Alaska Airlines needs help communicating

Boy, Alaska Air has been in the news a lot recently. Remember last week, when the guy went into a rage over his neighbor’s overhead light? And now this story from CNN.

Imagine you are on a flight. You’re super excited about your exit row seat, with all that extra room. You get settled, look out the window and see the wing….. with some writing on it? You look a little closer, and see the following message: “We know about this,” with an arrow pointing to the chunk missing from one of the wingflaps. Oh, dear.

When the passenger contacted Alaska Airlines to find out what exactly was going on, they were told that the wing flap had received an FAA-approved repair before the flight and was safe to fly. The note was left because:

“’…before every flight, pilots do a walk around the plane, and they kept seeing the section repair and pointing it out and kept filing a report saying, ‘you need to fix it,’ ‘ said airline spokesman Paul McElroy.

Maintenance workers wrote the note to head off further reports, which was ‘not the best approach,’ McElroy said.”

There is a spirited debate in the comments of the CNN story about the safety of airlines in general, today, and if you have a minute I encourage you to read it. I am not an expert and don’t know enough about airplane maintenance to know whether the plane was safe to fly, so I’m not going to comment on that. But what I do want to comment on is the incredibly unprofessional phrase used. “We know about this.” Really? Really. Is that what you were trying to say? I see that, and I think, Who knows about what? And was it fixed? Who is the message for? Passengers who keep pointing out the hole in the wingflap? There are a million other phrases they could have used, such as , “Repaired per FAA Guideline number XX.” Not that much longer, and looks way more official. I would be far less frightened to see a message like that, vs. “We know about this.”

Readers, what do you think? Did they handle it appropriately, or could they have done better?


  1. Haha wow! As if the average non-frequently flying passenger isn’t scared enough of flying!

  2. I have to believe that it is a non-event, blown way out of proportion by ‘news media’ that truly don’t know an airplane from a submarine. It is dramatic space-filler and should be ignored. (Another in the hundred or so reasons that I’ve not owned a TV for nearly 20 years.)

  3. It wasn’t handled well. However, I have never flown with any airline that communicates better than Alaska/Horizon. I traveled 4 segments weekly for 1.5 years on Alaska/Horizon. I now hae a different route with United flying 4 segments a week. United falls short of Alaska in every way! I could go on and on….

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