Trouble in the air & iPad nauseum

Written by .................................................................................................................................................. on 30 March 2011 in Diary
Francesca Preece calls on BA to look after its cabin crew for the sake of the Royal Wedding and their passengers and cringes at politicians with iPads

There’s trouble in the air. It’s round 373 of the cabin vs. big BAD BA chiefs. Jesus may have to postpone his ascension judging by the new strikes hitting airports near you (except London city of course) around Easter.

BA’s Unite-card carrying cabin crew have announced a new set of strikes in their never-ending squabbles with their airline managers after they voted to carry on their flight fight.

The dispute that has lasted what seems like a century or a weekend’s TFL engineering works is far from reaching its final destination. Travellers who are hoping to get away from it all over Easter may as well get that ejector-seat out on the ready just in case the crew kick off and squabble mid-flight over how many free snacks they get on for their plane to Mallorca.

The crew have every right to take union action. I have no dispute, so to speak, of their decision to dispute their working conditions – my working conditions consist of sitting at a desk looking purposeful at bizarre hours and dealing with bizarre people. I wouldn’t for any minute chance swapping into some preened-to-painstaking-perfection hostess’ shoes. (Unless I looked something like those Virgin girls!)- Especially when their public rating is hardly soaring right now.

It’s not all free flights, fresh sheets every night in posh hotels and spotting celebs in first class (Gordon Brown doesn’t count).  Would you fancy standing up all day, serving food through turbulence and being at the every whim of drunks and Londoners?  And then there’s the jet lag, the hours ... it’s not like the movies. I may not know the ins, the outs, the reality of working in a plane but I do recognise the importance of decent working conditions. In Britain, in our developed and civilised society, every worker should have the right to be able to carry out their work without any hiccups on their employers’ part. It is a basic right of every worker. If these workers are still fighting after TWO YEARS, surely there must be a real reason why.

What I can’t understand is why BA just don’t end this now and save us all the misery of a 4-hour round trip from our front door back to the sunny sights of Heathrow, back again to that sink full of plates back home. They have lost £150m already through walkouts. How many more is it going to take for them to listen?

The Royal Wedding is coming up fast on 29 April and these new strikes hit right at the very centre. For a British institution to show a complete disregard for the monarchy by not resolving the strikes and allowing them to fall even possibly on the very day is unacceptable. Think of Willie and Kate – future King and Queen – huddling onto cattle class in a budget airline for their HRH honeymoon. All the tourists or expats who would have used your planes to jet in for the celebrations may not even bother now. This is vital tourism and revenue going down the drain for what seems like a vanity exercise.

But of course, it’s not just Jesus, the staff, and Wills and Kate losing out through all this. What about your customers? Have you forgotten your own motto, ‘to fly to serve’? There hasn’t been much of that lately. There were 22 strikes last year and with more to come, thousands will be out of pocket and luck this Easter and summer.

We have had enough of your no-fly zone. It is time for take-off. Put away your baggage, BA chiefs, and board.

iP-ad nauseum

Just days after passionate iPadders queued for an hour and a day to get their hands on the latest Apple gadget, keen Twitt Kerry McCarthy stepped out with the latest accessory welded to her open palm. The Twitter Tsar made history and even ITN news when she stormed the Commons catwalk with an iPad – the first MP daft enough to do so.

While iPads are useful tools, there is something quite unconvincing about an MP carrying an iPad. I cringe when newsreaders hold them (God bless Kay Burley and her occasional denial of the oversized calculator), yet seeing one of those politicians, who are hardly the epitome of cool, at the best of times, posing with one, something in me says it’s just not right. Labour may tease the Tories for trying to be hip and too cool for school with the no-tie dress code and pastel shades of blue, but getting in on the gadget gig is like a dad dancing, badly, at a wedding. It shouldn’t be seen or heard of.

Poor Kerry looks like a waitress taking someone’s order at a restaurant rather than a serious political heavyweight. Call me old fashioned but I’d rather see the return of paper, pens and notepads. Leave the iPads to the iPad generation, eh?

...That’ll be a bowl of chips please Kerry.

Tags: British airways, IPad, Kerry mccarthy, Royal wedding, Strikes, Trade Unions

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