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Full Upright and Locked Position: Not-So-Comfortable Truths about Air Travel Today Hardcover – June 10, 2013

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Full Upright and Locked Position: Not-So-Comfortable Truths about Air Travel Today + Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers, and Reflections + Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (June 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081107
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Aviation consultant Gerchick (former chief counsel of the FAA) has crafted a user-­friendly, nuts-and-bolts survey of contemporary commercial air travel. From the revelation of our new flight-related services purchasing ­experience—whereby airlines no longer sell customers a flight but a whole litany of separate items, such as seat assignments, drinks, snacks, legroom, etc.—Gerchick proceeds to safety topics (older jets, pilot training), costs (fares, fees, and other games), and in-flight illnesses (blood clots! SARS!). In discussing the unmitigated dread of being trapped on a runway-parked aircraft for hours, he covers high-profile and hair-raising events that resulted in regulatory action and a passenger bill of rights. One can quibble with some of Gerchick’s conclusions (anonymous quotes seem cherry-picked to confirm the author’s points) and wonder about the overt, as in circa 1970, sexism in the cockpit he describes, but it’s hard not to nod your head in agreement with his overall picture of the flailing industry. We all hate to fly these days; Gerchick shows us just how valid that negative reaction is. --Colleen Mondor


“Anyone who wonders why they are always in the last boarding group—regardless of seat assignment—should read Full Upright and Locked Position.” (Patricia Harris - Boston Globe)

“Mark Gerchick demonstrates a comprehensive grasp of the aviation system: economics, safety, politics, and the passenger experience. His grasp of aviation safety (i.e., what should you worry about?) is especially compelling. Any air traveler will find Full Upright and Locked Position lively, interesting, and informative reading.” (Carol J. Carmody, former vice-chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB))

“I fully expect that some day soon I’ll be on a flight where every passenger is reading the same book: Full Upright and Locked Position. It won’t make the plane seem any less cramped, or the pricing or schedule policies any less maddening, or the security any easier to deal with. But Mark Gerchick’s clarity, knowledge, and humor will give everyone a better sense of how American air travel became such a joyless (though safe) ordeal, and what hope there is ahead.” (James Fallows, author of China Airborne and national correspondent for The Atlantic)

“Intriguing… Resonant… a narrative that is part lifting of the veil and part condemnation of commercial airlines’ loss of soul.” (Christine Thomas - Miami Herald)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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The author is clearly witty and writes well.
This book should be read by anyone who travels by air on a regular basis, or works in any facet of the airline industry.
Al B.
I think the perfect adjunct to this book is the latest version of "Ask the pilot" Get both.
Ken Bates

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Mark Gerchick's goal in writing this book is to explain why air travel is so frustrating these days. You already know that it is maddening. He concedes that you may not like the explanations or agree with them, but at least knowing why airlines, airports, and the federal government do what they do may take some of the sheer aggravation out of flying.

I'm not sure he's right about that, but he's done a good job of spelling out what's behind some of the infuriating aspects of air travel. If you've done a lot of traveling or have read about the industry over the years, perhaps by following columnists such as the Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney or salon's Patrick Smith (Ask the Pilot), you probably know most of the explanations already. There's still enough that you probably don't know to make the book a valuable read, though. For instance, Gerchick explains in gory detail why the fares for every seat on the plane are different and why the cheapest fares require stayovers and plane changes.

He also addresses the questions of hygiene on planes, the water supply, the air supply, how often planes are serviced, the frequent flier mile system, airport security, and more. He talks about airports and highlights some of the more successful airport designs, such as T2 at San Francsisco International, which creates a calming atmosphere. As much as I appreciate that as a passenger, it turns out that calm, unstressed passengers tend to spend more money in the airport than stressed passengers.

For my money, these two books are a little better than Full Upright and Locked Position --

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark Gerchick's new book "Full Upright and Locked Position", is an insider's look at the airline industry in the past ten or so years. A lawyer, Gerchick has worked as counsel for both the FAA and the DOT. Now he's an consultant to airlines which are struggling to stay ahead of the economic and legal and safety problems which have plagued the airline industry. Mark Gerchick makes reference to another recent book - by pilot Patrick Smith - who looks at the industry from a slightly different point-of-view. Both books are very good and give the interested reader a view from both the cockpit (excuse me, "flight deck") and the business end of flying. Smith's book is a more passionate, personal book while Gerchick's is more measured emotionally.

I'm a former travel agent and probably a bit more "into" the business end of the airline industry than most readers. When Gerchick writes about fare manipulation by smart flyers and talks about "hidden cities" and buying two cheap round-trip tickets and throwing away half of each, I "get" what he's talking about. Hell, in my career twenty years ago, I was considered the "queen of point-afters" by my clients. But after the airlines quit paying commission to travel agents, the business model of travel agents using airlines as a source of income cratered and was hurt further by the internet and travelers becoming their OWN travel agents. That was in the mid-1990's and the airline business never looked back. Perhaps they should have, but that's for another book. Gerchick's book is about the years post-2000

Many people think the airlines tales-of-woe began post 9/11, but they really began a bit earlier. The economic downturn beginning in the early 2000's was exacerbated by the attacks of September 11th.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First, I read this on a long flight. That's a great place to contemplate the revelations in this book. As a long-time commercial pilot, I knew those facts about the science of flying that the author reveals (which are valuable for all) - but the rest of the revelations were nothing short of fascinating. Just the discussion about the passenger environment inside the aircraft today (and tomorrow) is worth the cost of the book. So many interesting and important things about aviation are revealed in this book that you should read it just to understand how you are managed, priced, herded, treated - and the way in which this is likely to play out in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By eyeguy on September 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book to complement my purchases of "Cockpit Confidential" and "Attention All Passengers".

After seeing the writer's respected credentials, I was expecting a detailed perspective from both sides of the table regarding the issues surrounding airline service and customer's expectations in the flying experience. Sadly, I was somewhat disappointed shortly after beginning my read.

Mark does bring up various issues about the short-comings of passenger travel but I quickly began to feel that the tone of the book was less than objective and decidedly anti-industry. Perhaps this is a natural extension coming from his legal background. There are certainly many issues surrounding the passenger experience that could be improved but the blame seems to be pointed squarely at industry's never ceasing desire to stay on the right side of the bottom line.

I was really looking for a balanced discussion respecting the industry's challenges dealing with intense competition, deregulation, sky-rocketing input costs of labour and fuel, and traveller's expectations of first-class service for third class prices. Instead, I was left feeling that consumers are victims and bear no blame for the current state of affairs. A detailed in-depth interview with industry insiders on the other side of the table would have done wonders in helping to explain why the flying experience has evolved to the state we are experiencing today. If Mark had conducted such background work with CEO's and senior management, (and I'm assuming he had), they weren't give much of a fair voice to allow a reader to respect what challenges industry has to deal with.
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