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CNN Today

Will Labor Problems Snarl Air Traffic?

Aired March 2, 2001 - 4:51 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier here we reported the latest on possible strikes involving Delta, United and American Airlines. Well, talking about travel here, the guest we have lined up to talk about alternatives if the strikes do happen, actually got stuck in Atlanta's notorious Friday afternoon traffic. He did get here though, and he joins us now.

Chris McGinnis, director of Travel Skills Group, a consulting firm specializing in the business travel industry. Travel skills I think is what we actually need at this point.

CHRIS MCGINNIS, DIRECTOR, TRAVEL SKILLS GROUP: That is right.

CHEN: Travelers who are looking ahead to spring vacations and seeing these things on the horizon, as it were. What do we do?

MCGINNIS: It's a big mess right now, especially for anybody that's planning travel in the spring. So, what, I don't think that we have a lot of to worry about in terms of March or April. Those are when strikes may happen. But as most people know by now, President Bush has hinted that he will step in and prevent any type of strike. He has to the power to do that. So if we see any type of shutdown, it's probably not going to happen until early June.

CHEN: Let's talk a little bit about some of the promises being made by the airlines, once again, to try to help us out; those passengers who might have troubles.

MCGINNIS: Right.

CHEN: Looking here, it says Delta, according to the "USA Today" today, will realign and spread out its 900 daily departures from Atlanta to reduce taxi times, airport lines and flight delays. And then there's United which plans to notify passengers in advance that their flight has been canceled, and to rebook travelers before they arrive at the airport.

MCGINNIS: Right.

CHEN: Sometimes I wonder if these are promises that can actually be kept. I mean, they can tell you, "We're going to tell you your flight is going to be delayed even before you get to the airport." But you'd have to know what time I was leaving my house, wouldn't you? MCGINNIS: That's right. Well, I think a lot of what we're, a lot of what you just mentioned there are things that came out of the whole customer initiative that are airlines have been trying to improve recently and has very little do with the strike.

But, you know, hopefully, if a strike does happen, they will have these -- these type of situations in place where they can call you ahead of time and let you know. But it is, it's very, very difficult to, first of all, predict that, and then second of all, call thousands of people in a certain amount of time. There are electronic options now that are helping you...

CHEN: Ring you on your beeper or something like that?

MCGINNIS: That's right. Or when you buy your ticket online you can click a button and the airline will automatically ring your beeper or call your house with a recorded message telling you that your flight might be delayed or canceled.

CHEN: But say I happen to have a ticket for the day that the strike on any airline starts. What does the airline owe me, and what do I do about it? I mean, there I am standing at the airport with my bags. What do I do then?

MCGINNIS: Right. OK, well, typically airlines band together when there is a strike. And they will accommodate passengers from a striking airline. So if you had a ticket on Delta, and they went on strike, it's most likely that another airline is going to reaccommodate you.

The problem is, is that you only have a stand-by ticket on that other airline. So you could have to wait, you know, a day at the most or maybe even overnight.

CHEN: And if a bunch of airlines are all having labor problems...

MCGINNIS: That's that's the big worry, and that's why President Bush has said that he's probably not going to let this happen. Because if we have everybody strike at once, no one will be able to be reaccommodated at all. And, as he says, it'll have a very "deleterious" effect on the economy.

CHEN: So now might be the time to look at some other ways to travel instead?

MCGINNIS: It's the perfect opportunity to try another airline or even a low-fare carrier.

CHEN: All right. We will see what happens. Chris McGinnis, Travel Skills Group, to find out if we all have travel skill and can get around in all these messes.

Thanks very much for being with us.

MCGINNIS: Thanks a lot. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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