I wonder if it will start impacting traveller and tourism numbers at some point. I think anyone who doesn't really need to be in the US and/or is planning travelling with kids is likely to have some second thoughts at this point.
Recently Canada's girl guides cancelled all trips to the US: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/14/canadian-girl-gui....
I wonder if this is a first step of a large trend yet to develop.
We just moved the whole thing to Paris instead as we had issues with all of the above, including employees that have visited "dangerous" countries.
The thing that pushed everyone over was when our former prime minster was harassed at the border for having been to a meeting in Iran. It says in his passport that he was a former prime minster, but apparently none is safe from the US border guards.
This is all within the rights of America as a sovereign state of course, but it does mean that the call to cancel or limit the visa-free travel agreement that currently allows US citizens to visit the EU without a visa is gaining momentum (tit-for-tat politics).
Jake Appelbaum had a sendoff speech where he covered how his fellow journalists were putting him in grave danger when calling him an "Internet Activist" meanwhile he was publishing in the same paper as they were. He also covered how The Guardian left Julian Assange out to hang, allowed known compromised systems to remain in day to day use, and banned fellow journalists at other news orgs from writing about quite a few papers/topics from the Snowden archives.
I'm not sure what you mean by your comment with respect to what I wrote — I'm not inferring anything. The ESTA visa waiver program allowed for some leeway in granting people who visited certain countries (e.g., Iran, Iraq) access in certain cases. This seems to have included politicians and journalists. I expect that the US government did limit this to accredited journalists.
Personally I agree with those critics who point out that the whole ESTA program is effectively a thinly disguised visa program. It is a shame that it exists in the first place.
But people that come to NYC have a much greater experience. In the past month I met both an Italian who came here for the first time and an Israeli and both of them were so happy to be here.
I think your employer should schedule a trip to NYC for these 70 employees -- they must deserve it!
But here is a real story. I'm American and "member of the tribe" who has been to Israel many times as shown by the passport stamps, speaks Hebrew and I didn't arrive at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to a Turkish Air flight to Istanbul 3 hours in advance of the flight. My take-on was packed away and I was strip searched down to my underwear.
I was amused and happy for the security, but some people might be bothered by that.
I'm 100% sure it's unpleasant, but their motives are far more trustworthy than the TSA's.
> I'm 100% sure it's unpleasant,...
Well, for me, I am only too happy when there are these kinds of security measures....
Also, the screeners are all former military (even women in Israel are drafted) and have been trained to screen according to emotional response. (emotional prosody).
In my opinion, if US airport security was run according to Israeli standards, 9/11 would have been less likely.
International tourism both in and out would shrink dramatically, as there are precious few religions that consider anywhere in the US to be special holy sites, and plenty of places to see in the US that don't require intensive security screening. No one I know would ever be amused by a strip search.
The Israeli air travel strategy just doesn't scale up quite that well.
Also, we have plenty of veterans who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. who have real combat experience that we could pay more money for at TSA and train and staff appropriately. We could have air martials on every flight.
> "No one I know would ever be amused by a strip search."
Well, it was my own fault and a new experience and the agent/military guy was well trained and respectful. I was only too happy that they security was so through.
Israeli security is very professional and I don't feel nearly the same way with TSA in the US.
The US couldn't route everyone through one airport. It's too big. So put one on each coast. That was just a pinch of hyperbole. The US could not practically do that. But neither could it install Ben Gurion levels of security in all of its international airports, because even with all the combat vets, there are too few Americans would would have the capability, competence, composure, and willingness to take the job. And for those who would, the cost of training would be enormous. Just one airport, like O'Hare, which served 78 million passengers last year, had more than 4 times the volume of Ben Gurion's 18 million. And you would have to increase security for every single international airport, or it wouldn't work.
Americans have a different mindset than Israelis. The nation was born from resistance to arbitrary and capricious colonial restrictions, and has never been surrounded by enemies on all sides. Our history has led many of us to deeply distrust our own corrupt governments and police. Here, "security guard" is a low-prestige job for losers, as embodied in the "mall cop" archetype. You might be able to install increased security in Boston or NYC, where recent history instills a greater sense of insecurity, but it is only a short drive away from the state whose motto is "live free or die", home to libertarian festivals where an amalgamation of activist goals is to one day openly carry firearms, while openly vaporizing marijuana, jaywalking topless to request public records, while recording police in the act of not hassling anyone.
The last time I traveled for work (to New Hampshire, actually) I got to witness the American airport security procedure for checking a firearm. My co-worker apparently never went anywhere without it. And that's a typical American thing. An incredibly large number of us are almost constantly armed. Legally. You can't stop someone 3 miles out from the airport at a checkpoint and say the car can't proceed with a weapon in it. The NRA would take that all the way to the Supreme Court and win.
Even the ineffectual security theater they put on in airports now induces hordes of Americans to prefer ground transport, rather than put up with it. And not only are Americans obsessed with their own freedom, but we are also a nation of bargain hunters. This is the country that gave Wal-Mart to the world, and exported many of its own manufacturing jobs to other countries. If we had to pay more for air travel just to get expensive real security instead of cheap placebo, the airlines would simply go bankrupt [more often than they already do].
So if you try to say "arrive 3 hours before departure or strip search" in most US airports, you will have a lot of empty terminals. For one, adding 3 hours to a flight between, for instance, Los Angeles and San Francisco is making that 3 hours in an airport plus an hour in the air plus another 30 minutes for luggage and ground transport versus just getting onto I-5 and driving for 6 hours. From Chicago to Louisville, to name a flight recently in the news, that would be a 5 hour drive compared to 4.5 hours between airports. Hell, last time I flew on my own dime, I drove two hours, to reach another airport with cheaper fares. The local airport actually runs ads on television, begging people not to do that.
First, you are speaking in terms of numerators but not denominators. Sure, we have 78 million people going through O'Hare of Chicago vs. 18 million for Ben Gurion. But the US has far more people and far more wealth than Israel as well as very large number of seasoned combat veterans.
Many Israelis carry firearms including those that live outside the green line. Those armed Israelis have stopped terrorists. In the case of a Yeshiva in Jerusalem a few years ago a terrorist killed 8 students but was stopped by another student who had a firearm (of course, former military). I know of another person who shot a terrorist who was shooting a machine gun at a bus. He was a hero but Israel doesn't publicize it because it makes him a target.
It may not be as perfect to have US International airports have the same level of security as Israel, but it could be much better than it is today. I'm not certain why Israel has the 3 hour rule.
As it is, for flights, airlines ask that you come to the airport two hours in advance, and in particular that is true for international flights.
Airports should receive more funding for security to 1) speed up the process and 2) use formal military combat vets properly trained. I suspect a small increase in the flight ticket tax to use for airport security would make the difference.
> "the airlines would simply go bankrupt [more often than they already do]."
They often go bankrupt partially because air travel for most is a commodity and it is hard to make profits with a commodity with many substitutions. Of course, consolidation such as United buying out Continental a few years ago makes airlines a bit less of a commodity because of fewer alternatives for flight.
Just chiming in to add some context to this. In terms of area, population, and GDP, Israel is pretty close to New Jersey.
That's all it takes.
Also, IIRC, El-Al has an air martial (again former military in every case) on each flight.
It's an impossible to comply with demand, that gives the person evaluating entirety to claim compliance or non-compliance based on whim. Not a far cry from a poll test.
That's quite a statement. I certainly enjoyed my NYC trip a couple of years ago, but there are many european cities that I rather (re)visit before going back to the US. This is not only because of the current administration (though that doesn't help). People have different preferences.
Europe is very beautiful. But for the creative energy and vibrancy NYC is the place to be.
Number of Apple Stores in Manhattan = 7 (incl. one 24/365)
Number of Apple Stores in NYC 5 Boroughs = 10
Number of stores Paris (incl. La Defense) = 4
Number of stores London = 5
Number of stores Berlin = 1
Jazz/Blues/all kinds of music, a city open 24/7 full of creative vibrancy. 40% of New Yorkers not born in USA. We don't do BrExit here forcing (legal) residents out.
NYC has a 24 hour subway system which costs about $120 / month for unlimited rides. London and Paris shut down their subways at 12:30 AM. Thus, NYC is more committed to green, not forcing people to use gas guzzlers at night.
These cities are also 24/7, to a greater extent than any Western city, I would argue.
Have you really been to NYC? Jazz, Blues, much other music, etc.
No 24/365 Apple Store in Asia.
# Apple Stores Tokyo = 4
# Apple Stores Shanghai = 7
# Apple Stores Seoul = 0 (Possible 1 in future)
# Apple Stores NYC = 10 including the 24/365 store
My experience of New York was tall buildings, narrow streets with garbage on the sidewalks, ridiculously expensive rents, homelessness on streets, lots of people walking around but very few actually willing to have a conversation. I enjoyed the street food and it was a great experience but I would chose a number of places around the world over New York for a company trip.
Well, with a 24/365 store I sleep easier at night knowing that if I need another unit or in person assistance when on a tight deadline I can get one. :-)
Also, Apple products, Macs, iPhones, iPads, are the tools of choice for the creative industries (media, photo, fashion, software development, much engineering, ....) and so number of stores and a 24/365 store is an index of creativity and vibrancy.
A couple of years ago at the 24/365 store I was told by an Apple Genius Bar person that the sales volume of that store alone is nearly that of the Macy's on 34th which takes an entire city block and that Macy's is the largest store in America.
> "My experience of New York was tall buildings, narrow streets..."
Well, I guess it depends on one's frame of reference. For me, NYC has an energy of its people -- 40% were not even born in the US and have come to make their way in NYC/America. I am always meeting new nice people in coffee shops who are living in NYC and from all over the world. The UN Building is in NYC, but NYC is the UN in itself.
Did you check out the blues/jazz throughout the city but especially in Greenwich Village? The large assortment of museums? The delis with corned beef and pastrami?, other sorts of ethnic foods?
Perhaps if when you return to NYC you meet up with someone who knows the city and you'll feel better.
Which is a bit circular if you're trying to convince anyone else, but as a personal opinion that works fine (I'm serious, you like this sort of thing, good for you. Not so good for the homeless, which you just rather blatantly ignored--ouch--but hey there's probably worse places in the world so ehm yeah! good for you!).
Apple is not nearly as popular in Europe as it is in the US. Software development and engineering, definitely not. Graphics design, sure, but I feel that'll change soon. Sound design / music producing, I'd say about 50/50, but they'll just use both a Windows machine and a Mac in their studio because they like to have the best tools (and VSTs) of both.
> Well, with a 24/365 store I sleep easier at night knowing that if I need another unit or in person assistance when on a tight deadline I can get one. :-)
Not having tight deadlines at night so frequently that I'd need a 24/7 store is what'd make me sleep easier, personally.
Of course, if Microsoft keeps improving the Linux WSL (newest Win10 Creators update adds a lot -- still more to go) it will be a very viable competitor.
Europe is very beautiful, but all of the energy is in the US. This morning I met a couple of Danish women visiting NYC and they love the energy of NYC and the idea of working in a startup / Silicon Valley type environment.
For certain, NYC is not for everyone, but for many, myself included (and those Danish women) NYC just feels so energetic and interesting.
As for deadlines it is the nature of much work...some failures happen at night or holidays when stores are generally closed.
By comparison, every place you can reach within an hour or two of Paris probably is a place worth being. (This was my experience in Madrid, and I'm extrapolating here for Paris.) That's a lot less pressure forcing people into the city center, because people can enjoy themselves much closer to where they live.
You take 24 hour Apple stores as a sign of vibrancy. I'd sooner look at the density of independent bakeries.
As to your subway comment, your conclusion is absurd. It seems likely to me that the savings from having fewer redundant tracks (which would be needed to facilitate maintenance in a 24 hour system) would more than offset the small demand for middle-of-the-night trips that can't wait until the next morning.
Ah, such memories of my visit to that vibrant city ...
How about the Muslims?
Among their many other contributions to the city, the Halal food trucks are a center-point of NYC's late night culture.
And HN discussion of the previous link:
It is not all Muslim Visa holders, but from 7 countries that were determined by the Obama Administration to be a security risk to the US because they don't do adequate screening at their airports. For example, Turks can come to the US as can Muslims from Israel or anywhere else except those 7 countries.
The Visa issue is regrettable, but it is only temporary and the people will eventually be able to return. Those in the US can remain here and not asked to leave as in the case of BrExit.
But thats just me! Everyone has their own preferences.
From needing to show up hours before the flight, to the invasive screenings, the insane restrictions on what you can and cannot bring, the sentiment that if you check any baggage it's basically as good as gone, the ever increasing cost, the delays, and even things like the worry about if your ticket will actually get you on the damn plane!
If I have to choose between a 3 hour flight, and a 12 hour drive, the 12 hour drive is what I pick almost every time now. Ignoring "disasters" (massive accident, theft, etc...) I'm going to have all my stuff, I know i'm not going to waste hundreds of dollars on a ticket that will get "rejected" at the last second, i'll have a car when I get to my destination, i can bring whatever the fuck I want, and it's a fraction of the cost.
I frequently go from Portland to San Jose and back in the same day- I get meetings done and am home in time to put my kids to bed. I also just generally fly pretty frequently. I've got an Arab name and my dad comes from 'one of those countries'. I lived in that country for a few years as a child, and I've visited a few of 'those countries' in the last three or for years. I've literally not been hassled beyond the occasional extended screening XXXX on my boarding pass- like, maybe 2 times in the last three years. I have been bumped from a flight zero times in my entire life.
150 years go if you wanted to travel from California to Oregon you'd be going up the Applegate Trail and the TSA wouldn't even be top 10 annoyances along the way for travel. I say that semi in jest, nor am I endorsing the TSA in anyway shape or form. But frankly, if you're worried about getting bumped or hassled by the TSA I think you're worried about the wrong thing or you've got a very peaceful life that hasn't got many things to worry about.
I'm not saying commercial air travel isn't without its issues, it's generally just kind of annyoying to stand in lines, stand in more lines, then get crammed into a metal tube with my knees smashed against the seat in front me. It's just that the likelihood of some catastrophe (drunk, mental issues, etc.) that isn't self imposed is quite low.
My n=1 anecdote is just that, but I would wager I'm more likely to be hassled or be hit by airline failure given all of my variables AND the sheer number of flights I take compared to the average person. Yet hear am I saying the airlines and TSA aren't really THAT bad. Talk about playing devil's advocate.
I'm not the person you're replying to, but I do have something to say about this.
Your situation is a bit different in that you need to be able to get from Portland to SF and back in a single day. Some people, myself included, don't have that restriction and value the journey as much as we value the destination. Personally, I absolutely LOVE long road trips. Seeing sites, eating at cozy roadside diners, listening to super loud music and sleeping in my car are all things I look forward to.
I really hope Microsoft doesn't fly their candidates with United anymore. A couple of big companies cancelling their corporate contracts might give them a reality check.
Have even cracked a joke or two with TSA agents & gotten a "Welcome to America, enjoy your holiday" at LAX.
I don't get ever get bumped from flights and I get pulled out for "random" searches on average of 1 times per year for the past 5 years.
Again, all anecdotal, but I'm the definition of the guy who should hate the airport. I only just dislike it.
Actually, I wonder how much this will last considering that fossil energy will likely cost more and more and that more and more people from developing countries start to travel too.
But seriously, flying sucks, I've driven 20+hrs to avoid it in the past. Usually worth it since I get to plan out stops and see old friends on the way down the west coast.
I'd rather rent a car and book overnight hotels than buy a US-based airline ticket, to the extent that I have driven (with another driver) 50 hours on the road to avoid 12 hours in the air. And with the prices of airline tickets, even renting the largest passenger vehicle for a week plus two weekends and staying in mid-range hotels was less than half the money cost for four passengers. Also, we got to see Oklahoma in its "everything is on fire" season.
That is the extent to which air travel has fallen. I would rather drive across a state that is literally on fire than fly an airline in the US. I would rather piss at a New Mexico low-water-use rest stop than in an airliner's toilet. I would rather be surrounded by an entire herd of leather-clad hog-riding bikers in the middle of nowhere than put a laptop or decent camera in checked baggage. And if I ever get forcibly dragged out of my seat by some thug, I'd like the cops to be on my side.
But you know what sounds not cool: being in an environment where you have no rights, and as you put it, are at the mercy of thugs.
Which is why he drives... I'll show myself out.
When I was flying back from Paris, I sat next to an Airbus engineer who was working on retrofitting jet engines to run on a biofuel produced via fermentation rather than normal fuel.
No clue how far along that project is or how promising it is, but there are folks in the industry thinking about this problem.
In short, flight prices are unlikely to be severely effected by oil prices again.
Since the oil price crash, investment in exploration has gone down dramatically, so I would argue the contrary.
When the current supplies start to dwindle, I would not be surprised to see oil prices strike $200 or more a barrel.
The oil crash removed the cost of exploration from oil prices, so current prices are no longer a indication of probable future supply.
There's a multi-year lag between exploration and crude coming to market. While futures/derivatives can cover that exploration for future crude extraction, there's a growing spectre of competitive alternative energy that will likely reduce the attractiveness of crude – i.e. there being higher risk of relative oil obsolescence, the anticipated return on futures diminishes, meaning less money going into exploration, even with what will be present-day high prices.
Given the lag in investment, I suspect that when the "spike" comes people will look as much to ramping up more immediate alternatives (solar, wind) than exploring for oil.
The above is all speculation of course, but the 5-10 year market forces at work are not pushing towards lower or even stable oil prices, but towards much higher ones – at least until demand drastically drops, which some figure is at least 15-20 years out.
Just my 2¢.
The fracking technology for oil and gas is still on it's Moore's Law curve and is getting cheaper and cheaper so in fact more and more fracking is coming on-line so that we're unlikely to see prices much above $50 per barrel.
Mar 21, 2017
April 12, 2017
I keep http://oilprice.com/ in my RSS feed to keep tabs on the subject. It looks like the shale exploration is kicking up again (from the site and from friends working in the western part of ND).
and this helps http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Why-Breakeven-Prices-A...
PS: Oil is 53$ per barrel right now, 2x price spikes in commodity prices are fairly common historically.
Demand == Supply
And that's even more true¹ for stuff like oil, that has a low volumetric price. Do you really think demand peaked because people could not find more uses for the stuff?
Oil is in a peak production crash. The prices volatility is a natural consequence of it, and will always stay as high as consumers' budgets allows.
1 - That means, it's true for almost any misleading definition of those terms you can come-up with.
Actually I think the cost of fuel to fly a passenger from New York to London will be cheaper in 30 years, for two reasons: (a) Motor vehicles will no longer be powered by gasoline; and (B) planes will continue to become more fuel efficient.
On the other hand, planes may become electric, and the cost of solar power is rapidly falling. If this trend continues, it will likely become cheaper to fly in the future.
Even if planes don't become electric any time soon, other demand for oil may be displaced, lowering its price.
I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to piloting, but here on HN I've read other stories on light aircraft and training, and how forgiving it is and how it handles plays a very important factor in choosing an airplane as a trainer, no idea how that one does.
A nice advantage for a trainer is that unlike a combustion engine aircraft, a battery powered aircraft's mass isn't changing over time, so the learning pilot can expect a more consistent handling experience.
Making electric motors to spin propellers isn't that hard. We already do this for ships: any modern cruise liner has electrically-powered propellers (screws) that propel the ship. The challenge on a plane is getting the power to the motors. You could do a serial hybrid system, where a diesel generator makes power for the motors; this is what they do on cruise ships, but while it works well there for various reasons (including the variable-speed nature of running a cruise ship, and the usefulness of "azipods" for maneuverability), it's not likely to work so well for planes since planes in flight run their engines near full-throttle all the time (so you end up using more fuel, not less, due to conversion losses). So the idea is running the planes on batteries, like electric cars do now. The problem there is the weight of the batteries needed to store that much power is prohibitive. If someone invents battery tech that can store significantly more energy with the same weight, then the equation will change and we could very well see electric airplanes.
At busy airports like JFK and NRT, I show up no more than 90 minutes before boarding time, which gives me time to check my bags and go through security, and still have time to grab a snack. At smaller airports, like MCI, I show up 30 minutes before boarding time and still have time to relax a bit.
I prefer to check bags. It's free on domestic flights for me and a passenger because I have airline-branded credit card, I avoid the pain of trying to find a space for my carry-on, and it just feels nicer to be able to walk through security and to my gate without dragging around a huge suitcase. I've never once had trouble with checked baggage - no valuables stolen, nothing lost.
And what's this about the "ever-increasing cost"?! Flights are cheaper than ever. If you're lucky enough to live near a hub, you can get anywhere in the world for a decent price. At smaller airports, the hubs are just one flight away and might not even cost any more. If they do it's only $100 or so.
A 3 hour flight is more like a 20 hour drive. Take Chicago to Miami for example. I just looked some flights. A nonstop flight is 3 hr 5 min and cost about $200 round trip. You'd spend more than that on gas for just the one way trip if you drove. Not to mention a hotel since you'd probably want to break it up to 2 days driving.
I still need to show up just as early (as my local airport often has a longer line for precheck!), i still can't pack more than some stupid amount of liquid, or have my shit thrown out because I used a X-oz plastic bag which is too big!!! I still can't check bags as they just won't ever show up, or will show up damaged, have items stolen, or completely trashed from being searched. It only makes the cost more expensive, and it doesn't really help with the "invasive screening" (oh, i don't need to take my shoes off any more... i'm still getting scanned or felt up)
Plus I had to take a day off of work to go answer a bunch of stupid questions, pay them $80-ish per person, and give my fingerprints.
I live 45 minutes from CLT, with an office 45 minutes by taxifrom JFK, and when I fly into JFK, I can leave the house at 5am and be at the office by 10am.
 account_banned on Uber the first time I ever tried to use it, so, taxi it is.
However it did change my calculus when debating train vs plane for trips. It used to be anything under about a 10 hour train ride was a no brainer, now that's more like a 3 hour train ride.
Fuck the TSA and fuck the terrified Americans who keep voting to keep them.
I'm gonna throw a brick through your front window. No reason for it, just gonna do it. Hey, a guy's paying me to do it. Why you gotta be so upset about it?
Let me put this in perspective. The Twin Cities gained a new light rail passenger line a couple years ago. The construction cost for this new line came to about $1 billion. I use this line every single day. It takes me to work and to home and out to dinner. I love this rail line. It makes my life better.
The TSA's annual budget is $8 billion. For the cost of running the TSA for one year, eight metro areas could gain a new rail line. Every year! And what does the TSA do in return for this money? Waste my time. Waste your time. Piss me off. Humiliate me with pat-downs. Why the fuck are we paying for these clowns to do this instead of doing something useful with that money? Because of Americans who have never met a person of Muslim faith but are terrified because of the loud angry white man on TV.
Yeah, it's a big deal and I'm fucking pissed. Why aren't you?
As for TSA security theater and it's bloated budget, right on.
And then I agreed with the TSA security theater notion and bloated budget which goes against your thought I've given up my last ounce of humility in return for "security".
I suggest you read my statement again because you clearly misunderstood.
What kind of nonsense are you people preaching here?
How was he supposed to know that it's really water?
Just because it is clear liquid in a sealed bottle proves nothing, even if you are willing to drink it on the spot. See above, the part about heaven and zealots.
If he said "water" repeatedly, that's not because he actually knows or cares whether it is really water. It very well may be water. He's just saying that that is the rule; even if your liquid is just water, you need to ditch it. He's not going to say all this stuff about "how do I know it's really water" because he's not there to argue; he's just trying to move the line along.
This information all seems like common sense to me.
At that point, the rule isn't "you aren't allowed to bring liquids onto a plane because it might be a bomb". The rule is "you have to bring your bomb on the plane in a special bag".
I just looked at him puzzled, opened the bottle, and drank the water.
Now that I think of it, I was lucky he didn't taze me for my 'insolence'.
I don't plan on flying again any time soon.
Flying commercially sucks, of course, but the security line concerns are overblown. They've been saying "3 hours before departure for international, 2 hours for domestic" for decades, but I just ignore it. I routinely show up 30min before boarding for domestic flights (so, 55-60min before departure) and never have an issue. Worst security line I've seen at SFO was 25min. I was sweating it a bit, but I got to my gate exactly at boarding time, and it was a ghost town.. they hadn't even bothered to get the gate agents there yet!
The only thing you have to be careful of is, if checking a bag, to have it checked 45 or 50min before departure, that's the the tricky one.
Plus driving is cheaper and less stressful...
My experience going through security has always been much smoother than when I traveled to the US. Lines are smaller, security is more relaxed (never had to take my shoes off for example) and the security staff for the most part are much kinder.
When I flew through the US (arrived at DFW to connect to SFO, drove to LA and went from LAX to JFK) I think the only airport that everything was smooth was SFO. DFW was meh-ok but I had to go through immigration so don't want to consider it. But oh my fucking god, I pray to never have to go through LAX again, never expected to be treated like cattle with rude agents everywhere. JFK was a little bit better but not by much.
So yes, comparing my experience between LAX, SFO, JFK and DFW against ARN, MUN, TXL, SXF, BCN, FRA, CDG, AMS, ZUR and DUB... There's really no comparison, never felt mistreated or had any kind of problem with security staff or time in the queues in any of the European airports.
In every case the security involved an X-ray for luggage and walking thru a metal detector. That was it.
Australia in 2014 otoh was nuts. I was taken aside and magic wanded at one airport, subject to a personal body scan (???) and patdown at another, and interrogated on my way out (apparently "company employee" was not an adequate description of my occupation).
Combined with other security theater like police leading dogs around at the gate, it made me not want to visit there again. It was scary!
Mind you I'm from Europe, our gas prices are 4x as high and for trips to e.g. the UK or Scandinavia we have to cross a body of water. There's some toll roads too in e.g. France, and Germany wants to introduce those too.
The cheapest we could have flown is about $200 per person (2 people), not to mention taxi/uber costs.
So for one person, it might be a wash, but for 2+ people its very much cheaper to drive.
For example, I can fly round trip from Chicago, IL (ORD) to Miami, FL (MIA) for $325 per person (tax included, no checked luggage) taking about 7 hours each way (45 minutes to airport, arrive 2 hours early, 3:15 hour flight, 15 minutes to get situated, 45 minutes to destination). To drive that would take 21 hours and 1,400 miles each way which would cost about $300 in gas for my vehicle. This is really a best case scenario for flying being potentially as cheap as driving. If you want to fly to any smaller international or regional airport without frequent direct flights, the cost can easily be a couple hundred dollars more per person.
The biggest thing that could prevent this welcomed development? The government. Specifically that the FAA is likely to clamp down on "Uber Air Taxi" market and declare them common carriers.
Got to protect those monopolies.
The FAA has some really arcane rules, which is why aviation law is an actual speciality. Like, for instance, as a private pilot I can't fly a coworker with me to a conference and be reimbursed by my employer, but I can fly just myself and be reimbursed. There's a lot of subtleties to the FARs.
But if you're talking about private pilots flying people around like Uber drivers do, I can understand why they would clamp down on that.
Commercial and Air Transport pilots have much more rigorous standards than private pilots do, including stricter medical requirements and more thorough yearly medical exams. Private pilots will soon be able to get by with just an annual physical at a family doctor after their initial medical, whereas ATPs have to have a yearly EKG done, for instance. There's also more thorough training, higher hour requirements, etc.
Basically, people and equipment flying passengers are held to the highest standards (sometimes, maybe too high) which is one reason commercial aviation is so safe, and the FAA does not want private pilots who may not meet those standards running underground, fly-by-night airlines. All it takes is one crash wiping out a family in an "uber air taxi," and maybe a few people on the ground if it hits a house or something. In addition to being a tragedy the people involved and aviation in general, it would bring a ton of negative publicity to the relevant licensing agencies followed by mountains of lawsuits.
Without massive changes to the current aviation legal system, I can't see any way an "Uber air taxi" could work. Unlike a lot of cities which may not fully enforce a prohibition on services like Uber, the FAA will bring the wrath of God down on anyone they find willfully breaking the rules.
Until that comes down, jets will simply not approach uber-useful affordability for even people who buy full-fare first class seats.
(Fuel consumption is also much higher both in gal/h and in $/hr for jets compared to pistons)
And piston planes are not nearly as useful for air taxi due to them being unable to fly high enough to avoid most weather. Oh and in general turbines are an order of magnitude less likely to fail per hour.
Anecdotally; I flew to Australia a few months ago on an economy-class ticket purchased at very short notice. My trip through both Auckland and Melbourne airports was very pleasant, and I had no need to even interact with any of the personnel the whole way through. The flight was full but not overbooked and we arrived early.
Reading the stories about travel to the US is very discouraging and erases any desire I had to visit. I suppose there isn't much of an incentive to improve anything in the US, because the economy doesn't rely on tourism to the same extent we do here.
In the USA, you do have to accept that they're a lot more picky about liquids, and they do make you take off your shoes, but seriously, just read the signs and you won't be surprised.
The worst problem I experienced was a 30-delay one time.
Being a wet-behind-the-ears youth I had little idea of how abnormal this was, or how to properly and successfully complain to a gigantic company, and was also secretly enjoying my extra time in the US exploring the hidden places in and around an airport.
But some of the other passengers were frantic. Three days stuck at '90s-era Logan, because United couldn't get their act together and compounded their engineering & operational failures with dismally bad customer service. Some of them were missing major life events as a result.
Twentyish years on I have Legendary frequent flyer status, and exactly no dollars whatsoever were spent towards it with United. I choose to spend extra on friends and family routing with other airlines simply that they may avoid UAL. "Never again". Vote with your wallet.
There's a NAFTA tribunal held once a week at major border crossings with Can/US not many people know about that can overturn the overzealous authority of border guards if anybody receives an arbitrary ban from entry I've had to use it a few times.
As for United Airlines monopolies allow this behavior to happen because where else are you going to go. United holds 73% of slots at Newark for example
As someone not living in the US, travelling to the US is not looking good either. I know of many, many people who have written off visiting the USA for the foreseeable future.
I'm one of those and I've spent many years in the US in the past (lived in NE and VA for 5 years in total and visited over 30 states). Sadly, as much as I enjoy visiting the States, it simply feels like too much of a liability to visit at the moment. I'll reconsider in 4 years if it hasn't got any worse.
By contrast, I've travelled to a lot of countries that the USA considers dangerous or extreme (e.g. Sudan), and have had nothing but pleasant and easy experiences.
According to some, it already has:
"All this has resulted in an estimated loss of $185 million in business travel bookings from January 28 to February 4, as calculated by the Global Business Travel Association. The drop-off in tourism is predicted to result in 4.3 million fewer visitors this year, which adds up to a staggering loss of $7.4 billion in revenue for the US."
At Boston Logan airport me and some colleagues (+ the rest of the people on the plane waiting at customs) were once barked at: "The next person who forgot to fill out the back of his green form will be sent back to his home country!" No smiles, just a death stare while you put in your finger prints...
It's a shame, it's such a beautiful country but I could do without.
Also time. Something like a fundamental travel industry shakeup could take decades. Here's hoping. As a Canadian, crossing that border is getting less and less appealing.
That's most likely just the normal variation in the flight schedules - they can vary dramatically not just by time of year, but also time of day.
For example, I just took a flight from Dubai to NYC (and this was after Trump's Muslim ban came into effect). The flight was packed, with nearly every seat full. Last year, I took the same flight but a few hours later, and it was nearly empty - almost every person in coach had the entire row to themselves (which, for a 15-hour flight, was great!).
Or put another way, if the flight on the way from Chicago to Rome was full and the flight from Madrid to Chicago was not, that doesn't really tell you much about aggregate tourism from other countries to the US, unless you're also making the assumption that there are literally planes full of people emigrating from the US every day.
In general terms, you can't really have a direction imbalance - especially due to the reasons you are positing. The vast majority of people flying (either direction) is on a tourist visa. Those people have to return as well as get there, so if a flight is full headed to Europe pretty much the same number of people must return. And vice versa.
Immigration/long-term business stays/etc. are a tiny fraction of the folks on the airplane. I suppose there could be an epidemic of US tourists overstaying their EU visas but I kind of doubt it :)
You'd see a reduction in load factor in both directions if there is a dropoff of EU tourism.
This is a direct consequence of charging for checked bags.
Now every flight takes twice as long to board and disembark because everyone is carrying as much carry on as they can and trying to stuff them into the overhead bins.
Annoyingly, they usually start making announcements about gate-checking bags for free so they are not really reducing the costs and they're encouraging passengers to drag their bags through security (slowing down that line) in the hope they can gate check the bag for free (or not at all) in order to save $100/bag.
The airlines should offer free bag check and charge $100/bag per carry-on in the overhead bins (under the seat is free still).
I agree, One free bag check should be compulsory. They should also ensure that your bags arrive faster than you at the baggage carousel. May be one day with the advent of robots.
This is the reason I do carry-on only if I can get away with it. I want to keep my airport-time as low as reasonably possible. I also try to optimise my seating for this purpose rhen its something I can do (without paying for priority stuff). For example, on a recent flight, I was the 3rd person through the passport checks and the first person (as far as I could tell) leaving the secure area.
I sure hope not. Isolation only fuels nationalism. Nationalism fuels irrational decisions. Irrational decisions lead to fascism.
If you want your people to dehumanize a culture, the first step is to isolate your people from that culture. Don't allow your people any opportunity to empathize with that culture. If you continue to isolate your people, you can breed an "us vs them" sentiment. This is perfect if you want to start a war with popular support.
This is a global optimization problem that can be easily solved - but there are many cases where on the ground discretion is required [last minute aircraft change, weather delay]. Poorly paid, under trained and under motivated staff will always drop the ball in this situation.
The solution for United here is two fold 1) Increase training, comp, authority and motivation of gate agents to solve problems with minimal disruption. This used to be the case a bankruptcy ago. This setup is not likely to return due to a simple reason: cost. United in bankruptcy blew up the pension promises to some of their most experienced staff. They left.
2) The best outcome for United is to reduce the complexity of their product so that customer expectations of service align with the company's ability to deliver.
tl;dr: United's service is too complex for their gate agents to deliver. Service should be simplified.
It's a pretty low cost to customers (I've never met anyone who was unhappy that they got bumped, because the kind of people who don't want to get bumped don't opt-in) and it actually delivers returns in the form of lower ticket prices, since if they were underutilizing the space in the planes, it would be more costly to operate.
It seems to me that the problem with this situation was not overbooking, it was that for whatever reason they did not use the generally well-received bidding system to allow the people who were going to be bumped to select themselves. On a full plane, what are the chances that you can't find 4 people willing to give up their seats for $1000 (or even less)?
And great point about how it is more efficient this way. Reminds me of surge pricing, or congestion pricing. Economics ftw.
That's not every flight. Small enough that its too small for anecdotal evidence to be useful, big enough that it causes media stories. Every airline has some degree of overbooking necessary because flights get delayed, connecting flights lose passengers, and sometimes people just simply don't show up.
Especially in large airports (ie: Chicago's) where the airport is basically a hub for other airports to go to.
United Airlines is solidly average on overbooking: https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/reso...
At 0.4 passengers per 10,000 bumped, United Airlines is actually a lot better than Jetblue or Southwest.
See page 33.
This is naturally going to create a systemic problem when there's too many overbooked flights. If you have to bump some passengers from flight 1, then they try to get on flight 2, but flight 2 is ALSO overbooked, so now you have to bump or pay off even more passengers from flight 2 and put them on flight 3, which is ALSO overbooked and so on. You end up with a cascading snowball of bumped passengers.
Inevitably you run into a situation where nobody wants to volunteer, then you get a situation like the one in the news. It's not a coincidence that happened on United.
In any case, United is not the worst offender in either voluntary nor involuntary "bumps".
I don't think it's wrong per se, in a moral sense. I just think it creates problems. The more overbooked flights you have, the less able you are to respond to delays or to re-seat passengers who got bumped, or to find new flights for people whose plane suddenly got smaller or who missed a connection or whatever, and there are ALWAYS going to be things like that happening.
The passengers who get bumped don't usually just give up altogether. They have to get on some flight. The more overbooked flights there are, the fewer chances there are for them to get on a different flight, and the more people there are looking for different flights in the first place. The problem compounds and you get the cascading spiral like I described above.
A constrained system like the airline is going to respond nonlinearly to perturbations. When you double the number of overbooked flights, the problems they cause aren't just going to get twice as bad, they'll get four times or six times as bad or more. (made up numbers, I'm just saying it's not one-to-one).
Flying is already a stressful experience thanks to the TSA and just the general stress of making sure you get there on time with all the uncertainty in what can go wrong (traffic, long security line, long wait to check a bag, whatever). If I book a flight at a certain time, it's because I want to leave and arrive at the times I chose, not a couple hours later or the next day or two days later, or never. This is why I pretty much refuse to fly United anymore. I don't like the stress of having to wonder if I'm going to be allowed on the flight I've paid for.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWksuyry5w does a great 5 min overview talking about this exact thing.
JetBlue overbooks 3x more than United does. See page 33.
The problem here was not detecting that the flight was _now_ overbooked after reducing the available seats.
Unfortunately it is the greed and stupidity of us consumers that drove this market into the ground. We shouldn't blame airlines. Think about this next time when you pick 'order by price' in skyscanner...
It won't lead to an airline bankruptcy.How about we create a cancellation fee. UA can add an incentive (not sure if one already exist) to their mileage club membership giving club member free cancellation up to 5 hours before the onboard time.
* Free cancellation up to 24 hours, and thereafter no refund plus a $30 cancellation fee.
* 50% refund for up to 24 hours
* no refund if no show
* club members get up to free cancellation and 50% refund up to 5 hours, except
* ultra gold club members free cancellation and 80% refund without cancellation fee
IDK. Someone on their business team make up a profitable number.
The truth is though, airline does this because they have a proven statistics the percentage of customers are no-show. According to :
> On average, the number of people not turning up to flights is around 5 percent, but, in certain circumstances, that number can be up to 15 percent. Obviously, that puts airlines in an interesting position.
In the long run as airlines struggle to keep up with profit if overbooking is illegal, airlines will be forced to implement the above.
I have done this before because buying a new ticket cost me less than moving the existing ticket. So I just didn't check in, and didn't turn up for the flight.
Well, aircraft are really, really expensive. On the order of hundreds of millions of dollars apiece just to buy. Then there's the yearly maintenance which involves tearing them apart and putting them back together. And the jet fuel, airport landing fees, highly trained personnel, regulations...
This means their operation costs eat up somewhere around 80-90% of the revenue for any single full flight. I can't imagine personally trying to manage such a system and eeking profit out of it.
One of the big reasons airlines even survive while serving so many otherwise unprofitable locations is because of the federal grants, and the regulations that ensure they do serve more than just the biggest metropolitan areas.
In other words, if unregulated and not provided with grants, airlines would only ever serve the major cities (with higher ticket prices as they do so), because it would never be profitable to serve anywhere else. They would also completely fold after the first downturn in air travel (9/11 would have effectively killed all the airlines).
(A few years before, airlines generally were barely eking it out, but that was in a time of high oil prices. The recent collapse in the price of fuel has been very, very good to them.)
That said, it's very hard for one airline to avoid the race to the bottom unless they spread that across the company's processes. AKA, we don't double book, we don't have ridiculous fees etc, your ticket costs X% more, but and they capture a different market segment.
Too late for that now. Get ready for more harsh treatment in the future and lots of increases in fare prices, higher than inflation.
Some people believe this may have already occurred.
And before we call air travel expensive let's look at what it actually is. We've only been flying at all for about a century (much less of that time commercially) and it's already safer than driving to the airport. You can get from San Francisco to LA for less than $100 in an hour. Across the country (NYC to LA) for less than $400 in the amount of time it takes you to watch two movies and eat a meal. This is with something approaching $300-350k worth of annual payroll in the cockpit, flying a machine where the engines have to be literally broken down into their component pieces and rebuilt on a regular schedule. The overhead is obscene, the skills required to do the job are expensive, and they'll move you and a friend from one end of the country to the other for less than most people here would spend on a laptop.
The fact that a $20 difference in fare will make you choose one airline over the other is what drives all airlines to this point.
1. When did this happen? The article makes it look like this just happened, but does not mention a date. I suspect the omission is on purpose (if so, boo!; if not, sorry, but please add event date).
2. The fact that the guy bumped off is rich is irrelevant (and going on and on about it dulls the message).
3. The fact that the seat the guy was downgraded was noisy (people arguing on both sides) is irrelevant.
IMO the main point is valid -- the person was first to the seat and in general whoever gets into the seat first keeps it in case of a seat collision or a duplicate ticket. He should not have been asked to free it to another passenger (who should have been downgraded instead and compensated somehow). But conflating this with unrelated issue to get on a "United stinks" meme is a cheap trick. My 2c.
It happened on April 1st. He was offered the difference in price between the first class seat and the economy seat. That seems like poor compensation since this is basically a form of denied boarding, which involves higher compensation. Perhaps technically, since he still had a seat, it's not denied boarding, but it's certainly worth more than the fare difference.
The relevant part is that the United staff specifically said he would be put in handcuffs if he didn't comply. That's the part to me that makes this fair game to bootstrap some attention from the other incident.
He doesn't appear to need the money: http://www.tripacificllc.com/team.html
Edit: Also, he has a JD from Stanford. Lol...United picked the wrong guy.
I would be extremely annoyed if I were in the same situation as this flyer.
However, I'm not really sure what United is supposed to do here ... according to the article they had a mechanical problem with the original plane and the replacement plane had fewer first class seats ...
So somebody has to not fly in the first class seat.
Again, I would be very, very upset - but as an outsider looking in, it seems a bit childish and primitive to assume that whoever raced to the seat first gets to keep it, regardless of any other factors.
Again, United has to downgrade somebody to coach in this situation - it seems reasonable that they sort that downgrade to the lowest "status" passenger.
It isn't like a city bus where you can elbow your way to the front of the line and grab a seat. There's an assigned seating process that's 100% controlled by the airline. If they screw it up, that's on their heads.
It is an entirely reasonable expectation that once you've been issued a boarding pass, board the plane, put your bag up, belt in, and get a drink that you are sitting in that seat. There's nothing childish or primitive about having that expectation.
I saw duplicate assigned seats, I saw seats assigned in the toilet -- the plane had last row of ABC seats and lavatory where DEF seats would be. Sure enough two people show up with tickets in the DEF section. After some (weary) chuckles the folks just got squeezed into any open seats.
What is messed up about this case though was the lack of clear policy (so the person does not feel he is discriminated against), threats instead of apology and no compensation.
I am also surprised at the price: $1000 for a first class ticket on a long flight is low. Was that be one of the "gate upgrades" he purchased instead of the real first class ticket? This does not absolve United at all, but at least gives some potential sanity to their choice of a purchased seat over a gate upgrade.
Your point #2 and #3 are valid.
The customer even paid premium price to be in first class and instead of being notified at the gate, like any respectable airline would do, he's asked to give his seat to somebody "more important" than him when already seated.
It doesn't make any sense, if that "more important person" came later, he should be the one getting compensated by the airline especially when the problem occurred because United needed to change the plane for a smaller one.
You don't kick customer, you compensate them.
By the look on the faces of the two lounge receptionists, you'd think I'd asked if I could take a dump on their desk. "Other people have paid membership to use this lounge" I was told in a rather disdainful way. "Sure", I said, "would you like to put a value on the fact that I will never fly with you again then?", I replied...silence - they stopped talking to me and carried on doing other stuff as if I had suddenly become invisible.
No, I did not get to use the lounge, and no, I have never flown with United since - which also means that work colleagues who travel with me are also lost to them.
There's no excuse for them being rude about it, but I don't think your expectations were especially reasonable either.
I am so glad that United officially incorporated this wonderful custom. No longer do I need to decide on the bribe amount on a per-case basis, I can now just pay once!
Some airlines will take over an entire terminal at an airport (e.g., JetBlue, Virgin America) and make it much better on both fronts. But in my experience that is not the norm.
Despite the delay, we were happy customers.
Some vouchers or access to the lounge, with the passenger then not bothering to claim compensation, is much cheaper for the airline.
Even better if they have good beer ;)
I've flown Lufthansa plenty of times, they're great, even economy.
We felt that, as full fare, 1st class passengers, delayed for 12 hours by non-weather reason, we should have access to their lounge. Nope. I'm happy to say I never flew with them again.
I wonder if that is grounds to sue.
“Despite the negative experience, we hope to have your continued support,” the rep concluded. “Your business is especially important to us and we'll do our utmost to make your future contacts with United satisfactory in every respect.”
Seems like they prefer a certain skill level of employee: low.
How many people were on that flight with you? If you have the right to go in the lounge then everyone else does, and obviously that's not going to work. In addition, the lounge is for those who pay for it, not for those whose flight gets cancelled. If I paid for it and all of a sudden the lounge is full of people because a flight got cancelled I wouldn't be happy.
It's your right to never fly United again, but I don't think the staff was unreasonable.
Also, there is no way to know if they were actually rude, or if you were rude first because they cancelled your flight and you asked in the wrong way.
Furthermore, if we're going to compare 'worlds,' those people working behind the counter aren't the only overworked and underpaid workers. A lot of people in the world are working in far worse conditions than behind a counter at an airport... and for less pay. Even in other low-paying jobs, I don't expect every employee to be so visually and verbally disdainful to a customer for asking a question.
They will decry working conditions (if it could mean they would be subject to those conditions), but willfully ignore the gap between themselves and laborers.
>would you like to put a value on the fact that I will never fly with you again then?
As if we're supposed to expect that someone who acts like this even asked the employees nicely. The employees should be scared they'll lose their job if they don't do exactly what I say!
Sorry, but you're the one with the out of line thinking here.
"Sir please deplane we need your seat"
"No- I haven't done anything illegal and am in my seat already"
"Looks like he's not following crew instructions! Get em' boys!"
Looks like the officer, Sgt. Brian Stansbury, got off with nothing:
Again I'll offer the example of Germany: cops are basically all armed, but they're very slow to pull out their gun. Even if you run at them with a knife, they'll aim for your legs. Saves a lot of lives, with just training and culture.
| [Cop:] May I see your license and registration?
| Ah certainly...
| [Cop:] What you're doing?
| Chewin' chocolate
| [Cop:] Where did ya get it?
| Doggy dropped it
| [Cop:] ...carry on
Based on http://www.askthepilot.com/how-to-speak-airline/ it seems like "boarding" means to enter the plane.
> One might argue that Dao had not completed “boarding” until the cabin door was closed. This argument would be wrong. The term “boarding” is not defined in the definition section of the contract, and absent an explicit definition in the contract, terms are to be afforded their plain meaning. “Boarding” means that the passenger presents a boarding pass to the gate agent who accepts or scans the pass and permits entry through the gate to the airplane, allowing the passenger to enter the aircraft and take a seat.
> It is possible in this regard to distinguish between the collective completion of the plane’s boarding process, which is not complete until all passengers have boarded and the cabin door is closed. But that is different from each passenger’s boarding, which is complete for each individual once he or she has been accepted for transportation by the gate agent and proceeded to the aircraft and taken his or her assigned seat.
This was all on Asian airlines. My few experiences on United have been terrible.
So in this case I'd say the regulations guiding airlines is fair. United's execution of these regulations is the problem. There are a million things United could have done in the chain of events to have avoided facing a PR backlash. As this is HN, I'd give a simple technical solution that would have avoided this whole problem:
The computer could have deboarded 8 passangers at random from order of lowest priority. United could have explained that if their employees don't catch this flight another flight with XXX passengers will be delayed / cancelled. This would allow the supervisor to use their own discretion to allow 4 of the 8 passengers to reboard.
Making the practice of "overselling" illegal is not the solution. There are times where problem could be cause by equipment swaps changing seat numbers. If we stop the airlines from overselling then travelling will become a lot more expensive.
Your solution just has the airline crew going, "Fair enough, sir, you can stay" and then calling the next name. At that point, the next person knows that refusing is allowed, so he does too. Pretty quickly, you're absolutely going to be on a flight where five of the eight refuse, and now you're back to bludgeoning elderly asian people. And at some point, the whole system becomes public knowledge, and you now add the element of fights between passengers because we all know that only four of us get to refuse.
Or you just eject all eight of them and four can later reboard. Again, what if one or more refuse.
There is a solution in place already. United just didn't choose to employ it. United offered vouchers to anyone who wanted to voluntarily give up their seats. They reportedly bumped the offer one time. They didn't bump it enough. There's your solution. I promise you everyone on that plane had a price. You can find four people who'll take say $2000 to miss a flight to fucking Louisville. Does United think $2000 is too much? I guess so, but at that point, United has a problem that can be solved by effectively buying back some seats, and sellers get to set the price they'll take. It would have been a hell of a lot cheaper to have paid them.
You inform the refusenik that he is trespassing; if he continues to refuse to leave, you inform him that police will be waiting for him at his destination, then call out the fifth name on the list. When you arrive at the destination, he goes to jail, while the four bumped passengers get vouchers and fly later.
Come'on this is hacker news. I am sure most here have seen the mainframe based applications that entirely control every aspect of airline industry.
These things were coded by professionals over 30 years ago. Its not like these flights are being managed by some buggy wordpress plugin made by some offshore developer.
Given how cheap flying is by historical standards, I wouldn't mind that.
Bumping a well behaving passenger in preference of a "more important" one doesn't really fall into either category.
Considering the passenger in this story has already consulted legal counsil, I'm thinking the lawyer agrees that he did nothing wrong.
There's a lot of room in between a contractual dispute and interference.
It applies only in the "Special Aircraft Jurisdiction of the United States":
"An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant..." 
An aircraft is in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States only while the aircraft is "in flight." 
"An aircraft is "in flight" from the moment when all external doors are closed following embarkation until the moment when one such door is opened for disembarkation, or in the case of a forced landing, until competent authorities take responsibility for the aircraft"
IANAL, but it would seem difficult to charge anyone with "interfering with a flight crew" if the door hasn't been shut. The language doesn't seem ambiguous.
 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2009-title49/html/USCOD... (scroll down to the 46504 section)