Dear Aeroflot: YOU SUCK!

I knew that things weren’t all that good for gays and lesbians in Russia, but I didn’t know it was this bad.  In 2011, a gay male flight attendant started a GLBT organization for Aeroflot in response to the denigration of gays and lesbians in Russia, as well as at Aeroflot.

What did Aeroflot do in response?  They gave the man an ultimatum: Either get married to a woman, or lose your job.

What the frick, Aeroflot?

I know that I’m not in the Russian Federation, and honestly will probably never fly Aeroflot.  But I also know that Aeroflot is part of the SkyTeam Alliance.  Hey Delta, Air France/KLM?  Do you want to be associated with these people?  If you want to keep your business with the GLBT community in the United States and Europe, how about you dissolve your partnership with Aeroflot?  I know that I’m personally more apt to work with companies that support GLBT causes, and shun companies that either support or turn a blind eye to the abuse of minorities.

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Air France/KLM: Profits & Convenience Before People

This is the kind of thing that really pisses me off.  Every day we get on airplanes, and we have professionals around us for our safety.  Flight Attendants aren’t there to serve you beer and soda; they are there for your SAFETY.  Don’t think so?  Listen to cabin crew talk about some of the incidents and accidents they have been in; it will make your skin crawl.  So why would an airline put their own people at safety?  It makes no sense.

What I’m talking about is the decision by KLM (parent company is Air France/KLM; one of the largest airline companies in the world) and how they have told their gay employees that they can NOT skip out of going to Iran.  Previously KLM has allowed female employees to avoid working on flights to Iran, because “unpleasant things happened to them there”.  Excuse me?  Yes, women face discrimination throughout the entire Middle East.  But HELLO!  When gay people are found in Iran, they are PUBLICLY HANGED.  Don’t believe me?  Click here.  It’s disgusting.  Hell, Iran sentenced one reporter for a PICTURE of their leader being printed that made Ahmadinejad appear to be gay.

KLM, put your PEOPLE before your profits and convenience.  If you don’t, you will have your own employees blood on your hands!

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I know I don’t run an airline…

…and I don’t know all of the regulations that exist country to country about flight termination, carrying within another country, etc.  I do know how it works here in the United States, though.  A foreign carrier can fly between two US destinations, but they cannot pick up anyone at the first destination to take to the second (ie. British Airways can fly a plane London to NYC, drop of half of their passengers, then take the other half on to Los Angeles and let them off).  To do otherwise would be to run afoul of United States airline ownership laws.

But here’s the thing.  We all know that there are emergencies that come up.  And we all know that these issues have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  The volcano that erupted in Iceland provides such an emergency.  So how should we deal with it?  Or rather, we KNOW how it is being dealt with – how should it HAVE been dealt with?  I have my own ideas.

First of all, the fact is that NOT all of the airports in Europe have been closed.  Madrid in Spain, and one or two other South European airports have been open a good while.  Now of course Spain is the headquarters of Iberia Airlines.  And Iberia is currently in merger talks with British Airways.  British Airways, of course, is probably the biggest TransAtlantic carrier between London and NYC.  So tell me  why in the HELL did this not get played up?  British Airways has jets parked here in the United States that can’t get home, as do other carriers.  British Airways could pick up those passengers due to come back to Europe, and fly them to Madrid instead of Heathrow.  From there, busses and trains could be pulling passengers to and from London.  Sure, BA doesn’t normally fly say Chicago to Madrid, or LAX to Madrid.  But if they can, and as long as they can coordinate with other carriers on gate use, etc, why the hell not?

Besides cooperation with other carriers, we would have to allow carrying to and from other points.  British Airways has 329 seat and 281 seat 747s in their fleet, with other planes that can make the trip between the US and Spain holding 230 to 272 people.  So have those planes leave wherever they area – say Los Angeles.  If they have 50 open seats, then pick up 50 passengers in New York City or Boston.  Then hoof it over the Atlantic, land in Madrid, and put people on busses or the train to London.  Then pick up stranded people in Madrid – those that have come from London or other major airports, and head back to the United States.  With the global downturn in airlines, I’m SURE that there are available gates that can be used at an open Spanish airport.

We could be moving thousands of people between Europe and the United States right now, with aircraft that are sitting dormant.  And it doesn’t have to be just British Airways – other airlines should be jumping in as well.  Hell, it will create overtime for workers (we would have to utilize pilots and flight attendants only to their statutory limits, but airport workers and temps could definitely use a boost) and put those out of work into jobs – albeit temporary.

So listen up, British Airways, Iberia, American Airlines, KLM, and others.  Life presents challenges.  Get around them.  If we humans didn’t rise to our challenges in the past, we would still be living in caves, only dreaming of one day flying through the blue, ashy filled skies.

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