Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Iceberg, right ahead!

When I first reported on Southwest Airlines' safety inspection violations, I had no idea just what a hornet's nest that would prove to be. First, Southwest grounded some of its planes for which required inspections had not been done. Last week, Delta and American did the same. This week, United has also grounded planes for the same reason.

I have to wonder, is all of this just the tip of a very scary iceberg? The airlines are heavily regulated, so we all assume we're safe when we board a plane. We take for granted that safety inspections and regular maintenance are done. Now it seems that some of the airline maintenance and safety inspection work is no more thorough or exacting as the work your auto mechanic does or the service a local restaurant provides.

Of course, the key difference is that if your auto mechanic has a hangover when he's fixing your car, the worst that will probably happen is that your car will break down on the way home. If your waiter is too indifferent to get your order right, you just have to send it back to the kitchen. But when an airline employee is too lazy or the airline too cheap to pay someone to do required safety inspections, the result might be a plane full of people falling out of the sky.

Let's hope we spotted this iceberg in time.

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