Flying Cheap

Flying Cheap takes on the issues of travel costs and airline safety, examining the phenomenon of low-cost airlines and regional carriers. Frontline looks at how they’ve forever changed competition in the industry. The presence of low-cost travel options has kept fares relatively low for consumers. But is safety being sacrificed for the sake of cheap travel? The investigation begins with a crash in Buffalo, N.Y., involving a Continental flight. After the deadly airline crash of Continental 3407 in Buffalo, NY, Frontline investigates the accident and discovers a dramatically changed airline industry, where regional carriers now account for half of the nation’s daily departures. The rise of the regionals and arrival of low-cost carriers have been a huge boon to consumers, and the industry insists that the skies remain safe. But many insiders are worried that now, 30 years after airline deregulation, the aviation system is being stretched beyond its capacity to deliver service that is both cheap and safe. Finally a documentary that reveals the bottom-feeding by the regional airlines. It’s like a drunk driving the back roads at night. He might go night after night without crashing, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. These regionals simply roll the dice and have a major accident ‘factored in’ (their words). There is a lack of scrutiny of management practices, such as bargaining for employee wage cuts and subsequently receiving million dollar bonuses for saving the company so much money. This cut-throat style of management leads to a race to the bottom. Hire inexperienced workers because you can get them cheap. Plain and simple. Considering the paltry salaries they are paying some of these pilots they are no longer seen as professionals. Just worker-drones who are easily replaced. I’m a pilot and crash on my mom’s living room floor and commute, and make less than $1,000 a month. The quality of air travel has really plummeted, but the worst part is the dive safety has taken as well. As a current employee of the regional airlines, it is sad to say that safety is only a motto and not a doctrine. There are many days when crews are overworked or mismanaged by the company just for that “one more flight” back to their base and one less cancellation on the company’s record. Calling in fatigue is considered “under investigation until proven valid.” Meaning a fatigue call is always scrutinized. It is within companies’ rights to extend your work days into your rest days if they need you. All-in-all the big picture is that regional employees are underappreciated and overworked drones that companies abuse physically and mentally. We wish we had a normal 9-5 work day 5 days a week. As a former regional Flight Officer this documentary nails it on the head pretty much. Low pay makes getting a hotel, let alone eating, hard to do — when you’re making $21K a year. Heck, my two bedroom crash-pad had 8 people living there. The only reason I can even afford to have an online video service and watch this documentary is because I left the industry and found a better career where I could actually survive and make a living. I will only put my family on one or two of the better regionals, other than that I make sure it’s all major airlines we book on. Sometimes saving a buck or two just isn’t worth the risk. Take it from someone who’s been there, this documentary pretty much touches on all the aspects of how aviation travel has gone down the tubes. Next time before you decide to buy the cheapest ticket, think about what the real cost could be (i.e., your life). You get what you pay for, is the bottom line. This is typical Frontline investigation. Good reporting and a scary story on the industry of flight. It is unbelievable that such inexperience is allowed to pilot these aircraft. Frontline does a thorough investigation and it is nice to see that something so many of us use, commercial flights, get a long detailed investigative report. No one major airline comes out untouched when you look at the issue, and the system seems to be one in need of reforms at some level. Not necessarily government intervention, but a way of thinking anew of flying commercially. I hope changes will be made that Frontline made clear weren’t being fixed. This documentary shows that the cheapest isn’t always the safest. It also shows the dark side of deregulation. Anytime the government starts de-regulating anything. I have to ask myself why? They always seem to come back with things like, ‘it’s less costly’, and ‘the government should let the companies regulate themselves’. Well that did not really work well with the housing disaster and the complete collapse of the stock market. Which was also supposed to regulate itself. It’s all about greed and profit for the companies. Excellent documentary. Very informative and a little scary if you fly a lot. If you fly often; you owe it to yourself to watch this. If you fly once a year or every day, if you’re a passenger or an airline/airport employee, and even if you don’t fly but know someone who does, then you will find this documentary worth your time. This documentary served as a real eye-opener for me. Documentary Frontline 2010 NR 54 minutes.

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