Airline “Bumping”: Dangerous New Definition

June 5, 2007

Standby passengers used to talk about being “bumped” off a plane. When a flight encounters turbulence, it can give you a “bumpy” ride. But at Hancock Airport last month, it was apparently a baggage cart accident that “bumped” a passenger jet right out of the sky.

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A 12-inch hole in the fuselage that forced a Northwest Airlines flight out of Syracuse to make an emergency landing in Buffalo could have been caused by baggage handlers here, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

The preliminary three-page report does not assess blame or pinpoint the cause of the gash that forced Flight 1411 to make an unscheduled landing May 18 at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

However, the report recites the circumstances surrounding the event and says “the height of the damage on the airplane was approximately the same height as the top of the cab of a baggage cart tug used by contract personnel to load passenger luggage onto the airplane.”

The Syracuse Post-Standard

If that’s what really happened, can’t you just imagine the dialogue between a couple of baggage handlers, driving their cart near the jet?

HANDLER 1: “You feel a bump just then?”

HANDLER 2: “Yeah, you better look at the plane.”

HANDLER 1: “- – – -, man, there’s a big gash in it.”

HANDLER 2: “We gotta tell somebody.”

HANDLER 1: “Not me, I ain’t losin’ my job over this.”

HANDLER 2: “Well, me neither. Think it’ll be all right to fly like that?”

HANDLER 1: “Sure. Foot-wide hole in a plane this big means nothin’. Fighter pilots can land after they get shot up in a war, can’t they?”

HANDLER 2: “Yeah, sure. Okay, you talked me into it. Break time!”