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Attention All Passengers: The Airlines' Dangerous Descent---and How to Reclaim Our Skies Hardcover – June 26, 2012

40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A damning indictment of the airline industry, and the lax oversight and economic and political pressures that are jeopardizing the safety of everyone who flies.” (Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, Retired Airline Pilot, consultant, speaker, CBS News Aviation and Safety Expert, And Author of Making a Difference and Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters)

“This book is the broadest consistent page-turner I’ve read on airlines, including our own.” (Ralph Nader, co-author with Wesley J. Smith of Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety)

“…well-researched narrative…McGee’s exploration of this lack of accountability is intriguing…Informative” (Kirkus Reviews)

“McGee is making a serious and important argument, and he ends with a series of suggestions...that reflect both insider knowledge and common sense.” (Boston Globe)

Attention All Passengers deserves to be heeded for its discussion of airline safety. Mr. McGee addresses areas of serious concern that have largely remained off the radar screen.” (Wall Street Journal)

“[A] provocative new book… McGee makes a compelling argument that minor annoyances such as baggage fees and shrinking seats are symptoms of deeper problems that are eroding the bottom line and, eventually, the safety of passengers.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“This eye-opening book should be required reading for anyone who flies, as well as airline employees and government officials.” (Chicago Tribune)

From the Back Cover

Award-winning journalist and leading consumer advocate William J. McGee offers a shocking, essential exposé that reveals the real state of the "friendly skies."

From outsourced call centers in India to the Alabama location where all lost baggage ends up, William J. McGee crisscrossed the country and traveled around the globe immersing himself deep into the world of commercial airlines. And what he found was shocking.

McGee interviewed countless industry insiders—pilots, TSA security screeners, FAA inspectors, legislators, the CEOs of the major carriers, and even Ralph Nader and Steven Slater, the disgruntled flight attendant who famously jettisoned a JetBlue flight. Here he reveals how airline executives are cutting costs in "a mad race to the bottom" by delegating flights to second-tier regional airlines and outsourcing critical aircraft maintenance and repairs to unlicensed "mechanics" in China, Singapore, Mexico, and El Salvador. And while the U.S. airlines have raked in tens of billions of dollars for checked baggage alone in recent years, our skies (and our airports) are not getting any safer. What's more, McGee explains how both political parties and all branches of the U.S. government have conspired to place corporate interests above the interests of consumers, workers, the nation's economy, and even the planet itself. Attention All Passengers will change the way you view the airline industry and make you think twice the next time you see the fasten seat belts sign.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062088378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062088376
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,058,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
William J. McGee used to love to travel by air. Now he doesn't. I know how he feels. Like McGee, I've been fascinated with aviation since childhood and made it my career. For years, any time I could spend in an airport was fine by me. Now I avoid them. Once you're out of the airport and onto the plane, it's no better. Full flights, suspicious flight crews, cranky passengers, fewer amenities, higher prices. McGee says it doesn't have to be this way.

In Attention All Passengers, McGee explains how things work behind the scenes in aviation in a clear manner. He's obviously troubled by the way that a combination of deregulation and heightened security has turned the pleasure of air travel into an unpleasant slog.

McGee doesn't dispute that air travel is now safer than it ever has been, but he also observes that the margins of safety built into every aspect of aviation have been eroded to a dangerous extent by financial need and greed. At the top of his danger list is the outsourcing of aircraft maintenance. The repairs, maintenance, and inspections that used to take place in the United States, are now happening in China and El Salvador and elsewhere, where the standards may or may not be equivalent to our own. Even where the training and licensing are up to standard, there's another menace - counterfeit parts. Parts can be expensive and where the inspections are lax or nonexistent, rebuilt or counterfeit parts can easily be substituted for new parts.

McGee identifies deregulation as a mixed bag -- it brought ticket prices down but created more competition. That worked until the drop off of passengers after 9/11 and the astronomical expense of increased security measures.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By nickgali on July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A remarkable read. "Attention" manages to avoid cheap sensationalism, instead unfolding like the smart person's Whodunit where the stakes, the passengers. McGee's reporter's eye and a storyteller's flair conspire to soberly grab you by the lapels and insist you pay attention, guiding you layer by layer, turn by turn through the labyrinthian airline industry, what it was, what it's become and, most importantly, how it can be fixed - which, as the author makes clear, is an urgent priority.

Mr. McGee's book on flying is essential reading for anyone that leaves the ground. Wow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Carolla on March 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The author, William J.McGee is a veteran airline professional and writer about the industry. If one is familiar with the industry as a professional or educated observer this book contains nothing new. If you think flying in the US these days is peachy keen, you won't like this book. There is no doubt about two things: First, like many of us professionals who worked in or around the industry prior to deregulation, he regards deregulation as having been disasterous for customer service and the health of the US "system of systems" of local service carriers and of "trunk carriers." Regulation ensured competition on most routes; prevented predatory fare wars; ensured safety standards; and made competition based on levels and types of customer service. He makes a good case that the US regulated airline system provided a public utility - serving the entire country - that served the needs of travelers who needed - for speed, urgency or business - to pay a premium fare above that of a bus, train (non-existent for a large part after 1971)or private automobile. Second, McGhee casts light on serious safety issues including: outsourcing of over 50% of US airline traffic to "regional airlines" employing lesser trained and paid pilots and small uncomfortable aircraft; outsourcing reservations - with the passenger being discouraged from telephone contact to unknowledgable foreign call centers; outsourcing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) to El Salvador and China beyond effective FAA supervision; and unsafe cost-cutting on the part of the airlines.Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rick on June 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There is one thing that nearly every American can agree on: Flying is a disagreeable experience. To no fault of the good, honest everyday airline workforce. Rather, it's the philosophy behind the whole darn industry. And that's a shame. Because air travel should--and could--be a way for America to excel and distinguish ourselves. We could still be the best in the world at this. Instead we've devolved. We cut corners. We focus on the cheap and profitable way to conduct business. Well, good on William McGee for laying out exactly what's wrong, and offering a lucid and practical vision for the future.

I love to travel and see our incredible country. And I would do it so much more...if it weren't the most disheartening experience. From the ticket purchase to the delays/cancellations to the moment when I see that my $500 has bought a seat that I'm embarrassed to escort my wife into. Let's all rally around ATTENTION ALL PASSENGERS.
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