Memo to airline CEOs: Gerald Arpey, AMR (NYSE:AMR); Richard Anderson, Delta (NYSE:DAL) & Larry Kellner, Continental (NYSE:CAL).
Subject: Vigilante Row Seating
Now that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made it clear that the best hope that airlines have when attacked by terrorists is the courage of private citizens, the international carriers have the opportunity to protect their passengers and planes. Secretary Napolitano said that “the system worked” and it did. Several people on Northwest Flight 253 subdued bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab before he might have blown up the aircraft. Some of the “heros” had to climb over several seats to get to Abdulmutallab, a sign that Northwest could have put these passengers closer to the danger.
Airlines have the opportunity to give vigilantes the same seat preference that exit row passengers get. Passengers in exit rows merely have to be able to open the cabin window to be awarded the best seats on the aircraft. People large enough and strong enough to subdue dangerous passengers should also get premium spots on aisles and next to windows located tactically around the aircraft.
The federal government has made it clear that it does not have the capacity to screen for all suspected terrorists so airlines can either leave the safety of their passengers to luck or give passengers an incentive to patrol commercial aircraft.
Douglas A. McIntyre
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