap or maybe see your doctor about upping your dosage of whatever you are on.

    All the best to Jeremy et al. Happy New Year. John

  103. As a frequent flyer, not committed to any particular airline, I found your account of the incident fascinating. I am wondering if the NTSB has contacted you for a report.

    But, more fascinating is that a few posting-rats temporarily scurried over from Yahoo! to waste a little more of their employer’s time (presumably they’re employed) to nit-pick your story. I must admit, I scanned most of the posts because of their infantile comments. I am most amazed that the string has yet to lapse into the familiar Bush Sucks!/Bush Rules! tirade (or, is that there in the Portuguese and I’m just not reading it?).

    Great work!

  104. I’ve never had any problems with air travel, however, without really knowing the full details, my brother-in-law (who flew bombers for the US Navy) flew out of O’Hare around 1989, and he witnessed pressurized fluid streaming out from a wing as they taxied to the runway. He said he immediately ran to the cockpit (pre-9/11) and informed them. He was never told what the liquid was, but they did turn around and he was thanked profusely.

  105. Frumps… don’t fret about the comments from Brazil in Portugese.. unlike yours they are complimentary and compassionate.

  106. Ric Locke Reply to Ric

    Fumes — the air in the airplane comes from the engines; part of what they suck in is diverted to the cabin for air conditioning. Any fumes emitted from forward of the engines will be sucked in and spread through the cabin. The odor of the oxygen generators adds to that.

    In addition, low pressure itself can create smells. They aren’t real, just the chemosensors in the nose responding to the change in pressure, but they can be quite sharp and unpleasant even so. The most common report is something similar to burning sulfur (“matches”).

    The “strange” language in the comments is mostly Portuguese. If you can’t read it, how does it feel to know you’re dumber than a ten-year-old Rio street kid? 🙂

    Regards,
    Ric

  107. Jay, you obviously don’t know the difference between JP4 and AV-GAS, so please just keep your opinions to yourself.

  108. As for why it matters regarding Avgas/Jet Fuel, etc, is that it leaves doubts as to his credibility. He says that he’s a licensed private pilot, and then he makes an error on a subject that literally every pilot would know, it makes you doubt his story. Also, assuming those posts are true, if he is not a licensed airman, it leaves more doubt to his story. Call it grandstanding, exaggeration, embellishment, or just plain lying to get on TV.

  109. Com certeza Immanuel Kant tem uma boa resposta para este evento.
    Surely Immanuel Kant has a good answer for this occurrence.

  110. I’m amazed at some of the comments. A guy practically live blogs a news event complete with pictures and all some people can do is criticize, nitpick useless issues that they have no knowledge of and call him a baby? (I’d love to see these people’s reactions had THEIR plane sprung a hole. I’m sure they would’ve laughed in the face of death.)

    Why the bitterness? Why the vitriol?

    This is a glimpse into the future where those who go through newsworthy events have the power to give their perspective WITHOUT going through the MSM filter. If you think that’s boring or stupid or whiny…WTF? He’s a blogger…with a camera…who goes through a scary air emergency…you expect him NOT to blog it?

  111. Realmente é uma pena que vocês não tenham morrido. Também é uma pena que você não entenda o que metade destes posts quer dizer… Suas fotos estão muito ruins… cara você é muito burro! O pior de tudo é esse climinha que você explica as coisas… você tem problemas sexuais só, ou é pior que isso?!?!

  112. I flew them for over a year and spent maybe $10-12K with them. They recently sent me some Harry & David nuts to try and woo me back. I hated the MD-80, but us Golds usually flew it in 1st class so it wasn’t so bad. They were nice folks, printed Bible verses on little placecards on your meal tray.
    If they are sending you nastygrams from their own IP that’s not a very Christian thing to do, now is it.
    Seriously, management needs to retire that MD-80 airframe before someone gets seriously hurt–it’s a piece of CRAP. Look how well Southwest has done by sticking with the 737.
    Get some balls Alaska, maybe I’ll come back.

  113. I know one thing: if I had been aboard that flight, I would have added considerably to the smells in the cabin. And to the general atmosphere, later, when I had to burn my underwear!

  114. On Air Canada long ago, probably the late 60s, they blew a door seal, which produced an actual cloud in the aisle but no oxygen mask drop, and (my concern) cancelled breakfast service. They dove to a breatheable altitude and flew back to the airport. They dealt with the passenger problem by not letting anybody off the plane while they put in a new door seal, and we went back on our way. Things were more casual back then.

    That was in the days of spit and CAB approved duct tape.

  115. I’m amazed at some of the dumb ass comments in this thread- I’d bet if you were on a plane, there was a loud bang, all the masks popped out of the ceiling and the pilot started jamming for 10,000 feet most of you would need an underware change.

  116. I just wanted to say thanks for posting these interesting photos and for telling us about your experience. I cannot believe the amount of scumbags who have criticized you on your own web page.

  117. “I’m amazed at some of the dumb ass comments in this thread- I’d bet if you were on a plane, there was a loud bang, all the masks popped out of the ceiling and the pilot started jamming for 10,000 feet most of you would need an underware change.”

    Maybe, but at least I’d know enough to switch my camera’s white balance off of “auto”. Just leaving some doubts as to his credibility as a photographer.

  118. Your post is very creditable, including the smells. It’s entirely possible that you smelled jet fuel, airflow very close to the skin of the airplane can travel in any direction. It’s also possible that a fuel line was damaged.

    Do we know that this baggage cart incident really happened? The pilots surely would not have departed had they been aware of such an event without having maintenace check the airframe for damage. It’s hard to picture an object hitting an airliner and nobody remarking on it at the time.

    I know there is a lot of bad feeling towards these ramp sub-contractors in the aviation world. The rumors are that these sub-contractors hire people off the street at very low hourly wages, provide them minimal training, and turn them lose on the ramp. Certainly one of these very low wage rampers is the least powerful person involved in the flight, and therefore might be a good scapegoat for speculation.

    The prior commenter who mentioned the postive safey value of transportation unions was correct.

  119. “Maybe, but at least I’d know enough to switch my camera’s white balance off of “auto”. Just leaving some doubts as to his credibility as a photographer.”

    See reference to “dumb ass comments” and thanks for providing an example.

  120. Jeremy,

    Thanks for the write up and great work with the pics. It’s amazing that these idiots would labor on about you using the incorrect nomenclature of fuel that the MD80 uses but then be ridiculously inaccurate with the utilization of your PDA.

    Now I am not a pilot or an expert in the field of aviation, but I can tell you that if I were to smell anything burning in conjunction with cabin depressurization, rapid descent and the appearance of oxygen masks, you would be lucky to smell fuel after I had soiled myself.

    The bottom line here is I wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass if they filled the tanks with 89 octane from the corner Rotten Robbie, if I smell anything remotely similar to gas under those circumstances, I am immediately regretting not being a full fledged member of the illustrious mile high club and will start doing math in my head to calculate if there is enough time to remedy the omission from my life’s accomplishments.

    For those who wish to lash out at the blog, please just go away. We really don’t give a crap what you think…we just enjoy dudes story.

    DS

  121. Sorry but you lose points for smelling Avgass on a jet plane…Avgas and JetA smell nothing alike and there was no avgas (I’d hope anyway) on a jet.
    MD80’s, DC9s and MD90 planes are noted for jet and hydraulic fumes getting in the cabin (a class action is or was being processed for attendants suffering from ails blamed on the breathing of said fumes) and the hydraulic fluid used is very, very nasty smelling stuff.
    You also griped about the non-union worker and needed to clear up why this is a possibly good gripe .
    I was a former non-union fueler for SWA.

    I have seen the very thing done to planes by union workers…the difference?…”I won’t lose my job over this” so it gets reported, The times I saw it happen the plane was grounded until ground maint. could fix it or it was transferred to a repair hub at a low alt. empty.
    The basic rule of all ground handling is report any and all damage to the pilot. As this showed…anything can kill.
    But, as I’m sure the pilot of the SWA flight that went long off the runway in Burbank will tell you (if you can find the desk he is most likely flying), The Pilot is always right,even when he is wrong.

  122. Fascinating story. Thanks for sharing it.

    I get the feeling that all the people who are suggesting that you are merely whining all have really brave stories about some bad turbulence they once went through.

  123. “See reference to “dumb ass comments” and thanks for providing an example.”

    So you would used the fluorescent setting too? Same here, that’s why this whole story is starting to sound fishy.

  124. Matt,

    You can blow a hole in the fuselage of a 737 too if you run a ground vehicle into it. This accident had nothing to do with the MD-80 aircraft (for those of you bringing up Flight 261) and everything to do with the negligent actions of the baggage handler.

    The non-union comment made by Jeremy is somewhat valid, altough there are airlines that employ non-union bag handlers (or ramp agents) and don’t have this problem. Delta comes to mind. The problem is when you contract these services out to the lowest bidder like Alaska did. What you end up with is employees who are poorly paid and usually aren’t the brightest people working out on the airfield. I hope this incident causes Alaska to reasess it’s cost cutting methods.

    Thanks for sharing Jeremy.

  125. Nice report. Glad you lived to blog the tale. I’d get married immediately!

    I fly all the time and if the plane is going down, I will be taking pictures if I can. Hopefully, they will find my memory card in tact, if I do not survive the ordeal. The investigators can use the added help with the investigations and I am sure the world would like to know what happened.

    Thanks for sharing.

  126. Congrats on having a safe landing. I have flown commercial a lot (and like you am a GA pilot, http://imran.com/flying/ working to some day finish my license) and this kind of think is always in the back of my mind.

    Someone dear to me did lose her father in a South African Airways jumbo jet crash about 18 years ago, and that loss remains with her today. So, your family is also lucky to have you.

    I am curious if there was a hole and rapid decompression of the plane, did you see anything fly around (persumably towards the hole in the plane)? It is difficult to see any papers and such things flying around in the pics.

    I have to say, I STRONGLY support requiring airlines to use LICENSED shops to do their maintenance, I am also no big fan of unions. So, I think commercial aviation is at far greater risk from airlines saving money and going to cheap and poorly trained vendors more than whether a baggage handler is a member of a union or not. There are plenty of accidents and crashes caused by UNION members’ mistakes.

    Thanks.

    Imran
    http://imran.com/media/blog/

  127. It’s amazing so many folks are rushing to protect Alaska from negative press. Do they pay Alaska Airline employees like John to sit about all day and “anti-blog”? Come on guys, they got caught, they have an “incident” every couple of years. Be thankful you didn’t get to experience the thrill of flying inverted for some 12 minutes only to ultimately drown in the Pacific.

    Tearing the aluminum off the outside of the hull could have quite easily predicated the total structural failure of the airframe. All of you Alaska employees trying to minimize it and make it seem like some routine event aren’t serving anyone, not even your own “agendas” whatever they might be.
    Let the guy have his say, he might be a little edgy after such an encounter. I personally would have demanded another Macs or two and several more bags of nuts. And I totally would not have filled out the VISA application, even if I did get a free chocolate. Kids may fly free to Disneyland, but you have to get south of Port Hueneme.

  128. i wish i had some smart correction to make gleaned from watching all those episodes of Air Disaster on the Discovery Channel and reading airliners.net and Salon’s “ask the pilot”, but alas, all the other genius out there seem to have beat me to the punch in the “correcting every little possible detail in your entry” game. i love the URI comment; for some reason that one made me laugh out loud. internet, you rock.

    in any case, thanks for sharing. great stuff, and glad you’re okay. (and yes, contrary to some comments, you very well could not have been – small cracks in the fuselage have had far more catastrophic results in previous incidents- dammit, the temptation to throw in my $0.02 is just too great to resist!)

  129. “So you would used the fluorescent setting too?”

    You ever think that he used whatever setting was handy and was under some stress? You act like the event didn’t happen because the color in his pictures was off.

  130. Frumps – Jeremy clearly stated he took the pictures with the camera in his Treo 650. There -is- no ‘white balance’ adjustment, it’s a phone with a primitive light-gathering device and digital storage.

  131. comfortably numb Reply to comfortably

    I think the level of meanness in some of the comments reflects the effectiveness of blogging as a news dissemination mechanism.

    MSM, meet your match.

  132. b. elzlebub Reply to b.

    i’d be interested to see if all the negative comments are from the same ip. alaskan’s, perhaps?

  133. Tiny Elvis Reply to Tiny

    …but Alaska gives out those bomb Honey Roasted Fisher peanuts! And I don’t know about you, but they gave me a free $20 gift certificate to McCormick & Schmick’s for my recent troubles…

  134. First off to all of those who belittle what this person has been through, shame on you! VERY few experienced pilots have a real decompression at altitude. While we train in the sim, it is never quite the same.

    as I have over 5000 flying hours in the dc9 (little brother to the md80) I would love to ask a few questions. I hope the author of this thread will write me directly.

    could the smell you describe be from the oxygen generators used to supply your mask? it is a chemical process, unlike older planes that just had a big oxygen cylinder and plumbing to get the oxygen to your mask.

    Again, you people who are making fun of the situation, I remind you that just months ago all aboard a boeing 737 in greece died from a similiar, though not identical problem.

    jeremy, if you would like to chat, jondc9@aol.com is my e mail.

    if I were you, I would get legal consul. steve spielberg’s sister won 2.7 million from american for a turbulence encounter.

    jon

    Could the ”smell” bur

  135. Gabe,

    The fact that you can destroy a 737 in the same manner you can an MD-80, does not mean that the MD-80 doesn’t completely suck ass as an aircraft. It’s like flying in a frigging cigar tube. They smell funny when the gear is down and those smells AMLOST ALWAYS enter the cabin during taxi and on takeoff. I do not feel safe in them, and they have much more sordid history than the Boeing. And how frigging old are they for crying out loud? The company that made them is no longer in business. Retire them!!

  136. I noticed you said, and I quote, “tore a hole in it’s fuselage at 30K feet,” when I, as both a professional pilot and certified expert on elevation, know that the maximum flight elevation this particular aircraft can achieve is 29K feet. Also, I note that you do not have any photos of the flight gauges showing the exact elevation while this was going on. Further, the color of the air visible through the windows indicates an elevation of no more than 28K feet. Therefore, I have jumped to the conclusion that you made up the entire story and are clearly just trying to bash Alaska Airlines.

  137. Jesus some people are arseholes.

    1. I don’t care how tough you are, if your plane might be crashing you are going to feel uncomfortable.

    2. While I am usually opposed to unions, it is true that the unions in this situation generally provide a higher quality labor force, and this may be one example. Of course it may not. We shall see.

    3. Alaska Airlines is actually a very good airline. I am a frequent flyer with several major airlines, and let me tell you – they all kind of suck. Alaska is one of the better ones.

    4. David Besser: What the heck? What is that supposed to be a joke or what? Besides, that is a Southwest plane in that picture – not Alaska….

  138. They do a lot of miles in a media-centric (West Coast) market they get scrutinized more than some other carriers, that’s for sure. I loved flying Alaska, their flight attendants, crew and pilots were all top notch. They have some issues, all air carriers have issues. Would I fly them again–absolutely!
    I put my wife & son on a miles flight back in June and they had a great time at Disneyland and visiting friends and family in So Cal.
    I have several good friends flying Alaska from PDX to LAX day after tomorrow.
    It was an ACCIDENT and it wasn’t related to aircraft maintenance or pilot error or any of that.

  139. Bob Garner Reply to Bob

    GG, I assume you’re trolling. The service ceiling on an MD80 is well above FL290, think it goes to around FL390 (39000 feet).

    Color of the air? Sheesh, if you’re going to be a smartass try to be more subtle – that’s too obvious you’re screwing around.

  140. Muito emocionante sua viagem!!!

  141. Unfortunately, union status probably is relevant. While you can argue the merits, the union workers get more protection and don’t have negative incentives to report accidents. I’m not pro-union, but I can see how this made a difference.

  142. Good for you Hermanns, stick it to Alaska. I had a UPS blog post that got the same treatment from UPS employees.

  143. Glad the plane was able to land safely. But what I really like is the picture of the Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger on your website. Jack-in-the-Box is the best. They should open up an airline. That would rule.

    And thanks for relaying your tale…interesting stuff.

    Happy New Year.

    – Eric

  144. Man, some people need to get a life! If this was my blog I’d be deleting all the negative comments! The guy was scared shitless as anyone would be, took some pictures and reported what he saw and felt. End of story. Good reporting in my opinion. And it is HIS BLOG. If you don’t like or agree with what he has to say, change the channel!

  145. http://www.fark.com

    Congrats, you pilot-guy. Sensationalistic reporting at its best. Decompress, descend. Terrifying, panick, fear!

    Sheesh.

  146. The name I put on your site is fake. KIRO TV Channel 7 is not. Watch the 6:00 news tonight. More of the truth comes out! Jaw dropping to say the least.

    Thank God you are all ok. I tried to get this to stop before it happened, and sadly it almost took lives to do it.

  147. Glad to hear you had a safe landing and I thank you for your riveting narrative.

    FRUMP, John, et al: Oh, please let me have your children. I am so IMPRESSED with your knowledge and courage to post your benevolence in a blog comments that I can hardly control my breathing! The way you write tells me that you must all have big brass ones to go with your humoungous shaft of love.

    Sorry, Jeremy and all other decent folks. I just couldn’t resist.

  148. The age of the aircraft or the fact that McDonnell Douglas was bought by Boeing in 1997 has absolutely nothing to do with this incident. Take a look at Northwest Airlines for instance. Northwest currently has DC-9’s in the air today that are 37 and 38 years old and still going strong. Regardless of how old an aircraft is (and really an aircraft’s age is measured in takeoff/landing cycles than it is by years), if it is properly maintained they are just as safe as the day they were built. The MD-80 is an extremely reliable aircraft with an excellent service record. The facts are that the integrity of the fuselage was compromised when the baggage handler struck the aircraft with a piece of machinery, he/she failed to report the incident, and as a result the lives of everyone on the flight were put in jeopardy. Thankfully, due to the excellent design of the aircraft and the skill and professionalism exhibited by the cabin crew the flight returned safely. It amazes me that people who know so little about aviation seem to know so much about it at the same time…

  149. I think it’d serve everyone’s interest, Jeremy, if you’d make public the comments you tracked to Alaskan Airlines.

    What a pathetic attempt to discredit a customer’s perspective of events that happened mid-air.

    I’ve flown Alaskan loyally for much of the past five years that I’ve lived on the West Coast. While I can’t condemn the airline for an accident like the one you endured, I can (and most certainly will) hold them responsible for these childish online games.

    PR hacks? I think not. All the PR people I know can at least run a spell-check correctly.

    I’ll be distributing these comments throughout my company, who does an enormous amount of business with Alaskan.

    That will no longer be the case.

    I’m glad you and the others are safe, Jeremy. God bless.

  150. Good post Brian, I would like to add that the certified ceiling of the MD-83 is 37,000 ft, not 29K. In addition, the company that made the plane is still very much in business, perhaps you have heard of it…The Boeing Company (McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997). Furthermore McDonnell Douglas…errrr Boeing is still making 717’s and C-17’s at their facility in Long Beach, CA.

  151. Bryan,

    The MD-80 sucks and it’s old. If Northwest continues to fly 37-38 year old aircraft that’s good to know, and one more good reason not to fly that particular airline.

    It is silliness to suggest that 37 year old aluminum-hulled aircraft which are EXTREMELY prone to corrosion (with Boeing now abandoning it as a hull material), not to mention takeoff/landing cycles somehow magically escape environmental fatigue and are “just as safe as the day they were built”.
    Boeing hardly “merged” with a flailing McDonnell Douglas as much as they acquired their assets at a corporate fire sale.
    And…FYI…the C-17 sucks too!

  152. The white balance seems a little off on your camera phone.

  153. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for not removing the kids’ postings, they’re actually amusing. And by the year after next, those same kids will be losing arms and legs in Syria, Iran, North Korea, and a half dozen other countries, so let them have fun while they can.

  154. “The MD-80 sucks and it’s old.”

    Which has no bearing on the fact the plane was damaged before flight causing the incident not some defect of design or age.

    The fact they made it back safe could speak well of the design in fact.

    Or just dumb luck.

  155. The MD83 (which this aircraft was) has a maximum operating altitude of 37000 feet.

    Yes, the smell was from the oxygen generators, which do indeed reach a temperature of 500 degrees due to the chemical reaction. The aircraft manual itself states: “An odor similar to scorched cloth may be created by activation of generators. The odor does not affect the purity of the oxygen and there is no fire hazard.”

    There wasn’t any more “engine noise”. The engines are at idle in an emergency descent, as well as in a normal descent. The only difference between a normal an emergency descent is the rate of descent. You point the nose lower and go down faster. At 26,000 feet you are probably climbing at 290-310 knots. An emergency descent could take you as high as 340 kts. This, along with the speedbrakes being extended, can produce a lot of extra noise, with or without a 1 foot hole in the fuselage.

    In cases where there is structural damage suspected, (which is very difficult to determine) the pilots will descend at a slower speed to avoid causing further damage, i.e. “don’t make the hole bigger”.

    Judging by the reports of less creative passengers, the slightly louder air noise was most likely from the air escaping through the hole in the fuselage.

    Enough facts, here’s my 2 cents:
    The baggage handler situation at Alaska is a joke, yes. They basically busted a union of proud employees that produced the best successful baggage service in the business. But it is compounded by a combination of poor airline management encouraging passengers these days to demand to fly across the country for $150. This isn’t Walmart, folks. You are flying in an airplane with a couple of hundred thousand moving parts, a supporting cast of hundreds for each flight, and 2 pilots that average 20 years of experience. And you expect to get to Disneyland for half of what it would cost you to drive there. It’s the airlines’ fault for creating their own problem, but the next time you fly, just try appreciate what exactly you are getting for your money.

    The pilots of this flight took a 26% and 32% arbitrated pay cut (depending on which seat they were sitting in) 7 months ago from a profitable airline. They should be commended for handling this incident “business as usual.”

  156. What’s all this “thank God” stuff? Aircrew competence is a product of human agencies, as is groundcrew competence, if any. Divine intervention is not involved.

    And no need to worry about the baggage handler as scapegoat. When the FAA gets through with it, it will be “pilot error” – it just about always is. (Unless NTSB gets there first. I don’t know who NTSB usually blames.)

  157. So then Matt, tell us, what are your criteria to consider an aircraft to be “new” enough to be safe? I’m sure the FAA would like to hear about it since there are a couple thousand DC-9’s and MD-80’s in service today. According to your philosophy the millions of passengers carried on them are in grave danger then. As far as corrosion is concerned, the aircraft are treated for corrosion before being painted and the paint actually acts as an anti-corrosion agent itself. All aircraft on the US civil aviation register today are held to the same safety requirements and standards whether it be a 1970’s generation DC-9, 727, or a brand new A320. There is a reason for D-checks (or heavy maintenance), and part of the process is combing over the aircraft looking for stress, fatigue, corrosion, etc. If the aircraft are unfit for service they would not be in the air rest assured due to the legal repercussions the airline would undergo in the event that one of their birds goes down. We often fear what we do not know…

  158. Glad you’re both safe; better travel next time and good on ye for the photos. (Shame about the trolls, of course, especially if it’s truly Alaska-generated FUD. Of course some of us Seattleites have been avoiding that airline since Flight 261 back in 2000; we got a look at their maintenance stylee and didn’t like what we saw…)

  159. Man if i was on the plane i would have lit a cig up and crapped my pants!!!!!!!!!!!

  160. Don’t see what the big deal is, the masks drop all the time, it’s a bit unnerving, but not as frightening as, say, someone holding you hostage on a plane

  161. Jack Eldredge Reply to Jack

    Note to Jeremy’s fiancee — did it bother you at all that Jeremy was more interested in taking crappy TREO pics than in coming back to see if you were okay? Now wait, I’m sure someone reading this will say “hey, they told him to sit down and buckle up, it was a panic situation, yada, yada.” Oh spare me – if it was your wife, fiancee, or girlfriend, wouldn’t YOU have taken any action necessary to be with her during your “final moments” together? Give me a break. So, Jeff’s fiancee, save yourself the trouble of future divorce and leave this loser NOW.

  162. hey jack, you were pretty hard on this guy jeremy, that’s for sure, but the pics i saw showed the attendants walking around, hardly in a state of “we’re gonna die”, right? if it got to the state of “we’re going down and it’s over baby”, then i’d agree with you that he should, i would and you would too, bail from his seat and get back to be with his lady for their final moments, yes.

    agree with you, but maybe he understood it would be okay, right pal? this “loser” has certainly done a great job getting this thing online in this short time and with all the blogs (i’ve only read a few) here i’d say he is more than a loser. he’s actually pretty talented. so be glad he’s alive, drink some Xango, and relax, jack.

    by kevin blesh

  163. Jeremy, I commend you on an excellent blog post. After you verified the situation was stable, you immediately started taking pictures. Not everyone has the presence of mind to think of recording a rare situation for posterity (or just the family photo album). I have a tendency to do the same thing — it certainly makes for the most interesting pictures!

  164. Just noticed something about the last photo — the person a few seats ahead of you also appears to be taking a cellphone picture. Maybe they didn’t have a blog to put it on…

  165. I guess I’m kind of disgusted but not terribly surprised at some of the vicious comments on this board. Have you people tried, and I’m quite serious about this, getting some professional help? And thanks so much for your valiant efforts to make society suck just that little bit more.

    My reaction at the hateful comments is the same as yours: disgusted but not surprised. The anonymity the internet provides is a perfect vehicle for put-downs of others by cowards. You’ll note that al the people making light of this incident, calling him a “pussy”, etc., weren’t on the plane. With the plane diving fast, and no communication from the pilot for 20 minutes, no one on that plane knew how deadly things might be. Glad everything turned out fine.

  166. To those critiquing the critiquers: yeah, they’re being overly uptight about a few things. But just to help out with the layman’s nits:
    * “AVgas” refers to the 110LL that they put in small planes like a Cessna 172, “Jet-A” is what they put in, well, jets 🙂 I’m sure Jeremy knows the difference, but they both smell pretty much like kerosine (although Jet-A much more so). No dings on Jeremy, but nice that the other pilots noticed that.
    * “Precautionary landing” is a “technical term” to a pilot. While the rapid depressurization is an “emergency” (also tech-term), once they reached 10,000′, the “emergency” part was over, and all they had left was an equipment malfunction which did not interfere with flight. Hence “precautionary landing”, similar to if they had some other equip-malf.

    …But, “yeah…”, some people are being awfully hard on a guy who did a nice job 1st-handing the incident for the rest of us.

    Note to Jeremy: While I understand your clarification that “non-union” was intended as descriptive, I, too, read that part initially as a non-union slam and/or pro-union commentary. Not arguing one way or the other, just saying that it reads that way.

    Glad you’re well. Thanks again for the blog!

  167. “someone without a stick up their butt” had written: The ‘non-union’ comment was supposed to be descriptive, not pro-union commentary. I took from it that the ramp personnel the work was outsourced to weren’t as well trained. Union situations have pros and cons, and nothing said a union worker couldn’t have done the same thing

    While it’s true that a union worker could have done the same thing, it does make one wonder if a union worker would be less likely to do something like this. Union or non-union, all the training in the world is not a substitute for common sense and that’s obviously what this ramp/baggage person lacked. I don’t think I’d need any training for me to realize that if I slammed into a plane with my vehicle, I might want to inform someone about it.

  168. Jim Kelly Reply to Jim

    I enjoyed reading your account of the decompression incident on your Alaska Airlines flight. As a flight attendant for a major airline, I am always interested in reading first hand accounts of incidents and accidents within the aviation industry. I do find it unfortunate that many of the comments on your blog are reflective of an American culture that is cynical, jaded, and even hostile. The internet is a great tool and resource but sadly, people think it is permissable to incite, inflame, and insult without any accountability for the often toxic remarks they make. It so convenient and easy to sit on the sidelines and pass unsolicited judgement about another person’s subjective experience while being completely removed from the context of the situation or event. For the most part, I found your account of the incident to be to-the-point and appreciate the photos as well. Happy New Year to you and your fiance.

  169. Jeremy, First of all, glad to see that you and E are ok. Secondly, thanks for documenting this. You can tell by the feedback that it’s hitting people hard. Thirdly, I miss you and we must see each other in ’06. I look forward to hearing this and other stories in person. Happy New Year!

  170. Wow,

    Heck of a story to stumble upon when I’m gonna be on an alaska -83 in the am.
    I flew in an airplane a couple of times before after somebody bumped it with a vehicle. Both times was in a twin otter (turbo prop but not pressurized) (Oh, and we were all wearing parachute rigs; we weren’t planning on landing with the aircraft anyway).
    First time was with the start cart (golf cart) and the second time was with a panel van (the driver said she thought she was clear of the wing). Hence, my motto, when around airplanes with vehicles; even if you think you’ll clear it, don’t go under the wing. Oh yeah, and if you unplug the “start-cart”, make sure it isn’t in reverse when you stand on it to get out of the turbine/prop wash.


    Wade

  171. As a journalist, my first reaction (or at least the first one that probably hasn’t been repeated 87502984357 times) is “I’m amazed they didn’t try to stop you from taking pictures.” I do NOT mean because it was you were using a cell phone; I simply mean because that struck me as a situation where people in authority might try to stop people with camera from using it.

    Then again, the flight attendants probably had one or two other things on their minds. …

    And the commenters who flamed you should realize that even if there was no real danger, how the hell would you know that when it was happening? You hear a pop, you smell something you weren’t smelling before, the oxygen masks come down, what conclusion are you supposed to draw? Somehow “My life is in danger” does not seem unreasonable to me.

  172. I liked how the Alaska Airline’s posters nitpicked on some trivial issues. Discrediting you by arguing about the exact cause of the smell, is pretty desperate. If a FedEx truck hits me on the freeway, would they discredit my account of the accident by saying the FedEx truck was delivering “3-day” packages instead of “Overnight”?

  173. More power to the people – yes man, that’s what citizens’ media is all about. Obvioulsy, Jeremy’s blog with first person account and pictures from the troubled Alaska Airlines has ruffled a lot of airline officials.

    Isn’t Alaska the same airlines that lost a plane (another MD-80 or DC-10 I think) off Los Angeles a few years back – and that accident was caused because they had outsorced their maintenance to some shitty third-party. Looks like some people never learn. What about FAA – are they sleeping on their jobs again?

  174. I saw your pix on FOX Chicago news.

    Since you are a pilot and a hamburger lover, thought you’d enjoy this if you don’t know about it already.
    it’s about places you can fly into for a burger.
    peace
    http://www.100dollarhamburger.com/

  175. just a note: the reason cell phones are banned on planes is because they’re in range of so many towers that they cause dropped calls on the ground.

  176. What absoloute HORRIBLE, CRUEL IGNORANCE is being posted here. For all you know-it-alls, shut the f*@à up! You should all be ashamed of yourselves.Were any of you onboard this flight? I don’t think so. Than what right to you have to ridiculise this. A hole in an aircraf fuselage is no joke. Can be handled by the pilots, but can become very serious. Have any of you ever been involved in a real emergency on an aircraft. I was about 5 years ago, an engine fire shortly after take-off, now for an aviation pro, this is not a “very” serious event, but I can tell you, if you’re an average passenger who knows very little about aviation, and suddenly you hear loud bangs, then see flames coming out of one of the engines of your aircraft, suddenly notice a drop in engine noise as one engine is put onto idle and the other is adjusted to keep the a/c stable, and for a few minutes you seem to be bouncing all over the place, then you spend 20 minutes wondering if you’ll ever get down on the ground, then as you approach the runway you see it lines with flashing lights from emergency equipment… well I’m sure you wouldn’t be so calm and cocky and ignorant then.

  177. CNN fan Reply to CNN

    JEREMY THE JOURNALIST

    Several of us pointed out that using the Treo 650’s camera is not equivalent to using the phone. I noticed that none of the people who criticized Jeremy for using his Treo have responded or apologized for their ignorant comments.

    Jeremy use of the camera is not only fine, but helpful. After many disasters, authorities often ask for video or photographic evidence. Cellphones have made it common. Examples include 9/11 and the terrorist attacks in London.

    As for Jeremy’s subjective account, again, it great. Authorities often interview witnesses after an incident. Why are these more valid that his blog? Indeed, his blog has more validity because there’s a good chance than other witnesses would find it and comment. That keeps him honest.

    If anything, Jeremy’s use of a public record (aka blog) and visual domcumentation should be commended.

  178. So, we have negative commentators, and then we have the referees to tell them to shut up, and stop being ignorant. I’m the next level after the referees. I’m the demi god telling them to all shut up. Just read the guys blog.

    eddie

  179. CNN fan Reply to CNN

    JEREMY’S DESCRIPTION

    re: his account of the smells, etc. I live very close to the World Trade Center, and saw the towers go down. In comparing our memories of that day, my friends, neighbors and I have widely differing sensory records. That doesn’t mean that any of us are lying.

    Research has shown that in moments of stress, our immediate memories are solidified in non-standard ways. As Jeremy had no idea what was going to happen next, any small lapses in accuracy is not only forgivable, but expected.

  180. Leslie Nielson Reply to Leslie

    Great to see that the Alaska Airlines PR department showed up to trash some guy’s blog. I’m going to fly with you guys!

  181. CNN fan Reply to CNN

    JEREMY’s BURGERS

    I found it hilarious that CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 preceded this story with a story on e. coli. During the e. coli story, factoids about contaminated burgers flashed on the screen. Two dominant issues in Jeremy’s life within 5 mins. Coincidence? I think not. 🙂

    Also, I was disappointed that he wasn’t one of the witnesses interviewed live. Instead, they had a couple who took video.

  182. rubens hakkamacher Reply to rubens

    It’s a shame that people have the need to berate others, who have had a life-threatening traumatic experience, probably because they know they themselves would not have as much composure.

    Myself, I’d have been scared into shock; 30,000 feet and the plane goes “boom”? ONLY A MORON WOULD not BE SCARED.

    Self-aggrandizing idiots.

  183. CNN fan Reply to CNN

    THE NEGLIGENT WORKER

    Re: the worker who bumped into the wing, I’d like to believe that it was an “innocent” mistake and s/he didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. At worst, s/he should be disciplined or fired, but not arrested. A silver lining is that other workers now realize how urgent the situation could be. A comparable situation is the foam that fell off the Space Shuttle. No one realized that it could have caused an explosion. And no one faced criminal charges although several people died and the the downed shuttle cost us millions.

  184. Wow to all the believers and non-believers.

  185. CNN fan Reply to CNN

    THE INCIDENT VS TERRORIST ATTACK

    One person belittled this incident, saying that Jeremy’s reaction would have been more justifiable in a hostage situation. I disagree. In many ways, this incident was more taumatic.

    1) The unknown is always more unsettling. A hijiacker generally gives orders so passengers would know what was happening. In this case, there were explosions and smells but no known causes.

    2) In hijacking scenarios, there is usually a way out. Meet their demands and the plane continues flying. Most hijackers want to continue living (9/11 was unique; I know of no other plane hijackings where perps planned on dying). In this case, there was no solution — especially since people didn’t even know the problem.

    3) With a hijacker, one can buy time. YOu can distract him/her, reason with him/her, etc. You can even subdue the hijacker. There’s no way to delay a mechanical problem when one doesn’t know what’s going on. And even if one does, many repairs are impossible in the air.

    4) Hijackers often give assurrances, albeit sometimes false. If you’d listen to the 9/11 tapes, you’d hear the terrorists falsely saying that if everyone cooperated, everything would be okay. My guess is that many passengers were lulled into a false hope, at least initially. After all, it’s only logical to believe that the terrorists would want to live. This is absent from this incident.

    Again, it is the loss of control that is often scariest. When one is confronted with random events, or natural disasters, there’s often nothing to do but wait for the inevitable.

  186. Dude to be honest after reading your story about what happened you do kinda sound like a pu**y. Sorry but It’s just the truth. If your a piolt you know that a decompression ain’t gonna bring down the plane that easy so why were you so scared? One of the posters above mentioned that an average passenger might be afraid but you have a clue so WTF? Quit you crying and grow some balls!

  187. It is unfortunate that this incident happened. However the professionalism of the crew is what made the difference here. I am sure that Alaska Airlines will pay dearly after the lawyers talk you and others into their leagal rights as a passenger.

    I am more concerned that the atmosphere at Alaska Airlines is investigated in depth. Why would the baggage handler, union or nonunion, be reluctant to report his mistake. That is key to the future of Alaskan Airlines.

    By the way, I am a retired test pilot.

    Have a safe flying future.

  188. I have read most of the comments here on this blog and one thing is for sure, if and when there is a class action suite against this airline they had better make sure i am not one of the jurors because if and when a judgement is reached I am going to ensure that I go for the jugular of this company if for nothing else other than the nastiness that can only be accrued to them on this blog.
    Jeremy, Live long and prosper. Thank you for your insight, because of your astuteness in this matter I hope to see many more insights of the many tragedies that people endure these days because you might have just started a trend.
    The new credo I guess, is that I must never leave home without my cellphone camera as it might just come in handy in saving a life one day.

  189. Real Deal Reply to Real

    I think the problem all the critics have is that you appear to be taking a shocking moment and ramping it up to the level of the 10 o’clock news. “Bird Flu! Is it the beginning of the end?! Tonight at 10!”
    I’m sorry, but if the event was life threatening and you were so scared, the last thing you should have been doing is trying to catch your potential last moments on film. Personally, if I felt there was any potential for us not landing safely…I’d be a few rows ahead begging whoever is sitting next to my wife-to-be to let me sit there so I can hold her for what could be the last time.
    Face it, you thought “Oh, this is cool! I’ll get pictures for my blog! This is gonna’ rock!”. Then you wrote up a nice dramatic piece to go with it (which the media just eats up).

    Thats the truth, short and simple.

  190. Paul In KY Reply to Paul

    To Aubrey, et al.

    Cell phones are not banned on planes. Their usage (calls, sms etc.) is prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission, because they are classified as “Land Mobile Radio Service” and once you’re more than 150 feet above ground, you’re no longer Land Mobile.

  191. A poster calling himself Matt has contributed a few comments calling into doubt the safety of the MD-80 family of aircraft.

    I once wrote a review of Scandinavian Airlines on the consumer website epinions.com and was engaged in a similar dispute on the safety of the MD-80s, which at the time comprised the mainstay of SAS’ short haul flights. In relation to this dispute I produced some research the relevant parts of which I’d like to quote in the following:

    “In order to discuss airline safety intelligently, one needs to consider statistics and generic procedures in place in to ensure ongoing safety checks. Regarding statistics I would like to point your attention to the following fact:

    ‘Crash statistics also show that different types of planes have very different records when it comes to fatal accidents.

    Even including Monday’s crash, the MD-80 has one of the best safety records of the major airline models being flown today. The McDonnell Douglas airliner has had only about one fatal crash for every 2.5 million flights. That compares favorably with the more recent MD-11, which has a record of one fatal accident for every 233,000 flights, according to AirSafe.com.”

    Source: http://www.accidentreconstruction.com/reports/alaskaair/020200b.html – emphasis added by author

    According to http://www.airsafe.com the MD-80 family is indeed still today one of the safest airliner designs in the world:

    Fatal Event Rate Per Million Flights
    Boeing 737 0,38
    Airbus A300 0,69
    Airbus A310 1,36
    Airbus A320 0,19
    Boeing 767 0,56
    Boeing 747 1,02
    Boeing MD80/MD90 0,22
    Source: http://www.airsafe.com/events/models/rate_mod.htm

    Thanks for your post Jeremy it was well written and I felt almost as if I were there in the cabin with you. Don’t concern yourself with the negative comments on your blog. I frequent the pprune.org forum for professional pilots and have noticed how easily some conversations in there develop into flame wars especially when they’re dealing with sensitive issues such as accidents. It seems to me that maybe some of these guys are taking it out on your blog as well.

  192. From german newspaper Frankfurter Neue Presse:
    “Gemeinhein passiert es ja nicht, dass plötzlich im Flugzeug die Sauerstoffmasken herunterfallen. Wenn das Flugzeug aber ein Loch hat, dann eben schon. So geschehen beim Flug 536 in Alaska. Und was macht der erfahrene Weblogger? Er setzt die Maske auf und macht erstmal ein Foto, damit dieser unvergessliche Moment auch für die Blogosphere erhalten bleibt.
    Jeremy Hermanns erhält deshalb den FNP-Preis “Coolster Mann der Woche”.”

  193. As a unionized baggage handle for a major airline and one with 19 years seniority doing this job, I can say with certainty that Unionized or not, the baggage handler will be fired. FAA and NTSB are investigating. Additionally, this baggage handler will face possible jail time and/or big fines for his failure to report the damage to management not to mention the possibility liability of more court litigation from Alaska Airline and from passengers suing the airline and the baggage handler. This also points out that some non-union contract companies need to train the employees better and that’s was certainly lacking here. Additionally, JP4 is not used on commercial aircraft. Only JET A. Thank you for the comment on the acrid smell that came from the oxygen generators that is in the overhead bins.

  194. Hey I see a lot of people here that are just bashing Jeremy and forget about what a great job the pilots and crew did to make this flight end safely. I GIVE A BIG CONGRATS AND A JOB WELL DONE TO THE PILOTS AND CREW,THEY ARE TRUE PROFESSIONALS! GOD BLESS THEM!

  195. Did any of the parents do what they’re told — put the mask on first, then on the kids? I wonder…

    That’s an amazing story, and I’m glad that phones with cameras have once again made a news story more newsy.

  196. jet johnny Reply to jet

    Jeremy

    I’m a mechanic with 18 plus years fixing every thing from Cessna’s to C-5’s. I was also a flight mechanic in the air force.

    A couple things to note. As some people have pointed out, you were not smelling fuel of any kind but rather the O2 generators above your head.

    Also, I have been in the altitude chamber in the Air Force. Sensory information is thrown off by the lack of O2. At an altitude of 12,000 you encounter about a 30% loss of O2 in the air you breath. That increases greatly with altitude. In other words any smell that you encountered were more than likely distorted by the lack of O2 in your system. I.E. your body was lying to you.

    I have been in a rapid D situation. We had a hatch blow out at 41,000 ft on a C-141. Several of us in the back of the plane passed out from lack of O2 and woke of with a hell of a headache. It is not a lot of fun!

    I’m not touching the union thing. I don’t care one way or another except to say if someone isn’t doing the job safely it doesn’t matter if they are or aren’t.

    You have my email address. You can contact me if you want. I’d be glad to talk to you more. You know where I work.

  197. Jeremy – You may be wondering if posting this story was worth it, what with all the immature panty weasels calling you a p#ssy on your own blog, and self-important “tech experts” nit-picking your writing.

    Geez, whatever happened to basic politeness and manners? Visiting this blog is a little like visiting Jeremy’s home. It IS a very personal thing – like a public diary. Maybe show a little decency and restraint when expressing your well thought out opinions.

    Myself, I enjoyed the personal view, flaws and all, inside a situation that most of us pray to never experience first hand.

    Good job.

    It WAS worth it man.

  198. Well at least the pilots aren’t just calling Jeremy a pussy anymore. That’s good because if you remember after 261 went down they used to sit out on the runway overheating the jackscrews/tail servos on their MD-80s until many flights had to be delayed or cancelled.

    Oh…and then just yesterday they landed a fully functional MD-80 because (to paraphrase Dennis Miller) “Gus thought he heard some wind noise”. Wind noise in a commercial aircraft at 547 knots–wow–that could be scary!

    Those brave…brave Alaska pilots are at it again. They’re really cool under pressure. A lot braver than all of us.

  199. Ditto Jim above. . . Good post Jeremy. Glad you and your fiancee and all aboard are ok. This could have been a disaster. Kudos to the flight crew for excellent performance. Good training makes a difference. God Bless!

  200. Cheese…. I like cheese….

  201. Bryan,

    I don’t know what a “safe age” is, but I believe that a 37 year old aircraft is not as safe as a newer one. There are a host of things other than hours of flight that are stressors. The amount of inflight turbidity, the number of times the wings have been de-iced, the general environment where the plane is typically homed. These are things the pilots might learn from reading the logs and all, but the passengers aren’t aware of.
    Do I think passengers are in “grave danger”, no I do not. At the same time they are assuming a MUCH greater risk (or you’re assuming it on their behalf)by flying on aged aircraft. The FAA, and/or you airline guys had better do something to stop the fleet from growing so old that planes start regularly falling from the sky. If confidence in a platform is so bad that pilots are landing good planes because they’re scared–that’s not a good sign.
    I’m talking about YOU GUYS, the people who are supposedly “in the know”…and still have fears.
    Thankfully, the price of fuel is getting higher and higher, and market forces may stop you from flying these rust buckets simply because they burn too much Jet-A (low grade kerosene for the uninitiated).

  202. There is some nostalgia in aviation that is unique to the endeavor. To hear Bryan wax poetic about McDonnell Douglas—he was doing it out of respect for what they did for the technical advancement as well as the business of flying. They were pioneers, that’s for sure. The company founded by Henry Ford, the undisputed father of modern manufacturing—still makes cars. They make cars that are okay, but they’re probably not the best vehicles you can buy today. Guys who worshipped Ford as though he were a god, guys like Soichiro Honda, and the companies they created—have refined and advanced the process of manufacturing so greatly, that they can now build between 3-5 products on the same assembly line. And they build increasingly better products every year—and for the most part—does Ford.

    What I am getting at is that the same basic rules apply in aviation. Even though the manufacturing tolerances are tighter, the parts have to be flight certified, and so on—the same basic rules are in effect. The cause of aviation is being technically advanced—EVERY YEAR.

    So forgive me for suggesting that you’re safer in a newer plane.

    My grandmother was nearly paralyzed after being hit in a 1963 Oldsmobile. She was hit by some other guy in another big dumb piece of American iron that also didn’t bend when it hit her car. All the shock of the impact was transferred to the bodies of the occupants of these death traps. Yet to this day, I still hear people say how much better cars were back then. Better for what?

  203. Jeremy, thanks for your blog! good pics, and nice report, and glad it wasn’t anyworse!

    I have been in several emergencies, not fun, both as a passenger and flight attendant.

    Burning fumes coming from cockpit of B-727, relays (burning behind captain’s panel) passengers very frightened.

    Apu leaking inflight, terrible fumes, had a 3 pilots from Kiwi deadheading, I was sitting in the rear jumpseat and had trouble breathing. Not fun.

    Nonrev on Atlas Air 747, catasphofic, uncontained engine fire, April of 2000, 15 minutes of sheer hell!

    Best of luck to you and your finacee, soon to be bride!

  204. I am amazed that people use false names and hide their identity and then make such scathing remarks. The only people who could care this way are employees of Alaska Air.

    What happened was an in air emergency. We have government regulation to thank for the safety as I doubt the airlinewould do as much without the big stick over them. Not that they are inherently evil, but they are in profit motive and are bottom line focused.

    In addition the flight crew did what it took to get the plane backdown. Bravo to them but if the plane had come apart, there wouldn’t be a blog to talk about and it seems that would make all these critics happier – no witnesses.

    I have experienced air emergencies on military aircraft, and I really could not tell you what happened. Though I flew on them regularly, I don’t know what kind of fuel they used, and don’t know what it is supposed to be like but know that there is lots of noise, what feels like less control, and thankfully as in this case the pilots stayed cool and used their emergency training to to get us safely to ground.

    This guy took some pictures, wrote about it and gave us his perspective. He didn’t trash the airline, he didn’t go on and on abut his “near death” experience, he told us how it was for him. Other passengers had different experiences.
    If you weren’t on the flight, you had no experience at all. Cram the nasty attitude and spare us all your pseudo-intellectual crap. If you don’t like it, go interview at least 20 other survivors, take affidavits and then write about your impression of their experience but otherwise close your cake hole.

  205. Ae fera legal seu foto log..
    Parabéns pela coragem!!
    Abraços.
    Marcos

  206. Inflight emergencies , no matter how small , are no picnic for those who are actually involved. People who are seated comfortably at home watching everything unfold on CNN have the luxury of pointing out how trivial it all was in the end. Shame on you ! Until something “trivial” happens to you personally, you have no right to judge a passenger”s reaction to it. I’m a flight attendant and have had more than one emergency myself. No fun.
    The “burning plastic” smell was indeed the smell of the chemical generators from the oxygen masks. Some describe it more as a scorched cloth smell.
    As for the “non-union” comment, he has a point. A company person would have at least reported it right away. His family members ,friends and colleges and even he would be traveling on this plane at some point. Im not saying that outside vendors do a bad job. Im saying that a person who has a personal stake in the company may be a bit more careful and thorough.

  207. Someone earlier asked how it is that a cell phone can bring down an aircraft. Well genius , it can’t. HOWEVER, if everyone had and was using their cell phones, pda , wireless devices and anything and everything else during an instrument landing, there could be a problem. Do you want to find out? Well I dont. The reason we have to tell you to turn off that cd player before we take off isn’t because it is dangerous . It’s because EVERYONE has an electronic device of some sort. And instead of taking time to see which ones emit a signal, the rule is they all go off. Plain and simple.
    So you can’t use your cell phone for a few hours…BIG DEAL ! If they were actually allowed it would create more problems than it solves.
    By the way , the cell phone companies were looking for ways to make NEW cellphone and satellite signals safe for airplane use not necessarily the old ones. Boon for the cell phone companies , not for you.
    Some people still think they are banned from inflight use for some superficial reason unrelated to safety. Well put your conspiracy theories away. It’s just good old fashioned precaution.

  208. Kristoffer’s Statistical Bunk!

    Statistical safety is a joke when the sizes of the fleets of various airframes are so incredibly diverse. It’s the same as me saying I’ve drove my 1984 Hyundai Excel over 200,000 miles and I wasn’t killed, but when I bought my Volvo S70 I got killed that very same day. The Hyundai is clearly the safer car. As an airline manager I can make the MD-80 or the A10 Warthog APPEAR TO BE THE SAFEST SHIZZLE EVER simply by choosing for them the safest routes and the safest airports and the safest missions.

    This is the same company—McDonnell Douglas, who built the DC-10—an aircraft so deficiently engineered that they routed all 3 hydraulic systems under a single engine resulting in lots & lots of passenger deaths. They sucked and their products sucked and continue to suck and will suck forever. The fact that the MD-80 and DC-9 AREN’T QUITE AS BAD as the DC-10 does not comfort me in the slightest. McDonnell Douglas made suck ass commercial jet aircraft—just accept this—and let’s all move on and fly safer. The fact that the very hand of God himself chooses to keep these things in the air, doesn’t mean that you have to KEEP FLYING THEM.

  209. To Jeremy and all the rest. Great job and after checking all your facts I have a pretty good idea as to what happened aboard Alaska flight 536. If you want to know check out the comments and then check the facts. The Portuguese was too tough; I could only get pieces of it translated. My wife and I flew out of SEA/TAC Monday morning on Alaska flight 270, took almost 50 minutes to get our bags when we arrived. There I go blaming the poor baggage personnel. Anyway check out all the facts mentioned in the blog and you will see who is full of it, who is partially full of it and who knows their stuff. Takes awhile but very interesting.

    Happy New Year.
    BAM

  210. I’m really disgusted at the thought that some of the high-school nasty comments in this thread may have come from Alaska employees.

    I’d be really p-o’d if any of those employees were cockpit crew – something to do with this treasured stereotype I’ve had over the years about crew members being cool, professional, strong, blah blah blah.

  211. Glad all are safe. I once was coming out of O’Hare on United Express when flight was delayed then cancelled at last minute due to “weather”. As a travel agent I had just checked inbound, outbound, and weather enroute. No problems. And the plane was at the gate. When I asked for hotel & food vouchers, was told no, as weather related. I called for the supervisor and explained that weather wasn’t the problem.

    He agreed and had the gate agent issue the vouchers and put us on an earlier flight the next day on another carrier. The reason for cancellation was listed as “unscheduled maintenance”.

    When I pulled the supervisor aside and nicely asked what the real story was he told me the truth, a gate agent had accidentally rammed the jetway into the aircraft upon arrival. At least it was reported and the aircraft was taken out of service until checked out.

    I still wonder how many passengers paid for their own hotel and food that night due to “weather”.

  212. Just glad to see that you guys are alright. Cheers!!

  213. I’m surprised no one has blamed it on the TSA allowing nail clippers and knitting needles on the plane.

    Glad everything came out for the best.

  214. Jeremy, thanks for your posting.

  215. John Clifford Reply to John

    I am a Paragliding Tandem Pilot in Seattle and have flown Alaska many times. Thanks for sharing your story.I wonder about all the accidents that have been occuring on the ground at SeaTac . Its not just Alaska. several other airlines have had ground crew screwups and collisions.

  216. so i guess the real story is who alaska airlines got to try to put the lid on this pr fiasco. either that, or else aviation types are just real callous bastards. any thoughts from alaska airlines employees?

  217. I only read the first 25 or so posts. I wonder if the nay saysers are just a tad bit envious. You don’t try to profit, you just tell it like you saw it and get on with life.

    Have a Happy New Year.

  218. Thank’s for sharing the story,Do you want to read some good info? http://home.comcast.net/~skydrifter/asn.htm

  219. funny, most people would whinge for days if they were delayed taking off for an hour on the tarmac, but they tear you down for reporting on an emergency landing due to a hole in the side of the plane! yeesh.

  220. So, we have negative commentators, and then we have the referees to tell them to shut up, and stop being ignorant. I’m the next level after the referees. I’m the demi god telling them to all shut up. Just read the guys blog.

    eddie

    Eddie, you’re only a demi-god? Maybe they’ve changed it since, but back when I applied to Notre Dieu, it wasn’t that difficult to get in.

  221. Frequent flyer Reply to Frequent

    Jeremy, Thank you for the good reporting. I hope that I would have the coolness in a similar situation, and I am glad that you and your fiancé came through this OK.

    Anyone who is an engineer knows that a tear in an aircraft’s skin is NOT trivial. The comments to the contrary by what appear to be Alaska Airlines employees does their cause no good, and in fact bears out what I have observed: This is a company in trouble. Not very long ago some less-lucky passengers lost their lives because maintenance of a large screw that controls the tail’s elevator was inadequate–the screw had not been lubricated per Douglas Aircraft instructions. It froze; the plane became uncontrollable and crashed into the ocean on its way north. It took a few million dollars of taxpayer money for the FAA to prove this; it WAS proved. That’s when I decided never to board one of their planes again. Then the FAA found lots of falsified maintenance records at Alaska. You don’t need to take my word for any of the above; Google ALASKA AIR and MAINTENANCE and see what comes up. Note: I do not work for any company that is in the air travel business in any way.

  222. Screw your critics. They weren’t there. Well done. Since you are a private pilot – tell the truth now — were you waiting for a frantic call over the cabin speakers for a pilot, any pilot, to report to the cockpit without delay?

  223. Thank you for posting your account. Wow! I’m glad you, your fiance, and all the others on the plane made it through safely. Keep on blogging! Have a good New Year!

  224. glad that you and all the passengers made it down safe…

  225. Jud Lohmeyer Reply to Jud

    Hey Jeremy:

    Thanks for the first person account and pictures. Your contributions are helping make the blogsphere great; a domocracy of ideas.

    As my mother always told me, don’t worry about what they say about you, start to worry when they aren’t saying anything…you’re probably dead.

    Mahalo, Jud

    Fellow Blogger

    http://ussgeronimo.blogspot.com

  226. Matt in Missouri Reply to Matt

    Great post Jeremy! You just opened up a whole new audience to the world of blogging. That, in itself is noteworthy. Don’t you just love the fact that we can read all the negative comments without them being edited? Reading these is such an eye opener. People commenting on you using your cell phone? C’mon people, get a life. Jeremy did, and he used his brain in an EXTREME situation. Jeremy is a stand-up guy with the brain enough to know that cell phones do not mess up comms in flights, and brain enough to know to take photos of a life altering event. Tell me, if the plane had crashed and lost every passenger, do you think Jeremy would be catching all this criticism. Fantastic job Jeremy, you should get a medal!

  227. Happy you are still around. I’m a 30 year ramp employee of Northwest Airlines. I hope the people resposible for bottom fishing Alaska Airlines ramp help wakes up and smells the coffee before our collective luck runs out.
    On the other hand NWA is salavating at the thought of replacing me and all the people I work with today with the likes of the people who almost got you killed.

  228. Well… glad you are here. Nice thing to read actually. As for the people below that have nothing better to do than be negative on things, it doesnt amaze me.

    This idiot:
    “Lieing about the smell of gas and burning anything in your blog only serves your own agenda.”

    Were you there? lol… how do you kmnow he is lieing?

    And who is this jack-ass?
    “Maybe if you turned your cell phone off like you are supposed to, none of this would have happened. Idiot.”

    huh?

    I applaud you fore taking the time to take pictures and the details. Makes people like me sit back and go wow, what I be doing in this siituation.

  229. Used his brain in an extreme situation? You’ve got to be kidding. He sat there like he was on the Batman ride at Six-Flags and then let forth a torrent of sophomoric prose about the ordeal. He couldn’t even get the fuel smell right?

    I’m glad you and the others on the flight are safe but the glory shouldn’t be yours. It should go to those fine folks in the nose of the plane. But as for your writings you are exactly the type of person I despise. You used this event to spark a pseudo-career using dramatic and frightening language. I expect better from a pilot, you of all people should know the publics reaction to airborne incidents. You encouraged the bloodlust instead of “using your head” and describing the incident as a trained professional should. I have experienced a few interesting moments in flight but never have I tried to use them as spoke in the wheel of my published endeavors.

    The worst was the non-union comment. Intended or not, it just goes to show how uninterested you were in objectively describing the event when it certainly makes a better story.

  230. Posted by “Joe” 12/28/05 10:29 AM. >>>Are you aware of another in-flight decompression caused by a baggage handler mistake? I didn’t think so

  231. Thanks Jeremy. Good post. Sure are a lot of idiots on the internet huh? I was on an Alaska flight the next day out of Palm Springs, same type of aircraft and was thinking about this flight.

  232. You’ve got to appreciate the guy in the photo who is reading the catalog during the emergency! One cool cat. Emergency underway and this guy is checking out the latest solar-powered frog-shaped fountains in the SkyMall catalog!

  233. Matt, so basically by your own admission you have no basis for your argument regarding aircraft safety based on age. That’s all I needed to see. Thanks. Indeed the location of the hydraulic lines on the DC-10 was a flaw but I entreat you to provide another such occurance. If you ask me Sioux City actually serves as a testament to the durability of the DC-10. For those unfamiliar with the accident, all three main hydraulic lines were incapacitated by an uncontained explosion in the #2 engine caused by a fan blade that disintigrated in cruise due to stress cracks. The highest credit is to be given to Capt. Al Haynes and his crew for putting the aircraft down on the runway-which still to this day the most advanced simulators when set up in this exact scenario fail to do. Though there was significant loss of life it is purely amazing that most of the people on the aircraft lived to tell the tale. As stated before, aircraft age is really dependant upon cycles/hours and not age in years. A 757 manufactured in 1988 could very well have far less cycles on it than say a 737 or A320 produced in 1998. How then, do you suppose, you gauge how one aircraft is safer than the other? I don’t buy into that view one iota because, again as said before, if the aircraft is properly maintained there is nothing to worry about. Aircraft stress also is dictated by how “hard” an aircraft is flown. You can take two brand new aircraft but if one has been through numerous hard landings (some landings are actually hard enough that the aircraft is sent to maintainence to be checked out before being put back into the flight schedule), heavy turbulence, maximum performance takeoffs and the such, whilst the other aircraft has not gone through as many of those occurances it is conceivable that the first airframe would be stressed much faster and would warrant more time in the hangar for parts replacement etc.

  234. Thanks to the swift and calm actions of your professional airline crew, you are all safe and sound.
    Some claim they are just ‘overpaid bus drivers,’ is that how YOU feel?

  235. Beyond the AA incident, your blog has picked a scab that represents us today….a society so wrapped in individual beliefs that we cannot fathom for a moment anyone else’s viewpoint. That everyone must have a hidden agenda or other motive (and I can’t blame Bush entirely for this, but he sure embodies this operating philosophy). I submit those mocking your “15 minutes” really wish for theirs — good luck and tolerate the foolish as the world is filled with them.

  236. In the past, I’ve vowed to never fly certain airlines again because they served me bad food. If the airline damn near killed me, you better believe I, and billions of other people, would do a much less responsible job of ensuring that every detail I describe on a BLOG is the truth when ripping the airline a new asshole… so I don’t get why everyone keeps bitching about this guy’s account of what happened. The truth of the matter is, the plane almost crashed, he almost died, and Alaska Airlines has their logo on that plane.

  237. Bryan,

    Captain Al Haynes was a god! And forced to stop flying at 62.

    But you must admit, the core of my thesis that newer in terms of technology clearly bests older. You’re generally going to be safer on the newer beasties because we’ve learned more with each hour flown. You said the 37-year old jet airplane could be just as safe as a new one, and I’m flat out telling you it isn’t so. They’re not as safe, and while no one may know precisely how much safer they’re NOT, I think it makes sense to at least entertain the notion of retiring some of these old birds….

  238. Dr. Hans Akkerman Reply to Dr.

    i can’t believe all these people expending great energy to cast doubt on your account of what must have been a terrible ordeal!

    if there is any truth to the rumor – which i read at another blog – that the Alaskan Airline is behind these scurrilous comments, they have earned all the blogo-wrath they incur.

  239. I was also on Flight 536 with my two young daughters. We were all very scared but glad to have made it out OK. How dare a careless worker put me and my children in danger!! This was the first time I flew Alaska Airlines, normally I fly SouthWest. That will also be the last time I fly Alaska airlines based on the reports I have heard on the number of incidents that have occurred.
    I am glad we all made it home safe. Take Care and Happy New Year.

  240. Amazed at the number of olfactory experts who can tell the difference between AV gas and jet fuel (maybe they can tell me what I had for dinner if I…) For the untrained nose, I think it smells like something ain’t right and doesn’t do a lot to damage his credibility.

    Ralph, sure hope they can track you down as an Alaskan Airlines employee. That would make a much better story to expose you as an idiot to send the messages, especially from your workplace. You are certainly a dim bulb.

  241. California Job Case Reply to California

    Man, you have some tough critics for readers. Who cares what kind of fuel it was.

  242. Bob Gossom Reply to Bob

    I was also on Flight 536, with my wife and two daughters. The things that struck me about the flight was the “non-response” by the airline. When we left the plane in Seattle there was no one to meet us. We were at the very back, so it took about 10 minutes for us to get off the plane and it was about 20 minutes after that before there was any information from Alaska – to annouce that a replacement flight would leave in a few hours and to offer us a dinner voucher (that turned out to be a “snack” voucher for $6 – hardly dinner in an airport.) But there were several elderly people on the plane who were in real distress during the incident. Fortunately everyone seemed fine when they got off the plane, but it’s not a strech to imagine someone feeling faint or panicky. It certainly seems that some medical/EMT personnel should have been present. Of course, it would have been nice to have an Alaska representative there to perhaps apologize and, dare I say it, reassure us. The flight crew had promised us that Alaska representatives would be present, and even seemed surprised that they didn’t come onto the plane before we left it. I suppose in all fairness I should mention that there were 3-4 Alaska employess at counters near us, but since they ignored us and pointed concentrated on their terminals I don’t really count them as Alaska representatives, at least to us.

  243. Vince. Did you know that you can turn off the antenna on the Treo 650? WOW! Amazing! SO you can use it as a normal PDA on a plane. And guess what else? They even SAY that during the safety blurb!

  244. Thank God the plane was able to land after that and all the passengers are safe , i believe this is just the beginning , anyone read the USA Today article about how US carriers are using non-FAA certified mechanics to replace jet engines and doors and things? , just a matter of time till this cut costs by cutting skilled workers comes home to roost , i love to fly but this is a ticking time bomb i believe , i pray i am wrong .

  245. Eric Harkins Reply to Eric

    My name is Eric Harkins, and I know that this blog is directly related to your particular experience on your flight, but I would like to comment on how the very standard that airlines used to live up to have been descending rapidly across the industry. From Baggage handlers, to ticket tellers, to airline pilots and stewardess’. The demeanor in the airline industry is not one of appreciating customers, but the aforementioned persons believeing that it is their newly founded right to be obnoxious and rude to paying customers. This is ever more present during the holiday season. I realize that this time of year is stressful due to the increase in travel, but to be honest this pays their salaries. If their is any problem that is evident more in the airline industry let me know.

  246. Im sry about what happened to you. I wont ride in planes, and your a pilot, so your pretty brave according to me. Those people who are trying to bring you down are jelous that they didnt get involoved in something exiting like that, because they have no lives (so they would rather be in a potentially deadly plane crash than nothing i guess..?) Anyways, I am glad your OK.
    Cavin

  247. I found this on digg… Just thought I’d let you all know that this made the news in SC on the east coast.

    Our script…

    [Anchor:BOB]
    [ReadRate:15]
    {***BOB***}
    THE PILOT OF AN ALASKA AIRLINES JET MADE AN EMERGENCY LANDING IN SEATTLE… AFTER A FOOT LONG HOLE OPENED IN THE BODY OF THE PLANE.
    [TAKE VO]{***VO***}
    [CG :2 Line LOCEmergency LandingSeattle, WA]
    THE HOLE CAUSED THE PLANE TO LOSE CABIN PRESSURE, AND FORCED IT INTO A 26-THOUSAND FOOT EMERGENCY DIVE.
    OFFICIALS SAY THE PASSENGERS AND CREW ESCAPED INJURY.
    THE PLANE LANDED SAFELY.
    A RAMP WORKER… ADMITTED HE BUMPED THE PLANE WITH A BAGGAGE MACHINE, BUT SAYS HE DIDN’T KNOW HE DENTED THE PLANE’S ALUMINUM SKIN.
    THAT LED TO THE HOLE AFTER TAKEOFF.

  248. WOW!!! Good thing it had a happy ending. I didn’t realize Alaska Air had non-union workers. I think it’s time to find another carrier

  249. Hi Jeremy,

    Glad you and your fiance came out safe.
    1) Re: the “dare you to post this” types and freedom of speech poseurs. Please don’t let them cause you to doubt your right to control your own blog. I applaud you deleting the abusive and obscene comments. I do the same with the business blogs I make for clients.
    2) While the free press you are getting out of the media exposure is valuable for your blog, I hope you negotiated a good price for your pics and video. As a former news videographer, I recommend starting high then lowering the price if needed in negotiation. The minimum for video footage might be $ 150-200.

    Ed Hill, Atlanta

  250. Great post!

    And maybe there’s some hope for the world: the decent comments appear to outnumber the ones from the sniveling little morons by at least 6 to 1, maybe more.

    My Mom used to say “Any fool can criticize.” At least the fools here are outnumbered!

  251. Thanks for the information and the photos Jeremy. I’m glad you had a camera available. Airlines don’t like camera’s or these unfortunate incidents publicized. However I belive an airline needs to be held accountable (through the press)when its cost cutting measures increases the risk of the flying public. So I say hurrah for the cell camera! In just the last few years more so much airline maintenance has been outsourced and much of the outsourcing is done out of country. If the FAA has trouble monitoring repair stations in this country just imagine the problems they have monitoring overseas outsource repair facilities. Be choosy about with airline you fly with. All American Airlines heavy maintenance is done in the USA. A note of caution-Northwest Airlines mechanics are on strike and most of its maintenance is being outsourced or being done by people that do not have the experience as the normal mechanics do.

  252. Interesting photos and blog! I had just flown to SEA on 12/25 on Alaska, and it really bothered me to hear about this “little” incident going unreported. I am also a pilot and firmly believe that all incidents, no matter how insignificant they may seem, should be reported…regardless if a C-152 or a 747-400 gets dinged. Safety is no accident!

    Happy landings and glad everyone on your flight is ok.

  253. J West Reply to J

    Anyone who mentions cell phone as the cause is an idiot. The TREO can have the cellphone transmit and receive turned off quite easily.

  254. I’m wondering why it was important to note that the baggage handler responsible for the damage to the aircraft was “non union”? Is this supposed to imply that a unionized worker wouldn’t have done the same thing? (Believe me, I could regale you with stories of the resevoir of stupidity that unionized workers have proven to be in my experiences. People with actual talent don’t need collective bargaining.)

  255. Wow. Found you through Digg, and if the title is true, looks like your critics are actually working for Alaska Airlines, if the IP traces are the real deal.

    Very glad you’re okay, I can’t imagine being in such a tense and frightening situation, and on top of that being away from your fiance while knowing she’s on the same flight. When I fly with my girlfriend, we always try to get adjacent seats, and damned to the airline that doesn’t let you. What a nightmare-while the morons above are going on about whether it was gas 1 of odor b, they’re missing the point-it was a horrible experience, you’re glad to be alive, we’re glad to be alive, and as usual, those responsible for what could have been a tragedy are trying to blanket their own responsibility by making you out to be the bad guy. No wonder so many airlines are doing so crappily these days. Even though I know it’s not, I feel safer driving.

  256. Thanks for the pictures. I’m glad you took them. As for Alaska Airlines – they suck. After the fatal crash a few years ago and now this, I will no longer fly on them.

  257. Alex Oliveira Reply to Alex

    Dear Jeremy,
    Had it happen to me and I had my Digital camera with me, yes I would have taken the pictures also, like that I would have had a record, so if I ever mentioned it and nobody believe me, I’d show them the photos…
    I would personally like if you could send me the photos..

    Thank you,

    Alex Oliveira

  258. Thanks for posting your account. I am impressed with the professionalism of the flight crew and the calm reaction of the passengers. I resolve to pay attention to the emergency instructions the next time I travel!

  259. Dear Rico,
    As one of the critical olfactory experts I feel it is my duty to inform you that Avgas and Jet fuel have two very distinct smells. Anyone who has spent any time near airplanes, such as a GA-VFR pilot, would quickly become a trained expert in such olfactory observations. Kerosene smells nothing like petrol, ever.

    I can’t tell you what you had for dinner but I can easily tell the difference between Mexican food and Chinese food on your breath.

  260. Although you are a stranger, I am happy that you lived to tell about the incident and that you and the other passengers are physically okay.

    To the people that commented on your entry, inflammatory comments would be better received if spelling and grammar rules were employed. Try using Word or some other commonly available tool; I think it is called a dictionary.

    Also I am a SkyMiles Platinum member which equates to a hell of a lot of travel. I can tell you that even in the front of the plane in first class on an MD-80/88, I have smelled jet fuel while in-flight with no apparent problems on the plane.

    Once coming back from Boston on business the oxygen masks deployed followed by the smell of burning plastic which the attendants contributed to the production of breathable gas through the masks.

    I’m wondering what kind of person would criticize someone’s blog entry on a potentially dangerous, life-threatening situation.

  261. Αριστοτέλης Reply to Αριστοτέλης

    μπορούν χίλιες προνύμφες να μολύνουν την αερογραμμή Αλάσκα!

  262. You really could play a game called MD-80 scratch & sniff. Identify these 9 smells on the back of your in-flight scratch & sniff safety card supplement.

    1. Hydraulic fluid maintenance forgot to mop out of the pit.

    2. Jet-A.

    3. A 37-year-old heater warming up

    4. Cabin wiring—on fire (probably Kapton)—usually followed by smoke

    5. Excessive flatulence in 1st Class (perhaps me or Corkchop)

    6. Gear oil

    7. Aqua Net

    8. Just “some fucked up smell”

    9. The Oxygen Generators superheating the plastic tubing

  263. I cannot believe the idiots bashing on this thread. They are making their company look even worse.

    I keep seeing people pretending to be “experts” bashing this guy.

    This is why I will NEVER fly Alaskan. Apparently their hiring standards are exceptionally low. If you cannot get hired anywhere else you can always get hired at Alaskan.

  264. Airline Crew Stew Reply to Airline

    J:
    First, let me say I’m glad to hear that you and your fellow passengers survived this ordeal with little or no injuries.

    You mentioned in the original story that you received some instructions from the flight deck crew after the emergency decent. Can you comment on the performance of the Flight Attendants? (I see them in the aisle assisting passengers. But I don’t see them wearing 02 masks so I’m assuming these pictures were taken after the emergency decent).

    What were their actions immediately following the decompression (explosion)? Did they give (shout) any instructions to the passengers on what they should be doing?

    Thank you and I’m glad to hear you incident ended safely.

  265. I don’t care what you say: deregulation is good for America, you nay-sayer. You’re either for us, or against us!

  266. Alaska employees have apparently now been advised not to demean Jeremy, but rather say super-nice things and make self-congratulatory comments about the performance of the crew.

    And also…they won’t leave my comments at the end of the blog…they must keep having the “last” word…

    The next thing they will do is start posting by assuming my name or the names of other Jeremy-defenders, and by the way…VERY GOOD ALASKA CUSTOMERS who’ve contributed $15-$300K or more of our hard-earned income into plane tickets over the course of our business travel.

    I would heartily advise against this! You will be pouring 130 octane AV-Gas on a fire that’s already burning pretty good.

  267. Ed Poinsett Reply to Ed

    The Cell Phone safety issue on airplanes is a straw man. The real problem is that since they are airborne transmitters, the phone companies get to argue over whose cells are being used for billing purposes. It never has been a safety issue, merely a profit grab between phone companies. Rather than work it out, they just got the FAA to ban their use.

  268. I am glad that there were no fatalities nor injuries.

    I do not know how I would have held up in a similar situation. It was good to see that all of the flight attendants were helping the passengers. Their training works!

    I would hope that none of the passengers paid for this flight, and that there is some type of compensation for the people’s pain and suffering. I don’t think a person has to die or be permanently/severely injured to have suffered during and after an incident like this.

    I had an ex-husband who was very calm through any kind of calamidy. I asked him if that meant that he wasn’t tense or worried about certain things that happened in his life.

    His answer was that he would be tense or worried; he just learned how to make a distinction between when he could change a situation and when he could not. His sitting pulse rate was very, very low, and I predict he will live a long and happy life. The man with the magazing may have realized it was not under his control and that focusing his mind elsewhere helped him deal better with the situation.

    As far as exaggerations in this retelling goes, I don’t think that “buys” anyone anything in the long one. The facts are the facts, and they are clearly understood.

    I’m just happy that this story had a happy ending.

  269. The planes are so safe, and the old ones are just as safe as the new ones. NOT!

    http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/aviation/kapton_mangold.htm

  270. You can bet your flight attendants were just as concerned, possibly scared, as anyone on that plane.

    Yes, we get trained out what to do, but when the adrenaline kicks in, it’s a very frightening scenario. Yes, we put a smile on our face in an attept to reassure, rather than alarm, our passengers, but know that on the inside our heart is pounding a million miles an hour.

    You might also be interested to know, that many times after an emergency such as this, the flight crew is just told to continue flying. I’m not sure if that happened in this situation, but I can’t imagine being responsible for passenger lives after going through one emergency and no rest time.

    Glad this story had a happy ending.

  271. What’s amazing is that he really didn’t trash the airline – only make a back-end comment with little-to-no “spin” regarding the negligence one person on the ground crew. Indeed, he actively praised the aircraft crew. The only relevant anti-airline criticism is from the commenter who remarked that there was minimal support from the people on the ground after the event.

    God people can be so petty.

  272. Man, glad you and your fiance made it. Don’t worry about the a-holes who make the disparaging remarks. They are jealous and probably relatives of the idiot baggage handler who hit the plane in the first place.

  273. Wendy Godley Reply to Wendy

    I too was on this flight with my 6-year-old son. We were separated at first because of the overbooked flight, but managed to swich seats with a another young boy of about 8 who was traveling alone (can’t imagine what he went through!). I can empathize with Jeremy being separated from his fiancee, as I don’t know what I would have done if this happened and I wasn’t there to be with my son when this happened. We were in the last seats in the back of the plane. It was just like Jeremy described, only there was so much cold wind swirling around in the back that I didn’t smell the fuel or burning plastic. We lost oxygen so fast that I nearly blacked out before I could get my oxygen mask on. The sound of the engines was deafening, as we were right next to them, with no windows either.

    It was definitely a horrifying experience. All we’ve gotten from the airline for it was $6 vouchers for a snack while waiting 2 hours for another plane to take us home, and a $20 gift certificate for a seafood dinner!

    I would like to add that those of you who have commented on Jeremy’s account with sarcasm and criticism should just try going through the experience themselves before smugly throwing rocks.

  274. Unpublished Rules for Flying:

    1) Order 2 or perhaps even 3 beers at once (unless you’re in 1st class) because the flight attendants only come around once or twice during a flight. They won’t let you get really drunk on the flight and I’ve seen a few guys get booted from a flight because they “looked” hammered. Grab a couple of drinks in the bar minutes (if not seconds) before boarding and they won’t hit you until you’re already in the air. If you get mean or even a little aggressive when you drink, DON’T DRINK ON THE AIRPLANE or you’ll probably wind up in jail or banned or both.

    2) Be supernice to the attendants and they’ll remember you on the next flight and you’ll get perks like stronger drinks & more attention, more frequent refills & snacks, etc.

    3) You can stand and chat with the folks toward the back of the plane (even the attendants), you can even stand in the aisles, but don’t loiter anywhere NEAR the front of the plane.

    4) Enjoy the flight, chat with the folks around you, watch a DVD on your laptop, relax–IT STILL IS BY FAR THE SAFEST WAY TO TRAVEL.

    5) There all people, just like you, doing their job and NOT making a ton of money. I’ve even chatted with pilots in street clothes on. Treat them like PEOPLE, not servants.

    6) Keep flying! It’s good for the economy and it’s fun & fast and the only way to really get around in a hurry.

    7) Complain to the airline when it makes sense, and when you’re not in the air. You can get free flights, deep discounts, other cool stuff. Complain about the MD-80, I used to groan aloud when I saw its lame-ass whale tail outside the glass. Complain about delays, cancellations, etc.–but do it with style and class.

  275. Its great to hear from all these devoted Alaska Airlines employees. I’ve flown this religious airline with the ridiculous little meal prayers once in my life, and that was the last. I mean -lets be serious – they still fly MD-80’s! That should be the first clue! Contracting out almost always backfires, but even the largest of companies are short-sighted. Look at payroll outsourcing – the 3rd parties are jacking up their fees and now companies are looking at in-sourcing it again – but nobody has the expertise to do it other than the 3rd parties!

  276. Alaska Airlines has apparently now advised its employees not to contribute to this blog, or even acknowledge its existence. This is what I’m hearing now from the inside. Anyone who does so, and is found out, may soon find out that their job is in peril.

  277. Shane: Not that I am overly fond of the MD-80 myself, merely just trying to insert factuality into a myriad of falsehoods and nonsensical worries/babbles here is what I have to say in response to your comment. American Airlines (which is the largest airline in the United States) operates a fleet of MD-80 aircraft over 330 airframes strong, Delta operates a fleet of 130 plus strong, and additionally Northwest operates something in the ballpark of 120-130 DC-9’s which are the older and smaller members of that aircraft family. There are several other smaller operators of the MD-80 in the US that I can think of off the top of my head including Midwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air, and I’m sure I have neglected a few. Continental just removed their MD-80’s from service recently due to fleet commonality issues (they were supplanted by the 737 in many roles). There are many 737’s, 757’s, 767’s, and even A320’s in the air today that are older or as old as a large portion of the current worldwide MD-80 fleet in service. The aircraft type had nothing to do with the fact that this incident even occured in the first place.

  278. I was on this flight and the stewardesses on-board were very professional and helpful in spite of the incident. They used the extra oxygen masks hanging down to travel throughout the cabin and help the passengers who were upset or needing assistance.

    I was pretty freaked out, didn’t know if we were going to die or what, and looked at the stewardess to see what her reaction to the whole thing was. This was several minutes after we had put on the oxygen masks and the flight crew had gotten onto the phone several times to talk to the pilot, and the passengers still didn’t know what was going on.

    The stewardess could not speak with her oxygen mask on, but did gave me a thumbs-up sign, which eased my panic and let me know that we weren’t “going down.”

    I don’t think I’ll fly Alaska again, but those caught in the moment did the best they could.

  279. J.
    Man tell the haters to get thier own blog! explaining what you felt is like telling someone what the waris like!!, unless you actually have been thur someting like this or that you cant explain it right!!!
    Glad yall are ok!!
    Alaska Airlines can suck my left nut which is on my mantle, was removed after I was shoot up in Iraq!!!

  280. Steve: Wow! DC-9’s? (Vive le deregulation and competition!) I wasn’t trying to suggest that type of aircraft was involved – although the AGE of the aircraft might have been a factor.

    In the meantime – would somebody please put a few US airlines out of their misery so the remaining ones can start replacing those DC’s, MD’s and “7X7-200’s” with some decent Airbus aircraft!

  281. Mick Russom Reply to Mick

    I dislike Alaska airlines, and I write after every MD-80 flight on American to get rid of these bad planes – I don’t think they can handle a dual engine failure (no Ram Air Turbine), and they are horrible to travel in cramped with no restrooms and DC-9s before them have even buckled on hard landings. It is a horrible little nasty old jet.

    Regarding the “smell of avgas/JP-4” – avgas is aka Avgas 100LL (low lead) is for piston engines and JP4 is JET-B, usually only used when required by cold weather conditions – very low to artic temperatures at the airport – and was unlikely the smell you smelled. The common fuel is JET-A1/JET-A (closest to JP8), which is more or less kerosene with various additives. This is likely the smell you detected, along with acrid burning rubber. JP4, JP5 and JP8 are US military specs, with JP5 being what the Navy uses on aircraft carriers.

    The worst airline, America West, I was on one of their ghost ships, a beautiful 757 poorly abused for many years by them and the cabin started to stink of burning Kapton insulation. I knew there was an electrical smoldering but what was I to do? If I tried to call an attendant I was afraid of being called a terrorist. The smell went away. The problem with Boeing Jets (Unlike McDonnell or Scarebus) is that they are built so well carriers can be negligent for many years before it catches up with them.

    If it ain’t Boeing , I ain’t going. The best plane ever built ever is the Boeing 777. Ride it and see.

  282. First comment I have, although married to an airline pilot, I am usually a nervous flyer and to calm myself I always have my digital camera when flying and take pictures the entire flight, usually out the window, even at night. In a stressful situation as I can only imagine this was, I would definitely have been taking pictures. Taking pictures gives an element of control to a situation that is otherwise completely out of your control and thereby helps with the fear – some focus is on taking the picture instead of totally focusing on the “horrifying” situation. Even though this was not your case, people are out of line to be judgemental of the picture taking.
    Second comment is on cell phones, aside from the fact that pilots tell me cell phones do not interfer with anything (as we know the FAA is looking into allowing cell phone use during flights), the point I want to make about cell phones is that even though you didn’t use your cell phone to call anyone, worst case scenario – if the plane had of crashed, leaving no survivors, everyone would have been fine with calls being made from cell phones to loved ones (remember 9/11?), so what is the big deal?!
    I too am glad this ordeal had a safe ending.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and ignore the unfounded negative comments about your actions by others, who mind you, were not even in the situation and therefore don’t know WHAT they might do.

  283. Glad you and the fiancee made it, Jeremy. As for the negative feedback from the peanut gallery, if you were not on to something here re the “scabs” (non union workers) and a few other of your observations, they probably wouldn’t be whining and trying to shut you up.

    Be well.

  284. Mick,

    I’m in love with you. Finally, someone just tellin’ it like it is! My dad worked for nearly all the big guns in aviation history and I was stuck here all by myself telling Bryan what a tremendous piece of flying turd the MD-80 and its brethren are!

  285. that would scare the living daylights out of me. thank goodness everything turned out all right.

    p.s. my treo 650 takes crummy low-light photos too. 🙂

  286. Hats off to ya,
    clap, clap, clap…

  287. Glad you came out okay, J.

    Horrified, however, to see the people who gave you a kicking for reporting on a situation you were personally involved in, and (gasp!) *having your own opinions about it*! Although it seems you had some company stymie action, I expect a lot of these people are desk jockeys with too much time on their hands and opinions that hold no water outside the banjo-bar where they drink. So, my response to these:

    ‘Shut up. You weren’t there. He was. He called it how he saw it. That is journalism. Live with it. Get another beer and talk about sports.’

    The internet is a wonderful thing, if only for the fact that it allows idiots to expose their idiocy to the world at large. Through such processes we advance towards a point where the human race can truly improve itself. In the meantime, avoid people wearing meshbacks and anti-liberal T-shirts. Peace…AA

    VelcroCityTouristBoard

  288. Glad all went well with the flight. Congrats of your upcoming nuptuals!

    Holy smokes! There are some real jerks commenting on this… Like it was your fault or something!

    People! Relax! Breathe!

  289. Hi! What a story!
    Just to let you know that I knew about your story in a Peruvian news paper!! Check out at http://www.elcomercio.com.pe

  290. yo pienso que esta bien que tomes fotos pero que no te hagas al heroe

  291. Regarding Alaska Flight 536 and my interview with Anderson Cooper yesterday. Mr. Cooper asked if I was angry about the incident, to which I responded that I was disappointed more than anything that the person responsible did not come forward and tell his superior that he had run the Belt Loader into the side of the plane.

    As I continue to investigate the factors leading up to the events that caused the cabin to depressurize in Alaska Airlines Flight 536 on December 26, 2005, a flight I was a passenger on, I’m beginning to get angry.

    The following quote was taken from an article, “Hole In Fuselage Forces Emergency Landing” published By KOMO Staff & News Services, December 27, 2005:

    Last May, Alaska Airlines laid off nearly 500 baggage handlers and other ramp workers at Sea-Tac, saying it needed to trim costs amid rising fuel prices and fierce competition from low-cost carriers. In a statement then, Alaska said hiring Menzies Aviation to provide those ramp services at the airport would save $13 million a year.

    If this is in fact the case, and we can now say that the ground crew member who was at fault was a lower paid, subcontracted employee hired by Alaska Airlines to save the company $13 million, could we then make this direct correlation:

    By saving $13 Million over the course of the year, Alaska Airlines very nearly caused the death of 140 passengers and 5 Alaska Airline employees because of an improperly trained, undereducated, underqualified employee. If we were to look at this on a financial cost/benefit basis, is Alaska Airlines suggesting that the 145 lives lost would be worth $13 million in savings?

    Consider this, $13 million divided by the 145 lives lost averages out to $89,655.17 per passenger. I’m not sure what the payout to family members of a passenger killed due to a negligent airline nets out to be but I’m willing to bet that it would be more than $89,655.17 per passenger. Of course this breakdown deals with the death of 145 people strictly from a financial perspective, there has been no consideration for the emotional anguish inflicted on the hundreds of people affected by these deaths.

    Maybe I’m being dramatic, I mean really, 145 lives, $13 million…145 lives, $13 million…? Apparently, Alaska Airlines made their decision.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to tell my story,

    Damon Zwicker

  292. Interesting event, good story for the grand kids. You raise several good issues, and most of the problems can trace their origions back to the deregulation of airlines. The good part of it is that there are more choices and competition amongst routes which reduces the ticket price to the consumer. Since we live in a capitalist society though, this also brings out the problem that the carriers have have to squeeze out every dollar just to stay afloat. This brings about the overselling of flights. This is by no means as I’m sure you realize, a situation unique to Alaska. It also means they give up some control of over the quality of workers in ancillary roles as they have to sub contract out the jobs to local companies who can do it cheaper by spreading out the expense base across multiple carriers at a field and by employing lower cost workers. Whether the worker in question being union or not making a difference… hard to say. Might have made a difference in that the employee may not have hesitated reporting the incident fearing for his job, and sometimes (not always though) the unions have better training programs. Regardless of union or nto, the guy may have just been an idiot and not realized he hit it, as to that front, I can purely speculate. Many other airlines source out ancillary functions to third party contractors as well, so as to this happenning on an Alaska Airlines flight, that seems to me a “luck of the draw” issue. The upside of this is that when it all came down, the crew handled the emergency professionally and the airframe stayed together with no further malfunction. The rapid descent is normal proceedure to get the plane down to a non hypoxic density altitude, and the flight concluded with no injury or further accident. As to the flight itself it appears that Alaska held up their end of the bargain to keep you alive, and I don’t think it is really any fault on their part, rather a general indictment of the industry as whole operating in such a fine economic line. No other business in the world besides aircarrier ops could sustain themselves operating on such slim margins.

    BTW, I love the pic of the dude in front of you reading the inflight rag.

    As for the Alaska employee(s?) commenting as they have from a business IP address, people, you are creating a bad situation for your company when this whole thing gets to court. Aircarrier Ops is a Strict Liability business already, you’re adding “attitude” to the equation, and that opens up potential access to punative damages. Expect to be fired with definite cause. There is a term known as ‘Respondiate Superior’ meaning “Let the Master Answer” which leaves the company liable for your actions. The company has redress to the third party contractor for the failure of the baggage handler, but not for your actions here which can be potentially more expensive than the origional incident.

  293. Cell Phones in Planes.

    Ok, first off, the cell phone usage on a plane is an FCC issue, not an FAA one and doesn’t apply to all cell phones either. The only thing I have ever noticed happenning in flight is that when there is an incoming call and the carrier wave ramps up, there is a slight tone over the comm radio. I experimented with this on the nav system as well and noticed no deviation to a VOR/CDI or the Loc/GS on an ILS when using either King Kx 155/165 or Garmin GNS 430/530 radios. This was not a definitive study, just a few quick experiments while flying.

  294. Seriously, after reading your account, I have decided to not fly using Alaska Airlines services, nor would I recommend them to family, friends, and acquaintances.

  295. Cry me a river you Drama Queen! I hope you never work for a commerical airline. If you did, I’d hate to be on one of the planes you were on becaure you seem to CRACK UNDER PRESSURE! I can tell that you are ignorant on how rare this type of thing happens. The pilots did what they were trained to do. They guided the plane down safely. Thank God you weren’t in control of the plane! Get over it pampered boy!!!

  296. For all you morons fussing about the cell phone most new phones have whats called airplane mode so Stop your complaining and You know if it was you, you would be scared out of your mind. Stop playing like your so damn tough he lived to tell his story. Some of these comments are so asinine its unreal how some people can be. Glad to see your okay.

  297. Jorge Luis Reply to Jorge

    Antes que nada dejame decirte lo valiente que has sido para poder sacar esas fotos a lo mejor yo en tu lugar tendria un ataque de panico como muchos de nosotros, y bueno aunqye hubiera sido mejor grabarlo para mejorar la asistencia a los pasajeros en esos casos en muchos otros, saludos. un amigo de PERU

  298. Hi! Next friday i’m going by plane to Argentina. Could imagine how I feel with your experience.
    God bless me.
    😀

  299. Berka Murchill Reply to Berka

    What a prize bunch of whingers you lot all are.
    I notice that the carping comments on Mr Hermanns` site eminate mainly from the US of A with a splash of south American thrown in,so,as a European,we would say that those carping comments just about sum “you lot” up.
    Give the guy and his fiancee a break.
    Pilot or no pilot,the smell of AV or whatever fuel,the smell of burning plastic/debris/oxygen generators or whatever.A rapid descent from 30 odd thousand feet to 10,000 feet would be enough to scare the shit out of most of the (European newspaper reported)other 139 passengers.
    It would be interesting to read any comments that the ACTUAL pilot or attending flight crew may care to post.
    Nice one Jeremy.
    Good article.

  300. I am employed by Alaska and am a union dues-paying member. Not management, not inclined to become management–these are my opinions only–no ulterior motives.

    The rampers had the opportunity to say “yes” to their contract 9 months ago. With all airlines having a rough time of it the last few years, they should have understood that they would not get everything they wanted and may have to sacrifice a little–for a short term contract. The rampers who were making $50k + a year should have been leading the pack by voting “yes”–grateful to be making that kind of money for that kind of job.

    By saying “yes” Menzies would not have become the subcontractor and I wouldn’t be giving my opinion because the issue would be moot.

    But they chose to say “no” with the knowledge that Alaska had Menizies lined up and ready to go. They knew what the response would be–there were no surpises here. Unemployment lines, being rehired by Menizies at a lower wage, sticking it to the Airline…the union doesn’t care because they still “won”. They don’t care about the health of the company they work for, as long as they “win”.
    Eastern airlines is a good example. Put out of business by the unions, woo hoo!!! They won! And they stood in the same unemployment line as their management supervisors.

    Secondly, your list of foul mouthed emails from Alaska employees may or may not be accurate, but did you list all the stupid emails or only the ones you think came from Alaska? Editing and pulling things out of context can always make things appear better or worse than they really are.

    No airline wants safety to ever be an issue–no matter how much money it saves. To believe that is ignorant and to continue to suggest it is worse.

  301. Oh, I forgot to add that ALL airlines oversell flights–not just Alaska. It’s smart business because life happens and it fills seats of those pax who don’t show up for their flight–a bigger percentage per flight than you might think.

  302. David J. Smallridge Reply to David

    The Human condition is rampant on this blog, both good and bad. I find it amazing how our emotions are driven by our environment and our knowledge base. My family and I flew from Connecticut to Tuscon Arizona on Christmas Day. On our first leg we flew on a 42 passenger jet. I don’t remember the model. My wife and son sat two rows ahead of my daughter and I. We were surrounded by a drunk self medicated individual who did not want to fly and an (Valium loaded)anxious self medicated individual who did not want to fly. I will refer to as “The Pair” from here in. When the captain reported we would have to stay on the runway for a little while because traffic jams existed in Newark “The Pair” started to react that “They” the airline we were flying on, would have to let them off the plane. The Pair were quoting some FAA regulations. One woman was calling everyone she knew reporting that the airline was trying to kill her while we waited on the runway stanby. The other woman would tell her husband in slurrisms that she needed to get off the plane, now!! I could not believe the tom foolery. I would calmly interject when able that one or both should calm down and and talk to the crew. I felt relativly safe, although annoyed by the ill musings of The pair. I felt experienced enough flying on both large, medium jets, and very small turbo props. Just as my acceptance dip stick went bone dry, I pressed the call button, so that maybe the stewardess would address “The Pair” and there distracting ways. The captain said over the announcing system, “It is time to go, we have been cleared for take-off.” The Pair went silent. Ah.. music to our ears. When we hit the cause of the traffic jams in Newark we were in mild turbulence. Then it happened…We veered sharply port and dropped and then veered sharply starboard and rose. I crapped my pants! I realized my wife and son were not near me and I was not in control of this plane. I looked at my daughter and laughed, she laughed along with me. I told her this is why her step mother and I love roller coasters. My daughter said she would still watch us go on the coaster. She felt safer in the plane than on a coaster. My point to all this is that it is interesting to see all of our reactions based on knowledge, expereince and fears both percieved and real. From empathetic people you have been rewarded with posative responses, from the all knowing, superior, self loathing, projecting, insecure boobs you have been ,looked down upon, confirmed, attacked, and bullied. I enjoyed the blog experience and wish you and your wife eternal happiness. Happy New Year!!

  303. I’m really glad this turned out ok in the end. Thanksfully i’ve never been in a situation like this. However, I have been on a plane which hit turbulence bad enough to cause a passenger sitting near me to void her bowels – and that was unpleasant enough.

  304. That’s crazy, can’t believe you got that on camera!!

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  305. Amazing story!
    Happy New Year from Peru

  306. Glad to hear you’re alright. But I have to ask…is that guy sitting in front of you in the pics, casually reading a magazine? He looks strangely calm!

  307. A lot of you guys are being incredibly judgmental and you have absolutely no compassion.

    Jeremy went through something incredibly scary and he did what he thought was right at the time. Only he knows whether he was thinking about publicity when he took the photos – but after going through something like that, he deserves to get some kind of benefit out of it. So quit criticizing him for going after his 15 minutes, you’d probably do the same thing if you were in his shoes.

  308. Mi dispiace non só l´inglese, mi sarebbe piaciuto leggere le tue emozioni
    Anche a me piacerebbe pilotare un´aereo
    UN FELICE ANNO NUOVO….
    CHE I TUOI SOGNI DIVENTINO REALTÁ
    Liv.

  309. Jeremy

    Good blog. Glad things worked out for you and the other passengers.

    As a life-long adventure sports enthusiast (forced grudgingly into retirement by advancing age) I fully understand the emotions (fear, horror) and the rationalizations of intellect (helplessness) that arise when the best laid of plans go terribly wrong.

    Yet, the full thread of your blog was by far more interesting than the original text of your blog. I was tempted to pull out my copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (of the American Psychiatric Association) in order to proffer a tentative diagnosis for some the negative responders (e.g., Frumps, CaptX, Your Mama). But, I know that the family and friends of these persons are more than well aware of their various mental disorders.

    My advice to you all, continue to confront them wherever and whenever they offer their deluded comments. Fight their insanity with solid evidence, with reasoned opinions, and with the knowledge that “right” only beats “wrong” when “right” has the courage to stand and fight.

    Happy New Year
    (whatever calendar you use)

  310. BernardoAntonino Reply to BernardoAntonino

    guagliò t si fatt e’ sord cu stu fotografij!!!

  311. BernardoAntonino Reply to BernardoAntonino

    comunque la prossima volta prendi il treno.. O diavolo tene e ccorna!!!!!
    PS : Errata corrige : “stu” sta per “sti”
    PPS : vuoi aggiungere qualcosa?…mmmm….Senza nulla a pretendere……

  312. A concerned consumer Reply to A

    All of you that were on that flight please send you comments (good or bad) to the CEO. His name is Bill Ayer and his email address is Bill Ayer and his email is bill.ayer@alaskaair.com

  313. Mr Death Reply to Mr

    Steve Hayes (a.k.a. “Sh*t For Brains”, or “clueless twit”)

    Before you call someone an idiot, perhaps you should get off your fat behind and do some research. If you did, you would find that the phone functionality can be turned off, and PDA and camera features will continue to work.

    Perhaps you should fix your cranio-rectal inversion before you embarass yourself again.

  314. Jeremy – Don’t listen to the freaks who insist on tearing you down (which I’m sure you aren’t), though who would have thought there are so many angry aviation experts trolling through blogs! As many others have said – it would be interesting what they would have done in the same situation. Don’t even get me started on the technical nit-picking. Glad both of u are safe…

  315. Hi guys. I’m a b737 type rated pilot and i only want to state that probably the burning smell comes from the overhead oxygen generators from the passangers oxigen masks. Thats normal cause the high temperatures this gadgets reaches.
    I’m glad all this incident was resolved propely.

  316. GREAT FIRST HAND ACCOUNT.
    TERRIBLE NITPICKING YOUR ACCOUNT.
    GLAD EVERYONE MADE IT THRU OK.
    IT WAS YOUR LUCKY FLIGHT THAT
    YOU GOT TO WRITE ABOUT.

  317. Gab ita Reply to Gab

    Your shocking story was linked on one of the main italian internet portal, but our local (and as local I mean european!!) tv-news said nothing about this dangerous accident….sadly I suppose that events like this can happen often in modern passenger aviation, and they thought was better to not give this information to people that may be possible future clients of the company… Very very glad you made it and that you bring us this detailed report! (sorry for my english, I surely made a bit of mistakes..:-)

  318. And now you know why I take Ativan before I fly…..

    🙂

  319. Here’s a great website which discusses this potential air disaster….and others.
    http://airdisaster.com/

  320. Ironically, on AD.com, the consecutive failure of mechanical, structural and/or human components or “holes” are known as the “Swiss Cheese” factor.

    BTW, compared to AD.com, the “technical nitpicking” here “hardly makes a dent in it,” — pardon the pun!

  321. Hi Jeremy,
    Glad to hear that you and your fiancee are ok and able to blog about this incident. Hope this means all your bad luck has been used up for the year. Hope 2006 will bring you more positive experiences. Happy new year from Australia

  322. Jeremy,

    Clicked on your article from ‘Clicked’ on MSNBC. I am truly thankful that you and your fiance are alright, considering how much worse the situation could have been.

    I am only posting further to comment on the appalling manners, crudity, and cruelty of other postings here, commenting on your experience. I am always amazed at just how truly rude some people are.

    I’ve almost come to expect it, on the exclusively political blogs, where it seems some people have far too much time on their hands, and far too little concern for one another in their hearts. Now, as I read some of these comments, and other postings of a personal nature on different blogs, I feel there is a woeful lack of human goodness and basic civility creeping up on us.

    These abusive people really need to re-connect with living, breathing, human beings again.

  323. Thank goodness that everyone on board got to the ground safely. It’s a shame to see a few nitpicking your account. Ironically, if you would have died and your pictures had been recovered, people would have been talking about your cool head under dire circumstances as you tried to leave a record of what transpired. And I hate to break it to some of the naysayers, but the only “minor” emergency landing is one that you watch from the safety of your living room. If you’re in a plane experiencing one, its a whole different story. Thank you for providing us with your account.

  324. Jeremy,
    Your being “enraged” regarding the use of non-union labor as being a factor in this incident is outrageous. Planes takeoff and land thousands of times each day in this country and I feel confident that regardless of which labor (unionized or non-unionized) is employed makes no difference regarding safety of those flying passengers. You go ahead and slam the use of non union labor as a factor in this incident and I’ll slam the use of lazy, liberal union labor as a big reason the airlines are in financial straits! You should focus on what went right to save your union loving butt rather than being enraged who Alaska Airlines choose to employ.

  325. Here’s a URL that is Alaska Airlines official response to the NTSB regarding the crash of Alaska Flight 261. Among the startling revelations Alaska’s hired guns came up with–you guessed it–the MD-80 sucks! That’s right kids! Alaska says that the jackscrew assembly on an MD-80–CAN’T BE PROPERLY LUBRICATED–due to an inherent design flaw.

    Also, there is NO REDUNDANT (Back-up)SYSTEM for the rear elevator as there was on the DC-8, nope for the DC-9, MD-80, MD-83 and 717, there’s just a single elevating control back there in the tail, so when that one fails, into the Pacific you fall.

    Bryan….any thoughts on why Alaska Airlines might claim that there are engineering problems with the MD-80?

    http://www.ntsb.gov/events/2000/aka261/docket/239224.pdf

  326. hello Jeremy! I happy that you snd your girlfriend have surveyed this terrible experience! I hope that you will forget about it. happy new year!
    elena

  327. You should show each comment’s originating IP address. Then mark the comments from Alaska Air. Then everyone can see for themselves. Good you made it alive!

  328. What a terrible experience, I’m glad you could write about it on your blog!
    I can’t believe the amount of nasty comments! Well, instead of getting readers against you, these messages just reached the opposite I hope you’ll find out more about it. Success!

  329. Great story! Sorry the world is full of jerks and glad you are ok for another day.

  330. …thks God y are all OK….and don’t waste your time trying to translate those portuguese comments…it’s a shame for me cause I’m also brazilian…..

  331. Re:

    “Maybe if you turned your cell phone off like you are supposed to, none of this would have happened. Idiot.”

    I don’t know that I have ever heard of a cellphone causing a foot-long gash in the skin of a plane. Maybe if the guy driving the baggage cart was talking on one…

    If I am ever in a situation like this, I hope that once I’m finished ruining my underwear and screaming for my mommy I have the presence of mind to take some pictures.

  332. Glad you and your girlfriend are okay, can’t imagine what you guys must have been going through. Boy, what a ride.

  333. Glad to be reading your account from you instead of about you! I don’t know what I would do in that situation. As a non-pilot, I wouldn’t know what questions or factors to think about. I don’t know which is worse: not knowing what eventualities would happen or knowing, with the knowledge that you cannot do anything about it. Well, you’ve definitely got a story to tell your kids one day.

  334. In such situation you were keeping good with courage. No one can bear you. Be good. And keep imformed everyone with your blog.

  335. Hi, Jeremy. Nice to see the mindless and hostile attacks against you have mitigated, sorry you had to go through that.

    Few things I’d like to comment on. First of all, I flew on an Alaska MD80 out of SEA to LAX the day after your flight so it was on my mind but of little concern. I’m also a private pilot (trained at SMO) whose had some interesting events as a pilot, including a few bouts of severe turbulence where the aircraft’s integrity was at risk.

    Anyway, what the armchair critics (including some pilot’s comments I’ve read on other boards) fail to understand is that from a passenger’s perspective you only knew a few basic things:

    Loud bang, masks dropping, noise increasing, plane descending FAST, and scary smells in the cabin. Some better informed sources have fortunately stepped into to explain what caused them but that would frighten most anyone. I gaurantee you that the heart rates in the cockpit in the first few minutes were every bit as fast as the passenger’s were!

    The pilots didn’t know what caused the bang or the decompression but they did know how to deal with it, and it sounds like they did everything exactly right. But the reality is that it -could- have been the start of a catastrophic event so they were VERY busy getting down to 10K while running emergency checklists on the other systems to make sure it wasn’t the beginning of something more serious.

    Which, under the circumstances we know now, was unlikely because commercial airframes are built with a “ribs” that keep a hull tear from expanding. IOW, no lives were in any real jeapordy but with all the noise, rapid descending and wierd smells, none of the passengers could know that for sure, and neither did the pilots at first.

    The MD80 series aren’t my favorite planes but they’re tough with a very good if not stellar safety record. And to respond to someone else’s comments about airframe age, it can be essentially infinite as long as it’s properly maintained, inspected, and upgraded.

    Which, unfortunately, can be a pretty big if – sometimes they miss things. Big things, that kill people. But that’s rarely the fault the of the airplane itself. But yes, newer planes with newer systems are generally safer. Technology marches on, but even 20-30 year old commercial airliners can be operated quite safely within their inherent design criteria.

    Nevermind the cutrate baggage handlers, my biggest concern as a passenger is the offshoring of major inspections and overhauls, and counterfit or sub-par replacement parts. I hope to be proven wrong but I suspect that maintainance related accidents are going to increase in the future.

    Jeremy, if you don’t mind I’d like to give you some advice as one pilot to another. If this scared you as much as you describe I strongly reccomend getting some additional training. Some aerobatics training would go a long way, IMHO. Once you’ve learned how to handle spins and other unusual attitudes your confidence level will increase a lot. A huge part of being a safe pilot is being able to react to extreme or unusual circumstances properly regardless of your personal fear level. I’ve been tossed like an October leaf in a tornado a couple of times and that training helped me deal with it both technically and mentally. The only way to really know how to regain control of non-flying airplane is to actually do it.

    I’d also suggest getting an IFR rating or at least hiring an instructor to get additional hood time to hone your instrument skills. It’s a real confidence booster to know how to safely fly blind.

    Those things will go a long way towards improving your ability to handle things that might panic you now, given your description of the airliner incident.

    And here’s some advice for you passengers out there: actually pay attention to the safety briefings no matter how many times you’ve heard them before, read the info cards in the seat pocket, and if anything bad should actually happen do EXACTLY what the flight attendents pilots tell you to.

    Lastly, someone posted this earlier:

    “Are you aware of another in-flight decompression caused by a baggage handler mistake? I didn’t think so.”

    Many years ago the cargo door of a 747 wasn’t closed properly and opened in flight, causing the loss of several lives but didn’t bring down the plane.

  336. Jeremy, you sure do get a lot of “experts” on your blog. When I say experts, I mean people that think they know everything and flame on someones blog because they’re too scared to speak their mind in real life. Way to sound tough though. I call them internet tough guys.

    Glad to hear that everyone on the flight was ok.

  337. Joy Garrelts Reply to Joy

    After reading Bob Gossom’s report and others regarding the way you were treated by Alaska when you returned to SEA following the incident, I am appalled. I have always flown Alaska but I find their attitude and treatment when you returned deplorable. They had a responsibility to do everything possible to accomodate you and others to reassure those who were frightened and checked to see if anyone needed medical attention. I question their ethics. I’ve always thought they were a step above the others but there is no excuse for their having no Alaska officials there to at least reassure you and apologize. I would have had a hard time getting back on the plane. Makes me question if I want to fly Alaska anymore.

    I’m glad you’re all safe and sorry you had to go through such a frightening experience. I’m sorry Jeremy has had to take such abuse for reporting the story but I’m so glad he did. Thanks.

    BTW, my husband and I flew out of SEA the next day to Burbank. We were on board but the flight was delayed for what we were told were mechanical difficulties – “a light wasn’t working properly”. We noticed all the luggage carts were pushed together and the luggage workers were standing together in a group outside our window. There were many supervisors milling around keeping the workers in a group. All my husband and I knew at that point about the incident from the day before was that an Alaska Airline plane bound for Burbank had landed with a hole in it. I think we read it in the paper earlier in the morning. We waited for a long, long time with updates now and then from the pilot about how they were working on the problem. I went to the back of the plane for awhile to stand and during a conversation with a young flight attendant she told me that actually there was a scratch in the paint on the fuselage and after the incident of the day before the supervisors were investigating and making a decision about whether or not it was deliberate and if the plane would be used. Then she told me she hadn’t really heard what had happened the day before and asked me what it was about. That was a surprise but if it was true, I chalked it up to how young she was. After all, she had told me what was really going on and instead of the captain’s version. After a couple of hours, the captain said the mechanical difficulties” had been resolved and we were free to depart.

  338. Αριστοτέλης Reply to Αριστοτέλης

    How about depressurizing your brain?

  339. Joy, my flight to LAX on the same day was held for 20 minutes because of a water leak in the aft galley.

    Oh, and during the safety briefing one of the FA’s totally screwed up the demonstration of the oxygen masks. The irony wasn’t lost on me so I started giggling. The gal sitting next to me asked what was so funny and I had to explain what happened the day before. First she’d heard of it, so I spent the next few minutes calming her down.

    My guess is there’s more than a few memo’s circulating around the airline this week about ground crew, preflight, and passenger briefing procedures…

  340. Look at the MD-80 airplane and all the other stupid McDonnell Douglas products and you’ll see the turbine engines mounted right onto the fuselage or incorporated into the tail and just think about how stupid it is to have a rapidly spinning turbine mounted next to the passenger cabin and/or incorporated into one of the control surfaces of the aircraft. It’s just engineering at it’s lowest common denominator–and done by absolute morons who never learned their lessons even though the MD-11, DC-10 and many others were completely failed products that to this day–suck really hard.

    Then look at the Boeing product with wing-mounted engines and it seems pretty smart and wildly successful by comparison–don’t you think.

    The President of the US flys in a Boeing 747 for a reason–wouldn’t you say?

    Stop defending that dumb-ass aircraft! I’m sick & tired of hearing about how safe it supposedly is. Why don’t you mention the MD-11, DC-10 and other MD-80/83/87 design cousins that have gotten a ton of folks killed. Yeah, I thought so…silence.

  341. Thanks for posting this, it’s amazing. It’s like the guy who took pictures after the Air France jet made a crash landing in Toronto and 200+ people escaped burning to death within 3 minutes.

    Let the trolls make themselves feel big and bad. I highly doubt anyone in Jeremy’s situation is going to carefully note and test what he smells or makes sure to adjust the camera settings on his Treo.

    I’ve been on MD-80’s more than enough times to know a nasty smell is pretty much constant in the cabin, with or without a hole in the fuselage. I avoid flying any MD or DC planes at all costs.

  342. This is why I will never set foot on an airplane. That and my unrelenting fear of heights.

    Glad you made it through.

  343. friend

    is amasing friend wecarefull in other plane his kill ..
    bye …

  344. Jeremy

    I found your story today on the online edition of one of the most important newspapers in Peru.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sure it will help us decide which airlines we should use in the future.

    http://www.elcomercioperu.com.pe/EdicionOnline/Html/2006-01-04/onlMundo0432229.html

  345. Luis Ugarte Reply to Luis

    I read “El Comercio” this morning.

  346. Jeremy,
    As a non-pilot and nervous flier, I found your account both unnerving and reassuring. I have been on many flights that have had “incidents” — malfunctioning flaps, loss of engine power, cabin doors coming unsealed — but nothing as harrowing as you described. It is comforting to know that commercial pilots are well trained for such incidents, and that the planes in which we all fly — though flawed — are capable of recovering from all but the most catastrophic of mishaps.
    As a frequent Internet user, I was also pleased to see the positive posts on this site eventually drown out, for the most part, the initial chorus of derisive dribble from the dissaffected … Before the Internet (remember, anyone?), one was not so easily or frequently reminded of the enormous gulf between the good and evil of our quaint little species.
    Jeremy, glad you, your fiancee, and your fellow passengers are safe. Be well.

  347. Hello,
    I am very surprised to see that in the modern USA the MD-80 are still in use….

  348. Alejandro Toledo Reply to Alejandro

    I watched your amazing story in Aja´s newspaper, the most important newspaper in Peru.

  349. Here’s another tidbit you might find interesting, there’s a little know parlance in the travel/aviation business called “last machine of the day” (LMD), it is the final aircraft out of any given airport to any given destination. In the nearly 3 years I’ve flown PDX to LAX, or SEA to LAX, LAX to PDX and so on–that 9:30PM flight out–the last one you can catch–was NEVER a McDonnell Douglas aircraft–period.

    It is ALWAYS a Boeing 737-something.

    Do you suppose it could be just a “happy accident” of scheduling that the most reliable aircraft are magically slated to be that last-possible, un-cancellable flight out?

    The one that if for some reason it didn’t fly, Alaska would have to pay for overnight Hotel stays for all the passengers…..hmmm……I just wonder

  350. Ive worked for airlines for a few years, baggage handling, check-in, and as a Cabin Manager (lead Flight Attendant). Ive also worked as a charter pilot.

    First of all – these ground incidents happen all the time. Interestingly, having worked around low cost/fare airlines and full fare flag carriers, the low cost airlines aircraft are miles ahead – far less dings and scratches – they also take the dings and scratches much more seriously.

    Working in the cabin, I have experienced 2 emergency landings, a cabin fire, and 2 depressurisations (one we had no passengers – the other we did). Interestingly all of these incidents were on the very same aircraft over the space of 6months.

    These events are frightening for those who are involved. What I find more frightening is the determination of the airline to silence any talk and pretend it never happened. Now I didnt run to the media, but when I raised the Cabin Fire issue (probably the more serious of the incidents I experienced), I was told to leave it. I chose not to, and they tried so hard to blame me – eventually realising that they couldnt – helps to have an old timer engineer on side.

    Personally I say good on you. Your blog will make Alaska a safer airline. You can bet every baggage handler at Alaska is being told just how important it is to be careful, and how essential that all dings are reported.

    For the record, I struggle now not to roll my eyes and mumble ‘not again’ every time something goes wrong…

    Hopefully you wont have to go through it again…

    Thanks for the interesting read!

  351. http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2006/q1/060105a_nr.html

    Boeing announces record orders for 2005 at 1,029 planes, handing Airbus their ass. By contrast, last year Boeing sold 272 planes.

    Not a SINGLE McDonnell Douglas engineered product (not one) is included in the 1,029 airplane total. Boeing also announced the retirement of the 717 program effective immediately!

    Read it for yourself….

    http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2006/q1/060105a_nr.html

  352. Everyone should read another analysis of this incident at http://salon.com/tech/col/smith/2006/01/06/askthepilot168/index.html.
    Very illuminating!

  353. Jackass!
    If you are going to blog, learn not to question your betters.

  354. What Daavi, who wrote in portuguese, is way out of line. Translation: “I am sorry for the incident but I wish you would have died.” Comments like this ought to be banned from a forum that is looking to address serious issues such as the lives of people at stake.

    Jeremy, thank you for your contribution.

  355. The joker running this blog is full of crap (and a censor). Go to http://www.salon.com and see the current issue of Ask The Pilot for details.

  356. I read about your blog post on Salon’s excellently reported column Ask the Pilot.

    Brings a little balance and perspective to your story….

  357. Oy Vey Reply to Oy

    Wonder how long we get before he logs in and notices all the links to the Ask the Pilot info.

  358. Wow! You survived such a scary ordeal. Good for you. It must be your pilot training that got you through the “ordeal”.

  359. Alan Donaldson Reply to Alan

    I, too am a private pilot, IFR with 1600 hours. However, I am not a grandstanding nervous nellie. Bad stuff happens occasionally. It is not fun to watch an opportunist make more of it than actually happened.

  360. Ask the Pilot Fan Reply to Ask

    Just read the Ask the Pilot column. I’m sure the incident was terrifying for a passenger, but I’m not sure that someone who was traumatized by the experience is emotionally ready to deal with the hard facts. Mr. Hermanns is too invested in his own fears to be able to comment objectively on the experience, and while he has a right to say what he thinks, I would hope that most people would understand that they are reading the thoughts of someone who has been through emotional trauma. Sadly, I don’t think many people see it in this context.

    Visit salon.com and read “Ask the Pilot” for some good examples of why Mr. Hermanns needs a good therapist more than a media blitz.

  361. I’m sure all the Ask the Pilot references will soon be deleted (http://www.salon.com/tech/col/smith/2006/01/06/askthepilot168/index.html), but it’s amusing to see that for all the intemperate posts here it was a little sober reflection on the situation that Mr. Hermanns found to be intolerable (or, should we say, panic inducing?)

  362. 1) I fly small planes too. I pay lots of attention when I’m cruising around in the big birds, and pre-9/11 had a few opportunities to ride jump in various Boeings. But I wouldn’t pretend that I knew exactly what was going on in an emergency situation, from seat 18D. I’d leave that to the professionals in the cockpit.

    2) I’ve been in one actual airplane crash (by which I mean a two-passenger experimental aircraft making unintended impact with the ground at high speed, causing serious damage to the landing gear, knocking out the electrical system, bouncing to the level of the treetops, and finally stabilizing and bringing the aircraft around for a very cautious approach with an inch or two of clearance between the belly of the plane and the landing strip due to the now-bent landing gear), and I walked away from it. What I learned from that experience, and what I learned during pilot training, and what I continue to learn from Ask the Pilot and other readings I frequently do about aviation, is that airplanes are built to fly and land safely. Accidents happen, but planes are designed so that, usually, if something goes wrong with one part of the plane, the machine should still be able to make it to a place of safety, safely. That is what happened on your flight. An interesting anecdote to tell the grandchildren, maybe, but hardly something that should put you on CNN.

    3) You deleted a post from Patrick Smith, twice, and then flamed him? Dude, get a grip! Even when he is sedated on the dentist’s chair with his mouth stuffed with pointy tools, the Ask the Pilot author can tell you more about aviation than you’ll ever know. You owe him, and your readers, a massive apology.

  363. Rhys Williams Reply to Rhys

    Patrick Smith destroyed you on Salon.com today. Too bad your knowledge doesn’t match your penchant for self-aggrandizement. RHW

  364. Salon Subscriber Reply to Salon

    Patrick Smith (“Ask The Pilot”) is a bozo! Don’t give the grumpy postings of that hack too much credit.

    If there was a more bitter and miserable pilot out there, Salon apparently would have found him. Just take a look at his past columns: About half of his writing focuses on aviation, the rest devolves into attacks on his readers, defensive rants, and smearing his critics. Your deletion of his posts was apparently too much for his fragile ego to bear.

    Jeremy, you were on that plane, and your immediate concern when the masks came down sounds more than justified. You must have experienced quite an adrenaline rush.

    I, too, am a pilot and have experienced one terrifying moment as a passenger on a commercial aircraft, and even though I knew there was not a real threat of crashing, I will never forget the heart-stopping moment of terror where all I could think about was how to get off the plane.

    It’s easy for Patrick Smith to sit in his cramped little apartment in Somerville, MA, and tell you how you should have felt up there and pick apart your eye-witness account. He wasn’t there, but he is, as usual, wasting his part-time job as a writer to belittle anyone who dares disagree with him.

  365. seattle witness Reply to seattle

    A Menzies employee has damaged another Alaska Airlines plane on the ground in Seattle. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002722639_webalaska05.html . A fact like this should put to rest the commentators who have been suggesting that Jeremy is out of line in calling attention to this problem. I’ve been a longtime supporter and passenger on Alaska Airlines, but the spazzy, bared-teeth, and wildly accusatory behavior and comments of their personnel on this list has changed my mind.

  366. Another Pilot Reply to Another

    I skip the tabloids so I didn’t learn of your harrowing ordeal until I read about it on salon.

    I am also a pilot and aircraft owner. You are a sensationalist moron. There is no story here, move along.

    A DA-20 has little to do w/commercial jetliners and a private pilot ticket is a trivial accomplishment.

    Next time you ride in a airplane, use “Depends” and spare the cabin crew some trouble.

  367. you said: “P.S.: I am not editing any comments…the server is being overloaded and not resolving while I’m trying approve them all with this much traffic.

    posted by Jeremy on 12.27.05 @ 6:23 pm”

    You edited the stuff writeen by a real pilot:Patrick Smith..

    check this site out: http://tinyurl.com/b2wsa

  368. Here come all the guys certified to fly the MD-80, who don’t want to lose their cool $100+K a year to fly the ‘ol rust buckets, then the airline pundits telling us all how super-safe it is because what ELSE are they really going to say. Boeing guys who don’t know what to say because anything they say could create legal liability as they were stupid enough to buy Douglas in its death throes–even though I am sure they would LOVE to say–“Buy a real airplane fool”.

    And then some of us who’ve logged more hours as passengers than most PILOTS who are the only ones willing to say the airplane sucks and its a scary, stinky ride.

    The same pussy-ass-Alaska pilots who jerked around their jackscrews on the tarmac and overheated their shit so they could chicken-out of flying the MD-80 at all. The same ones who turned their stuff around when they heard some “wind noise” in the cockpit. You’re all so, so brave!

  369. I gotta agree with Patrick Smith’s article on http://www.salon.com

  370. For all you hear about how Blogs are changing the world they are nothing new…just a different way for people to share and bash each other.

    There is no truth coming out of here just Robert Jeremiah’s version of it and others opinions.

    My view on blogs is if you are going to share it on the internet at least be a big boy and be ready for others to disagree. And don’t be part of the American culture of blame…it gets kinda old…..

  371. A concerned consumer Reply to A

    Here’s a second incident from the non-union, low paid, don’t care how they perform their job outfit called Menzies

    http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_010506_news_alaska_plane_.4aaecdf8.html

    Sadly, I think someone will be hurt or killed before Alaska Airlins will take action.

  372. A concerned consumer Reply to A

    Matt, you can do my job when I have to fly the airplane and land on a dark, foggy, stormy night like I did last week in Seattle. You up for that? I mean you’ve logged more hours sitting on your ass in the back as a passenger right? That means you know a hell of a lot more about the MD-80 that I do right? So do my job and give me a well deserved break.

    And just in case if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, sit down, shut the hell up and listen to the announcements. They just might save your disagreeing ass.

  373. Jeremy,

    I you want to be taken seriously, let Patrick Smith’s comments stand. If you want to be exposed as an exaggerating hysteric looking for his 15 minutes of fame, then keep his comments off the blog.

    Two words, Jeremy, two words…

    Kato Kaelin

  374. What happened to Patrick Smith’s ?

  375. Where are the comments Patrick Smith posted here?

  376. Well since this thread or blog or comment section has gone way off topic. I’ll add my useless 2 cents. Well acually never mind. Except for this, Jeremy posted what it was like to go through his experience as he saw it.

    As for “Ask A Pilot” Patrick Smith I went and read his take. Well Pats version from his chair at home. May have expained what was happening from a pilots standpoint. It had nothing to do with what is happening in the passenger area.

    Anyway if you choose to degrade or berate or insult me. Have fun, because I’ll never be back here to review, respond or interact.

    P:S: Patrick Smiths writings seem to be just explantion on how it wasn’t the pilots fault. And of course it wasn’t the pilots fault in this case. But then again it wasn’t the pilots fault in any thing he has written about….

  377. C. Fontaine Reply to C.

    Private pilots dropping breathless nodding expertise about MD80s and counterfeit parts??!

    You are a joke. Please alert us when and where you aviate, so we can issue a NOTAM.

    On behalf of the real pilots with real experience that understand reality, thanks for nothing. You’re still part of the wide-eyed public, but you should conduct yourself as a pilot (you’re biggest fantasy is saving the day with an incapacitated captain, I’m sure). You’re papparazzi instead. Nice. Smell the JP4?! LOL.

    Byebye.

  378. Hey look, my comments from yesterday were erased! Just like Patrick Smith’s! To reiterate:

    foolishness + censorship = child.

  379. smarter 'n' you Reply to smarter

    Hey asshole,

    If it hurts your feelings to be criticized by a reasonable, sane, far more knowledgeable pilot (Patrick Smith), maybe you should record your blog entries in a tiny notebook you keep under your bed. Welcome to the Web, where posers cannot hide for long.

  380. Carlos Chavez - Peru Reply to Carlos

    Nice to read your appreciate description of an unpleasant flight. Thanks from the peruvian jungle to share with us this experience. Thanks to God you are among us.
    Es maravilloso tenerte entre nosotros y poder compartir esta experiencia que nos llena de emoción.

  381. Salon Subscriber Reply to Salon

    I repeat: Patrick Smith (”Ask The Pilot”) is a bozo. (See my comment above for an explanation of that hack’s many failings as a writer and person.) And the comments of his knuckle-dragging fans here demonstrate that Patrick Smith is only good at motivating other bozos to speak their feeble minds.

  382. Note: I never said I wouldn’t “delete” a comment, just stated I wasn’t “editing” them.

    This is hilarious! Keep the Comments flowing…

  383. This whole this has truly turned into a disapointment. Just an ugly shouting match between village idiots.

    My prediction: Blogs go the way of the rubiks cube, pet rock and social liberalism within 5 years…..

    And none too soon

  384. More great experiences at Alaska Airlines:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002730408_alaska10.html

    They seem on a downward spiral…

  385. I’ve seen this phenomenon before with people who are thrust into the national limelight due to a misfortune. You have not only made too much out of a mishap that actually went right (all were safe, plane stayed together and landed safely) but you’re now one of those guys who is doomed to make hay from a minor misfortune to the point where it now defines you, making your plane ‘mishap’ the ultimate mixed blessing. Given your fame chasing, I would guess that, as defined by you, your life has now peaked, and you will be chasing this for the rest of your life. I hope you’ve enjoyed your 15 minutes, and good luck on your reality show auditions.

  386. So did you get your free ticket yet? I just got mine. Not sure if I’ll use it though.

    Wes/

  387. Salon Subscriber Reply to Salon

    That bozo Patrick Smith (“Ask the Pilot”) is at it again.

    Rather than taking the high road by conceding that it was inappropriate to mock and criticize a passenger for feeling frightened, he has instead kept to his usual loser ways.

    This week, he again takes the fine opportunity that Salon provides him to publish a column about aviation and uses it instead to settle petty scores and heap scorn on everyone around him.

    (As an aside, do you think he would be so bold if he had to confront his critics in person? Photo of pencil-knecked Patrick Smith: http://www.gawker.com/topic/the-5×5-interview-patrick-smith-ask-the-pilot-020953.php )

    Fortunately for Patrick Smith, the exam for a pilot’s license doesn’t require that candidate have an ounce of personal integrity.

  388. Eric Kumasaka Reply to Eric

    I recently flew with Alaska Air (Jan 8, ’06) on a return flight from San Francisco to Seattle (flight 543).

    There were items missing from my luggage and I’m sure they were stolen. I reported this to Alaska Air and I’ve yet to hear from them.

  389. Just a few thoughts.

    Thanks to the high level of training your crew undergoes (continually), their quick and competent action kept you and your girlfriend safe. Thank God for the high level of training and high level of SKILL employed by your flight crew, both the pilots and the flight attendants. Someday soon the airlines hope to out-source pilot and flight attendant jobs to overseas applicants. Think: Wal-Mart. When that day arrives the chances of you and your girlfriend walking away from a rapid-decompression will be MUCH, MUCH lower. Compare the accident rate of the American airlines to that of foreign carriers, especially in developing countries.

    Under the non-union ramp worker program, Alaska Airlines has had many more ramp incidents involving aircraft and ground equipment damage. The unionized company rampers had accidents too but the new non-union (and VERY POORLY TRAINED) (training them adequately costs money) rampers have done significant damage system-wide in the few short months they’ve been on the job. The contractor basically emptied-out the local unemployment office and gave them jobs on the ramp.

    If you had paid closer attention to the safety briefing during push-back you would have known how to don your oxygem mask quickly and properly. Mom and dad first, then hold the mask against baby’s face. It’s not rocket science but you do have to pay attention. The stewardess isn’t standing there briefing you just to annoy you and interrupt your conversation/reading the paper/sneaking a peek at your Blackberry. They really are there for your safety.

    The reason airlines are going to cheap, non-union workers is because passengers DEMAND cheaper and cheaper air fares. Management will NOT cut their own pay but they will sock it to their labor groups to get the pay and benefit cuts that will help YOU get a cheap fare on Expedia or the company website. We all love CHEAP but it really does have a price.

    Lastly, I go back to the high level of crew training. Crews are paid well because they have a HUGE responsibility: to transport you and your loved ones to your destination as smoothly and as comfortably as possible, regardless of the relentless attacks on their pay and benefits. If a ramper knocks a hole in the plane it’s the crew who ultimately has to deal with it. If the plane goes down then the ramper can just quit and go back to McDonald’s. They almost never discipline these low-wage contract workers but they always go after the crews. Oh, and those rampers DO NOT pass through the TSA security check point, they simply walk right through and onto the ramp, backpacks and all! The crews have to pass through TSA and often get jacked-up for their shoes, etc., but the rampers cruise right around such checks.

    Fly safe! Remind people that the professional crew on that Alaska flight saved your hide! I hope you thanked them as you walked off the airplane, safe and sound.

    -BB

  390. I have absolutely had it with people blaming everything on the unions ro the customer who wants lower fares and all this other crap for the concessions these airlines “just have to make” to compensate all senior executives over seven figures each per year.

    It’s a bunch of garbage, balderdash, poppycock and bullshit–period. There is no airline currently operating that has a greater number of union workers that Southwest airlines. Nearly all Southwest’s employees are members of labor unions.

    Can you explain for us Mr. -BB how they can continue to compete in the airline business while still maintaining very comparable fares to what Alaska gets?

    Can you explain how they will be the ONLY operating airline in America to turn a profit this year and probably the next?

    Can you Mr. economic guru explain how this is possible? No! Yeah…that’s what I thought, just another guy running his mouth trying to explain a business he probably works in, but doesn’t even understand.

  391. I take it ‘Salon Subscriber’ is merely another of your nicknames.

  392. Salon Subscriber Reply to Salon

    I can assure you, “Critic,” that I am not Jeremy Hermanns.

    And I can also assure you, “Critic,” that neither Jeremy Hermanns nor I am the only ones who apparently share the opinion that Patrick Smith is a bozo.

    See, for instance, Alex Beam’s column in the Boston Globe dated January 18, 2006, titled “You Want a Piece of Me,” in which he writes about getting rid of some of the “junk cluttering up [his] office.” In that column, Globe columnist Beam includes the following great bit about Patrick Smith’s error-filled book:

    “Item No. 3: My inscribed copy of ‘Ask the Pilot: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel’ [i.e., ‘junk’] by Somerville’s own Patrick Smith.

    I plan to quietly sell off plenty of inscribed books in the coming years, but ‘Pilot’ made the first cut for a couple of reasons. First off, I figured that once Patrick finished being angry, he would appreciate the publicity for his wonderful book, which is a collection of his columns from Salon magazine. Second, included in this priceless first edition is a semi-hysterical ‘Dear Reader’ note from Patrick blasting his publisher for allowing ‘Pilot’ to go to press with typographical errors. Excerpt: ‘Please, do not inform me of any mistakes that you come across. I don’t need the additional stress.’ This was not the only time that Patrick complained about his publisher in a semi-public forum.

    It’s in ‘Nonfiction Books,’ and I’m asking for a $5 initial bid, with the proceeds earmarked for the Audubon Society, which shares Patrick’s interest in creatures trying to navigate the wild blue yonder.”

    So, while Patrick Smith gets some praise for his aviation writing (which I actually think is quite good; it’s the rest of the crap he spews that makes him such an easy target), he is widely recognized to be — at the very least — an angry complainer.

    All this to show, “Critic,” that it’s merely wishful thinking to believe that Jeremy Hermanns is the only one who has reason to believe Patrick Smith is a joke.

  393. Yes Matt, I can explain Southwest’s ability to succeed in the marketplace. Herb Kelleher for one. As SWA’s founder and longtime CEO Herb set the tone early on that his employees are his number one asset and he meant it. He treats them with respect and they respect him. He pays them to go fast and to cut corners (when possible) and they do. The pilot group even bought him a new Harley for his birthday back in the ’90s (when things were going VERY well for SWA and other carriers). The current SWA CEO, I think Kelly is his name, has said in the Wall Street Journal last month that asking SWA employees to take pay cuts to save the airline money would be “a failure.” You won’t hear THAT from any other airline CEO. Well, Gordon Bethune of Continental is also supportive of his employee groups but that’s about it for supportive CEOs. Of course, if the industry really went downhill from high fuel prices or some kind of (further) economic collapse then SWA could be forced to get concessions from their labor groups but it’d be a last resort, not a first choice as it is at every other carrier.

    (Management’s goal: Get as many concessions from the employees as possible (by crying “poverty” early and often) and then, when the concessions have been achieved, award the top managers huge stock-option and cash bonuses for a job “well done.” Then spin it in the media that unions are still the reason for all the airline’s problems (not stupid management decisions–NEVER that). Declare victory and then go on a 30-day vacation.)

    Another aspect of Southwest’s success is a lucky gamble on fuel price hedging. They bought fuel futures at a fixed price and then when oil went to $60 a barrel SWA was locked-in at a much lower price. Smart! When their fuel hedges expire this year SWA may have to pass along the expense to their passengers in the form of higher fares. They may be able to avoid that but we’ll see.

    Again, the majority of the paying public seeks the cheapest fares while only a relative few are willing to pay the extra dollars for differing levels of service or convenience, such as a direct flight rather than several stops. With incomes for union and non-union workers alike being forced down, down, down, you can’t blame people for wanting things cheap. But remember, when it comes to air safety, the airlines tend to walk a very fine line between making money (or just not spending any) and safety. If they can put-off repairing a non-essential (for safe flight) item on an airplane for several days then they will. They’d much rather send an airplane to hot weather in Mexico without a ground air-conditioning system than to take the airplane out of service to fix it. Cheaper that way. Next time you’re on the ramp in Cabo or Puerto Vallarta sweating to death because the airplane’s ground air system is busted, remember that the airline, in order to give you a cheap fare, has made the decision to put-off repairing the air system and keep the airplane in revenue service. So don’t complain about the heat inside the plane, okay?

    -BB

  394. Thanks for posting your story… regardless of the flack you got for doing it.

  395. BB,

    Right on, so you well understand the metrics of the airline business and the hedging that goes on to both keep the aircraft aloft, remain semi-solvent, and keep fares competitive.

    I’m no longer flying in the MD-80 series of aircraft–period. I believe that the 737s are more survivable regardless of how poorly they’re maintained. I think Mick said the same thing earlier in the thread. As consumers, we just don’t have to get on the plane, or settle for whatever plane the airline chooses to fly. We just don’t. We can sit in the bar and “miss” our flights until a more suitable aircraft comes along. We can tell the reservations people that we simply refuse to fly on those planes. Alaska obviously isn’t going to stop flying them until people force them to do something. They should seriously look at selling those planes and leasing some newer Boeing products.

    Until the Alaska fleet no longer has MD-80s in their inventory I am sticking with Southwest for all my west coast travel. It’s $15-20K a year in business and it’s now elsewhere. I don’t even want the hassle of trying to figure out what kind of fucked up plane their going to ask me to get on.

    It’s only a matter of time before those things start falling from the sky.

  396. Matt, I am not afraid to board an MD-80 or any other aircraft type. 737s, the most popular and most successful narrow-body airliner (of all time?) has had its share of design flaws that have had to be worked out. No airplane is 100% safe, just as no car is, no train, no prescription drug, no diet, no security apparatus, etc., etc. (See where I’m going?) The MD will be around as long as it can create revenue. The day the MDs, or any other type go over a certain fixed cost number they will be retired. I know Alaska is buying as many new 737 aircraft as they can get, as is Southwest. Even bankrupt carriers such as Northwest and USAir have been buying new airplanes. Again, the cost structure of the airline biz is so skewed (ticket price vs. cost of providing that seat) that downward pressure on costs will remain relentless. (Except, of course, where upper management is concerned. For their pay, bonus, and benefit programs the sky is the limit baby! As Mel Brooks said in one of his movies: “It’s good to be king.”)

    Remember, you are in far more danger driving on the freeways of America than you ever will be on an airliner. Yeah, the service can be lacking and the seats crammed together, but it’s still one heck of a lot safer than just about any other mode of travel.

    -BB

  397. Paul Murray Reply to Paul

    I’m a 20 year Flight Attendant at another airline. The flight had to be the scariest thing you’ve ever been through at that point, but you were probably never in any danger of a fatal ending.

    The fear of the unknown is the worst. People will get absolutely crazy with the “what if”.

    I read a lot of the posts here and felt the neeed to clarify some of the points that people made.

    1)the burning smell in the cabin that occurs when the masks deploy is from the oxygen generators in the psu. It is shaped like a tomato juice can and has a heat shield on it. The shield accumulates dust on the top side. Everyone knows what the heater/furnace smells like the first time you run it.
    2)F/A responding that they have not heard what’s going on. Often they do know, but don’t have the techinical info to accurately communicate what the problem is. So to stop any misunderstanding, the leave it up to the pilots to communicate over the PA.
    3) there is no reason to distrust the MD-80/DC-9-80 and to prefer the 737. This accident could have happened to any aircraft. There is always a risk of an aircraft strike when you put equipment so close to the fuselage. My company does not allow the baggage carts to be placed near the a/c without using a belt loader.

    In 20 years I have only had one really scary thing happen, and it turned out we were never in any danger at all. A faulty switch in the nose wheel failed to show it retracked and up-locked. Several fly-bys to the control tower gave conflicting info. The worst part about the whole experience was the adrenaline sickness that I had for the rest of the day. The actual experience never seemed real, training kicked in and we just dealt with it.

    Lastly, anytime you are told that you’re returning to the airport for a problem, often there is a delay because you have to burn off fuel to reach your max-landing weight. Unless the situation is extremely dire, landing above your max landing weight could cause structural failure. Single aisle aircraft cannot “dump” fuel. The DC9, MD80, 737’s, A318,A319,A320,A321, and 757s cannot dump fuel. Just the wide body aircraft.

    Air travel is still the safest way for you to travel. and Jeremy, I’m not slamming you. But for the posters who are playing LazyBoy Quarter back, there’s more to a situation that what you actually see/hear/read. Look at Air France in Toronto last summer. The F/A’s were critisized by the media for only using 4 of the 8 doors. F/A’s are trained to never open a door if they see fire. and yet they evacuated all 300+ passengers in record time.

  398. My husband works for Menzies at Heathrow. He wasn’t even vaguely surprised. Concerned yes… surprised no. Glad you’re all ok now.

  399. Alaska really needs to do something about it’s operations at SEATAC. Everytime I turn on the news it seems like they are having another incident. I just had some items stolen from my luggage at SEATAC and their response made it seem like that happens all the time. I thought something was funny after it took nearly 45 minutes for our baggage on the last leg of the flight at 11:30 PM. I’m betting the supervisors were long gone and the baggage handlers were in the back looking for some goodies to sell on E-Bay. In response to some of the union non-union posts, I have only to say that incidents and stolen baggage reports have gone up 300% since Alaska got rid of it’s union workers. To me that says alot.

  400. Did you read about the six passengers suing Alaska Airlines for this incident? They’re suing for eardrum damage and emotional distress.

    Here’s the press release:

    Lawsuit Filed by Injured Passengers of Alaska Airlines Flight 536
    Friday February 3, 7:00 am ET
    Emergency Landing in Seattle from 26,000 Feet; Explosively Decompressing Jet Had Hole in Fuselage Caused by Ground Service Collision Prior to Take Off

    LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ — Six passengers of Alaska Air Flight 536, who in December suffered through a harrowing 30-minute flight after a one-foot-hole opened up in the airplane at 26,000 feet causing an explosive decompression of the cabin, today sued the airline and Menzies Aviation Group, a ground service provider. The airplane made an emergency landing in Seattle. The suit* was filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles on behalf of the passengers by the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP.
    ADVERTISEMENT

    The aircraft, an MD-83 model, was being loaded for a flight from Seattle- Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) to Burbank, CA, on December 26, 2005, when it was damaged on the ground by an unreported collision with a baggage- carrying vehicle controlled and operated by Menzies, a ground service provider to several airlines, including Alaska Airlines. Soon after take off, a one- foot-long hole was ripped out of the aircraft’s fuselage as a result of the ground collision, causing an explosive and violent decompression of the plane’s cabin that resulted in the plaintiffs’ physical and emotional injuries.

    “The defendants in this case negligently and carelessly disregarded and violated numerous safety procedures and training standards, and have caused these passengers — their customers — substantial injury,” said James P. Kreindler of Kreindler & Kreindler. “For this collision to go unreported prior to take off is really inexcusable, and is reflective of a troubling recent history between these two companies. This jet was not airworthy, and yet it still took off, seriously threatening the lives of all those aboard. The system terribly failed these passengers and the crew.”

    Problems with Ground Operator Known to Alaska Air Prior to Flight 536 Accident

    Last year, reportedly to save money, Alaska Air eliminated hundreds of unionized ground service positions at Sea-Tac, outsourcing these services to Menzies. “Alaska Air knew or should have known that Menzies was not competently handling its ground service responsibilities, and yet it continued to use the company to perform those services,” said attorney Daniel O. Rose of Kreindler. “Within four months of Alaska Air’s retention of Menzies, the operator’s ramp employees caused damage to the airline’s aircraft on at least 12 separate occasions. Employees of Menzies warned both the operator and the airline about serious training deficiencies of their ramp personnel and of the associated risks. The negligence of both companies resulting in the traumatic Flight 536 incident is quite clear.”

    The plaintiffs in this suit include Mark Reveley and Emma Hellsten of Los Angeles and four others who reside in Sweden. Their injuries include eardrum damage and hearing loss, affecting their ability to work, along with substantial emotional trauma.

    “Apart from their physical injuries, these passengers’ lives are profoundly changed by what they thought was their near-death experiences,” said Mr. Kreindler. “Some actually witnessed a piece of the plane flying past their windows. The cabin was in chaos, and passengers were saying their last goodbyes to loved ones. They are fortunate to have survived this flight, but many will continue to suffer serious long-term effects.”

    Similarities to Landmark American Airlines Turbulence Case

    The Kreindler attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Messrs. Kreindler and Rose in New York and Stuart R. Fraenkel in Los Angeles. The firm has handled thousands of aviation cases over the course of 50+ years. Among its many landmark cases, in 1999 the firm obtained the nation’s highest-ever award for emotional distress caused by turbulence for 13 passengers traumatized on American Airlines Flight 58. On June 25, 1995, the passengers of that plane experienced 30 seconds of severe turbulence as the aircraft rose and fell hundreds of feet while flying over Minnesota. The airline admitted liability. “As with Flight 58, many of the passengers of Flight 536 thought they were going to die and deserve compensation for the emotional trauma of having their lives so callously imperiled,” said Mr. Rose.

    About Kreindler & Kreindler LLP

    Founded in 1950, Kreindler & Kreindler LLP (http://www.kreindler.com) is internationally recognized as the first and most prominent aviation law firm in the United States. The firm has been the leading plaintiff legal counsel on thousands of aviation cases, including major ones such as the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pan Am Lockerbie Flight 103, Korean Airlines Flight 007, American Airlines Flight 587, and many cases of small private and commercial crashes. Its ranks include airplane and helicopter pilots, engineers and other technical experts. Kreindler has offices in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles, CA. For more information, contact Mr. Rose in New York at 212- 687-8181 or Mr. Fraenkel in Los Angeles at 213-622-6469.

    * Link to Complaint:
    http://www.kreindler.com/news/pdf/complaint_alaska.pdf

  401. For Tracy regarding your comment about union workers reporting damages. You don’t know how wrong you are. It’s been my experience that “dirty” employees are everywhere. They don’t report things like this everytime it happens. Trust me on this. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve seen aircraft come in with damages that “mysteriously” appeared. In defense of non-union contract companies, I have to say many times they take more pride in their work than the union employees that make the big bucks. What caused the employee who hit the plane not to report it? Who knows, but it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he wasn’t a union employee.

  402. Wow, cool site.. I am have a built a url and need to theme it based on data ntfs recovery.My brother told me blogs require Linux skills? How true is this statement?. Thanks again, HARLAN

  403. I sympathize with your ordeal, as anyone would in your situation, but as far as the morons cutting down Alaska…I am not dissing this guy in his story in any way….and most of the idiots that are, are most likely from the lower 48, so stay wherever you are, we don’t want you in Alaska anyway…the last time I checked…there are aircraft disasters all over the world numbnuts….

  404. Gerard Baisch Reply to Gerard

    Like many I am amazed how nasty some people can be. I fly alot and even though I love it, I would have the crap scared out of me if I went through what you did. Glad you and the rest of the passengers and crew made it out alive. For those MD80 bashers, its funny how everyone has favorites. I Usually fly Southwest and the 737 but when WN is not flying where I want to go I try and fly in an MD80 or MD90 everytime. Its a great jet and I feel much more comfortable then a 737. The MD80 is quiet and smooth. Its main flaw is breaks are not quite strong enough for size of the jet. Other then that it is a great jet in my opinion

  405. I honestly find that nothing compared to the flight I was on. Air Transat flight 236. Torobto to Lisbon. Our Airbus A330-243 ran out of fuel at 36,000 feet over the atlantic ocean and then gliding for 19 minutes wondering when (not IF but when) the plane is going to ditch into the ocean in a darkned plane at who knows what speed. Fortunaty the pilot was able to land at an airforce base in the Azores. The pilot literally glided the plane in and when we hit the tarmack the wheels burst into flames. I think your little 30 minute situation about a hole in a plane is nothing compared to what I and 293 other passengers went though.

  406. Hi Jeremy,
    Glad to hear you are ok. As for the other people that would like to belittle this incident or have nothing nice to say: why do you bother responding? Nobody cares what you have to say. If you can’t be nice, don’t write.

  407. Geez, these responders are BRUTAL, Bet they ALL wear brown pants……

  408. A week ago I passed up an oppurtunity to get 2 round trip tickets for giving up my seat on an AKair flight… didn’t even have anywhere I had to be.

    Sweet blog.

  409. Good on you Jeremy for surviving to tell the tale. However, it is obvious your compatriots are a bunch of whinging, not-picking, anal retentive WANKERS.
    Have a great “rest of your life”.

  410. I like your site.
    Blogs with comments windows that you have to click to open keep the dialogue under wraps. Blogs like this one which string comments out in the open are much more proactive about sparking dialogue.

  411. That must have been a scary flight. I travel all the time from Sea-Tac to Anchorage all the time on Alaska Airlines and on the MD-80’s.. I hope that does’nt happen to me like it did to you. I’m glad even though I don’t know you that everything turned out ok..

  412. Well i will never forget that flight as I to was on that flight and it was terrifying because i was next to the hole myself and i still dont think the free ticket vouchers were enough to acomidate the terible happenings that happened that day. One question though are you the people who are suing alaska.

  413. Would not fly Alaska for the world. This company has a long history of cutting corner. Just check what happens on the crash of flight 261. Lots of people who run that company should be in jail !

  414. Paul Landelle Reply to Paul

    Congratulations for your self control and the analysis of the situation. However the fact that the baggage handler was not unionized has nothing to do with this professional mistake;Too many a times baggage handlers do damage aircrafts with trucks or baggage belts and do not report it because they know what the sanction is: Out. During the training they are told millions times to report it but human beings…
    Now what about the copilot and his pre flight ground check?? He should have noticed that !

  415. What do you do, when your are on a flight, and there are some strong turbulance?
    I personally look at the hostesses faces!!
    If they look calm i feel a bit reassured

  416. ken faught Reply to ken

    Alaska airlines is a once good airline now spiraling into third world status. I am trying to retrieve some checked baggage and the employees are telling me lie after lie about its location and when they intend to actually forward it.

    Now it is clear some twit somewhere in the system is deliberately witholding the bag in order to annoy me.

  417. Two more MD-80’s with smoke filled cabins within the last 3 months. Do more people have to get killed before Alaska finally gets the balls to ground these wretched planes? Eventually, if they keep flying these 15-20 year old junk planes…folks are going to die!

    I feel vindicated for complaining about these suck-ass aircraft.

  418. The “burning smell” came from the oxygen generators that are mounted in the overhead consoles and ignite when the oxygen masks are deployed.
    This is how the O2 system works in an MD-80 and occurs anytime the Pax O2 masks drop in these planes.
    MTB

  419. The service ceiling of an MD-80 is 37,000 feet.

    The reason non union employees is a factor here is because a few months prior to this incident AAL fired all their union bag handlers and replaced them with contract employees from and outside company.
    Incidentally their mishandled bag statistics went from lowest in the industry to near the top with this move.
    AAL also recently gave their pilots a 27% pay cut for no reason.
    You get what you pay for in this industry.

    MTB

  420. Alaska’s firing of union employees to save a few bucks by hiring unqualified replacements is the reason for this accident. The quest for the almighty dollar by upper management has already cost lives. Remember flight 261 and lack of grease on a jack screw. How much money did they save and at what cost? You would think they would learn. Instead of trying to find productive ways to cut costs, they make unsound business decisions that will cost us all in the long run, both in ticket prices and safety. All the way giving themselves record pay raise and bonuses. That is the real reason behind your high ticket prices. That and their failure to hedge fuel costs. Inexpensive tickets are one thing, but you don’t want anyone to compromise on the cost of safety. You need the most qualified mechanics, pilots, etc. A doctor can kill one person if they make a mistake…a pilot can kill many. Don’t you want the best you can get sitting on the flight deck? One wrong turn of the wrench can mean the same thing. You get what you pay for. Tell Alaska you want the best folks available…they are worth the cost! Tell Alaska management to stop raking so much money off the top, compromiseing your saftey, raising your ticket prices and cutting the pay of hard working employees. The flying public and the hard working folks deserve better.

  421. BAERENT R. STRANDBERG Reply to BAERENT

    GOTTA STORY THAT WILL TOP EVERYBODYS; MY GRANDFATHER DAD AND UNCLES ALONG WITH ANOTHER INVESTOR A MR. DON GOODMAN WERE THE ORGINATORS OF ALASKA AIRLINES WHICH WAS ORIGINALL NAMED STAR AIRLINES; IT WAS A SUBSIDUARY OF STRANDBERG MINES INC. WE OBTAINED A VERY LUCRITIVE MAIL CONTRACT AND IN 1942 HAD IT SOLD OUT FROM UNDER US BY OUR ATTORNEY MR. WARREN CUDDY; HE USED PROCEDES TO START FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF ANCHORAGE WHICH IS STILL OPERATING TODAY; ALASKA’S TITLE IS DEFECTIVE AND FED AVIATION REGIONAL COUNSEL HAS ORDERED OUR FAMILY TO CURE THE TITLE; CASE IS JUST ABOUT READY TO BREAK OPEN

  422. Jack Merril Reply to Jack

    Geez- anyone who hasn’t been in a plane crash would think that stuff was lightweight. As one who has had to go down the slides into the ocean at fa’aa, I can tell you that flight mishaps are all very serious to anyone who’s been through it. Despite Hawaiian flight 481 (the fa’aa, tahiti flight I was on that overran the runway) had no serious injuries, crew members were on medical leave for up to two years, the pilot committed suicide shortly thereafter and several passengers and crew sufferred many characteristics of post traumatic stress disorder. I’ve actually been involved with some research after the fact and many of the passengers and crew have since had trouble with parts of life in general and many are now divorced. Whether any of this was a product of the accident or just life in general is hard to tell, but all of it leads one to believe that even though everyone walks away from an airline mishap unscathed, air travel by nature creates more than a normal amount of anxiety in a large number of people and so seems to have a lasting impact on a lot of people. I for one still fly without anxiety medication, but certainly my life has been drastically changed in a negative way since then as a direct result of the incident. This has been documented by licensed professionals working for both myself and for the aviation insurance underwriters.

    Anyhow- anyone trying to sell you short on the immediacy of the terror of an airline mishap just doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.

  423. Today January 06, 2007, some friends that where here in Vancouver for hollidays went back home (Mexico) and we just learned they had a similar experience, 6 hours later, the girls cant recover and are still crying, The worse part is that my mom and the rest of my family are leaving tommorrow and they are also traveling with Alaska, so we are having sencond thoughts about this airline. What do you think?

  424. Not a Fan Of AK Airlines Reply to Not

    Jeremy –

    I stumbled across this post and wanted to share this little nugget… The last two times I’ve taken an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Chicago there were near misses at O’Hare. Both times we were literally 2 seconds from landing, at best 20 feet from touch down and the planes(both) had to immediately pull up and circle around again. I hate to lay this all on Alaska Air, as I’m sure the traffic control at OHare was just as (if not more) responsible. I thought the first time was a fluke, the second time has convinced me to never take that flight again no matter the cost. Also, Alaska Airlines ‘leases’ the American Air ticket counter at OHare and the part-time Alaska Airlines clerks are total jerks, the counter is only open 1 1/2 hours before the flight so don’t ever try to check in early and hang out, you’ll get stuck on the curb.

  425. Me impresiona saber el autocontrol que tuviste durante la descompresión así como la idea de tomar las fotos; soy estudiante para tripulante de cabina y lo que tú viviste es para lo que nos preparan. Me alegra saber que todo salió bien. Gracias por publicarlo.

  426. Usefull information and all is good arranged. glucometer

  427. Thank god your still alive buddy. Hope this does not effect your over all pucker factor.

  428. nestaraj sa Reply to nestaraj

    I would never fly with Alasaka Airlines they let 88 people dye. Just read about the Alaska Airlines flight 261

  429. studentpilotAK Reply to studentpilotAK

    Herrmans, glad to see your post about the incident. I’m also glad that Alaska Airlines has retired it’s outdated MD-80s. High-Five for all photos.

    P.S. To all ye nit-pickers about the phones: Cell phones have no effect on an airplane whatsoever, the flight crew tells you to turn them off, not because of safety reasons, but because there is no point in having them on, they don’t pick up signals, or send signals. In some flights (below the clouds) some cell phones do work. Just an FYI…

  430. Came by this kinda late, I guess, but glad you’re ok. My sympathies to whoever does your laundry.

    Personally, I quit trusting the damned things when they took the propellers off. ;^)

    My father owned an airplane before he owned a car. Also a former business partner of Paul Mantz, a test pilot for Boeing, a builder of clip-wing pylon racers, who had his own aircraft maintenance business, I guess you could say I grew up “around” planes, anyway.

    I had logged nearly 100,000 commercial passenger miles before I reached my 11th birthday, and later spent 18 years working in the aerospace industry. As a consultant to General Electric I helped them develop manufacturing methods used on some of their engines. They were pleased enough with my work, they hired me to teach some of this to their people at the re-building facility in Ontario, Ca., and later to some of their customers like Delta, Lufthansa, Pakistan Int’l Airlines, and a few others around the world.

    No CAPT X, I am not a pilot. I have so far managed to “steal” maybe 4-5 hours of stick time, thru various means, like “Gee whiz! That sure looks hard!”, or “Is there a reason the left wing has been down about 8 inches the last 30 minutes?” and when all these failed, I simply begged. I guess that just doesn’t compare with the experience, or the thrill, you get trolling blogs, belittling others.

    I do feel a bit cheated though on another matter. In 50 years of being in airplanes, I’ve yet to ride in one where they provided altimeters at each seat (GG must must have an uncle in baggage handling). Besides, they use the same size styrofoam cup to pick you up whether you fall from 29,000 or 30,000 feet. (Jesus some people need a life away from their keyboard!)

    That said, hardly anything compares to the terror you feel, as a passenger, when something goes wrong in the air. And yes, “a little knowledge is dangerous”. Having additional skills or experience only makes the helplessness seem worse, because you can’t do much with it, as a passenger.

    I do know a bit about how airplanes are put together, though, and for all the people who posted the Alaska commercials/apologies I gotta say, it changes nothing. Because all the certifications, inspections, maintenance programs, and life cycle studies… it’s all just paperwork, and none of it can prevent some idiot backing into the plane, quietly saying, “Oops.” and driving away.

    To quote my father,
    “You can design anything to be idiot proof; but nobody can design anything jack-ass proof.”

  431. That happend to me once. I was on a MD-80 from Rehjavik to London and we were about 30 minutes from The coast of Ireland and the maskes came down after a terrible Boom. This all happened in the middle of the night when it was apparently raining outside at the time and We Leveled off in the clouds i guess so it got really cold in the plane for the next 40 minutes to Glasgow were we would have an emergency landing.

  432. Because there is a KNOWN FLAW of the jack screw on DC 9’s and MD 80’s don’t fly on these aircraft.

  433. Jeremy, I would probablby have crapped my shorts at least a couple of times in your situation. I really feel bad at how ignorant some people can be. After saying that I know that there are people that would love to lead a witch hunt against Alaska Airlines. I don’t profess to know much about planes, baggage handling etc. As an employer, I realize how diffcult it is to find quality staff, especially where I live in the Province of Alberta. I also know that people are human, and are prone to mishaps. If someone unknowingly hit the plane (which I really doubt) then one has to presume that no one was the wiser and the plane was alowwed to take off. If the baggage handler had known he had hit the plane, then he is a fool for not telling anyone. It says something about the caliber of the work force today and the ltotal lack of ethical honesty and labour pool that we have to choose from. Not all of this is upper managements fault. No large business can operate without a labour force and the pickings are getting slim. Don’t even get me started on unions – I’m a contractor that has deal directly with unions and let me tell you, I’ve never seen anyone cost so much money and do so little while complaining the most about the job. This country was not built by unions, it was built by people who weren’t afraid to break a sweat once in a while. Saying that, with the low fares that we as the public are demanding and the nickel and diming that we do, you are going to get what you pay for. Most of the time things are okay, but every once in while things really go haywire. Which brings me to me last point. People will fail, mechanical things fail, and if you think that is ever going to change, you are wrong. Make every day count and make sure evry day above ground is a good one. I’ve got to go now and book some flights with Alsaka Airlines!

  434. Why are the cabin crew not using PBE’s (Personal Breathing Equipment) if it was a De-Pressurisation?

  435. see it’s very define,your one of a kin. Piet Nirvana.

  436. oh,when you took my arm, that’s when we fell apar. Joey Hadassah.

  437. This has got to the most comments I have ever come accross.
    Not to mention the massive number of jerks leaving comments, weird to see you didn’t take the bait and bite back.
    All the best

  438. Hi
    Interesting blog- wow u are so lucky. I bet you this experience has changed your life.
    The best thing we can all do is not fly on airlines like Alaska. Budget and airlines do not mix. THis is not the first incident this airline has had and it wont be the last. I fly Qantas – they are more expensive but I would rather pay for a few bucks more for an airline who respect the need to service its aircraft properly ala the cork screw fiasco, which killed 83 people!!!

  439. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts.
    You have a great Blog!!! I just added you to my Google News Reader.
    Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Keep up the good work.

  440. Can I ask why you are the only one wearing a mask?? and why you would be standing in the aisle during this emergency??
    I have been flight crew for 10 years and can Definitely tell you from experience that during a rapid decompression and descent (especially from 30,000 to 10,000 ft) you cannot be standing in the aisle and neither would the cabin crew.
    I do not take away that this incident happened but I know that your photo is totally staged and happened after the emergency was over, hence the reason nobody else has masks on or is even remotely panic stricken. Its sad that people like you, make this all about you and make mountains out of mole hills. Yes I have been in a decompression and following the SEPs (standard emergency procedures) looks nothing like your photos, what REALLY happens (if it is a rapid decompression like he tells) is that the air mists like a fog and yes you CAN still breath but you certainly cant move out your seat and dropping so fast you would be either in the brace position or clinging on….these are pictures taken way after the incident and the picture of Jeremy standing would have been taken after landing because a true emergency of this description would not allow passengers up and about till then…..this would be a mayday call more than likely. If he is up and about during the flight, then it certainly could not be of the magnitude in which he has described it…..would be more of a pressure leak and the masks have automatically deployed because of a drop in pressure but it would not have been the big emergency he has described. Nice publicity for you though. but next time try the truth because the pictures do not match your statement.

  441. Man, I’m sure glad you weren’t on the Reeve Electra flight from Adak to ANC years ago, the one where the prop came off one engin;e, disabled the one next to it, severed the flight controls and caused what the pilot described to Anchorage Center as “a bit of a problem.” After a stressful go-around using the autopilot to fly an airplane which had only one engine responding to throttle changes (two others were stuck in cruise configuration). , the second approach was fast and successful. Without brakes, or steering, the plane rolled to the side of the runway late during the landing rollout.

    Like your flight, there were no injuries. I never heard anyone associated with that incident complain about mechanical problems, maintenance, union or non-union pilots, crew, maintenance or ground personnel.

    Many years ago, a Western Airlines 747 pilot told me the same thing others have said, “complex equipment breaks.” Get a few more hours as a pilot before you go off firing from the hip, OK?

    Reports like yours are what make the Internet a place of public clamor, not carefully considered information. I don’t see where this writeup made the world a better place, do you?

  442. Horrible isn’t it? As a frequent flyer, I’ve been through a few airplane accidents. Few things in life can shake you more, all you can do is be glad you could walk away from it.

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  444. Yuri Nebraezha Reply to Yuri

    I’m amazed at all the tough guys reflecting (I’d hate to be as presumptuous as to use embellishing) on their superb bravery from behind the safety and anonymity of a keyboard. Ha-ha. It’s unbelievable that so many people seem to think dropping 20,000 feet in a plane in a matter of seconds would barely be noticed. I’m sure all who have not had that experience have practiced visualization for hours a day, so they’ll be perfectly prepared not to feel a bit of fear and not empty their bladder on the sweet old lady next to them, whom they have a death hold on. Geez. Yawn…Snore….

  445. Wheteher this unfortunate event took place as exactly told, or not at all, I’m still somewhat appalled by the insults of the very brave souls who seem to pooh-pooh the experience of falling 20,000 feet in a plane in a matter of seconds. I’m so proud of the imaginations, delusional bravery, and embellishments of those who would probably be the first to wet themselves and put a death grip hold on some guy who’s trying to think and prepare for the worst. Just the thought of having adrenaline pumping through me faster than blood and the beating this coward is going to get if he didn’t get it together fast – has me laughing at all the insults the author took when he, in fact, did a tremendous job.

  446. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or sthiomeng. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

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