Monthly Archives: June 2006

BuzzBomb to Northwest Airlines


This week we award a BuzzBomb to Northwest Airlines.

What’s a BuzzBomb? Well, no, this isn’t the World War II variety.

Rather, it’s our way of spotlighting something in this industry that we find objectionable.

This week we are compelled to award one to Northwest Airlines for the way in which it administered a crucial change in their medical coverage. Essentially the airline only gave employees two weeks in which to “sign up” for the new coverage. While the fact the airline is attempting to consolidate its health coverage is understandable, a small two-week window during which employees are expected to respond is not. Especially when the alternative is NO coverage for the remainder of the year.

I’ll let one of our readers explain:

“Holly: Just when I thought that I had become used to the cynical manner in which NWA management treats their “valued” employees, a new shot to the kidneys was received last week. At present, NWA has three different medical plans that cover their employees–you pick and choose (and pay!) for the one that best suits your needs.

During open enrollment in the late fall, you can change your selection and if you failed to select, the default was the company “standard” coverage. In an attempt to consolidate these plans under one roof, NWA wants to switch to a Blue Cross Anthem plan for all employees–a cost measure. Certainly understandable while in Chapter 11.

However in what has to be the most obnoxious blast at us and our families, NWA has now mandated a two week “enrollment” period which ends June 21. All NWA employees are required to sign up for the “new” medical/dental plan. Failure to do so within the two week window means you go the new default–absolutely NO COVERAGE for the remainder of 2006! Considering the number of employees with severe medical issues for themselves or their family members that require ongoing care and coverage this is simply off the scale.

Now you know that Northwest knows that a certain percentage (read: large!) of people just toss company mail into the trash without reading it or folks may be on leaves, vacation or other absences and will miss this two week period. In yet another effort to slam their employees NWA is willing to trash the medical coverage of entire families in order to save money–for executive bonuses, no doubt–leaving honest, hard-working and long-suffering employees in the lurch. Cruel? Cynical? Calculated? You bet!

Remember, this is the same company that attacked their own credit union and attempted to extort money from their employees via their bank accounts all in the name of “revenue enhancement.” I have served NWA for a quarter of a century with pride and even a certain amount of affection. I have become used to the sucker punches we get from time to time (I duck fast) but this is a new low for NWA management. It shows just how vicious this outfit really can be.”

I agree.

I can easily see how people could have missed the notices, been out of town, whatever. The company should have given employees more time in which to make sure everything was taken care of properly. What was really scary was when we sent out a couple of email notices to friends we know who work at Northwest, and one third told me they didn’t realize this had even taken place.

A BuzzBomb on Northwest. Shame on you.

PlaneBuzz Quiz — What is It?

Okay all you engine experts out there. The first person who can correctly identify this engine — from this picture — gets buckets of notoriety and fame.
Hey, this is a low-cost operation. What more did you expect?

PlaneBusiness Ron Allen Airline Management Award

In 1998 PlaneBusiness Banter awarded the first PlaneBusiness Ron Allen Airline Management Award to…..Ron Allen. Ron was then Chairman and CEO of Delta Air Lines.

We felt that Ron so well embodied those traits that an airline CEO should not possess — that he had been such a detriment, or perhaps impediment, to the financial success and innovative progress of Delta Air Lines while at its helm — that his moniker should grace each successive award.

And just what were our complaints with Ron?

Click here for more.

Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends

Holly HegemanNine years ago I founded PlaneBusiness Banter. I am proud to say that the Banter is now the most widely read weekly financial newsletter in the industry.

Shortly after PBB came on the scene, I also began another online publication — The PlaneBusiness Daily Banter. The Daily Banter went on to become the most accessed daily online aviation information site on the web. Heck, we were “blogging” before anyone had coined the term.

However, in 2001, after it was clear the Internet boom had gone bust, and after we could not make the Daily Banter a profit center through the use of advertising, we reluctantly shut the doors — choosing instead to concentrate our efforts on our subscriber product – PBB.

However, it’s now five years later and things have changed. First, we are now in the final throes of a new revised website. This will provide a new home for our PBB subscribers.

Secondly, as web advertising/sponsorship models have now improved, I thought it was about time we gave everyone else a new place to hang out as well.

Third, I was tired of not being able to comment on what was going on — for days. Sometimes you just want to get out there and mix it up when news hits.

Hence — PlaneBuzz.

For those of you who used to read the Daily Banter faithfully — this won’t be quite the same animal. It will be much of the same information, only in shorter bytes. And I won’t promise I’ll be in here every day. But I do promise it will be worth your time to stop by whenever you can — just to see what we’re up to. And when I say “we”, I mean we. I will not be the only one contributing to the discussion here. You the readers, along with other commentators, will all be a part of making this the best place anywhere for information on the dysfunctional industry we all love.

For those of you who still mourn the passing of the old PlaneBusiness message boards — the new format should give all of us the best of both worlds.

While we are not offering message boards with the new site per se, we are certainly opening up the doors for those of you out there to comment on what we post. And we think this is a good thing.

We’re still in the building stage. So don’t scream and yell just yet as the construction crew continues to build out the place. Okay?

Besides if you yell too loud I just might have a Katrina moment. And trust me, that is not a pretty sight. (Note to those who don’t live in the New Orleans/Mississippi Gulf Coast region — it’s akin to having a really short fuse — brought on by having to endure consistently high levels of frustration in most every aspect of your daily life.)

If you have any comments, suggestions, or you just want to vent — drop us an email. If you have any news of note that you think others need to know — drop us an email too. We’ll be glad to get that news out there. Otherwise, post a comment here.

All for now.

I’m off to work. Still trying to figure out these damn link boxes.