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

3.9 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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: #1,309,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
A remarkable read. "Attention" manages to avoid cheap sensationalism, instead unfolding like the smart person's Whodunit where the stakes are...us, 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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A nerve-wracking read. As a frequent flyer, I can attest to the author's accuracy in describing some of the conditions passengers put up with, and the general deterioration in air travel. Flying stopped being "fun" a long time ago.
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It's hard to love something that scares the life's blood out of me, but this book is just that important. The truth not only hurts, it is terrifying. When we get on an airplane, we know NOTHING about it. Most people don't even understand why the airplane is able to fly, so the facts Mr McGee presents are stunning. We don't know anything about the planes' maintenance, relative cleanliness, the training of the pilots and the competence of the air traffic controllers. We only want to know what goes wrong when someone we love is involved in a crash. Other than than that," it's not going to happen to me."
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Format: Hardcover
This book covers many aspects of air travel from costs to customer service and is written so the average consumer can understand the situation.
As a frequent flyer to visit children and grandchildren in other countries I especially appreciate William McGee confronting airline safety.
Until the airlines and US government address the safety situation, repeat of airline news is necessary to keep the dialog going.
I recommend this book to anyone who gets on a plane.
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