Sunday, February 1, 2009

US Airways and "acts of God" (no, Empoprise-BI isn't getting religious)

I believe I first heard about this on the radio on Friday morning, but I didn't read about it until I saw Ben Popken's item in the Consumerist entitled "Whoop di doo: 1549 Passengers Get Elite Frequent Flier Status, For A Limited Time." After Popken noted that the US Airways Flight 1549 passengers would only get "Chairman's Preferred status" until March 2010, Popken quoted from one of the passengers:

Passenger Antonio Sales from the flight told the New York Post, "That's more of an 'OK, you're not dead, I'll give you something to hold on to.' It's not enough at all."

Popken linked to the New York Post article, which included a number of similar complaints from several passengers. For example, here's something else that Sales said:

"You're going to crash me into the water, and you're going to tell me all I get is an upgrade?"

Only one minor problem - US Airways didn't crash the plane into the water.

It's time to talk about "acts of God." And no, I'm not already reconsidering my Saturday decision NOT to start an Empoprises religion blog. In this case, the "act of God" terminology is legal, not religious. Here's a portion of the 'Lectric Law Library's definition of the term:

ACT OF GOD - A natural event, not preventable by any human agency, such as flood, storms, or lightning. Forces of nature that no one has control over, and therefore cannot be held accountable.

Does the flight of the geese into US Airways Flight 1549 constitute an "act of God"? I consulted the noted legal authority, in which most people argued that this was an "act of God" for which US Airways was not liable. Here are a couple of examples:

This was very nice of U.S. Airways, they did not need to pay out the $5000 for every passenger it was not U.S. Airways fault it was a bird strike. U.S. Airways or the pilots are not God they could not keep the birds from flying in the path. It was just bad timing!! If anyone is to blame, then let's blame PETA for not allowing the Canadian Geese to be CONTROLLED in areas surrounding airports!

is not responsible for an act of God. In this case a flock of birds. They are being generous to a group of people that could have lost their life. I am happy this ended as well as it did.

On the other hand:

If I was the passenger I would re-turn that 5k, and have my day in court. 5k, is not enough for the accident, US Airways knows they are wrong that's why they are giving the people 5k [hoping] they have less people they have to see in court.

Well, I'm not a lawyer either, but until they put automatic shotguns on the wings of airplanes, I suspect that geese flying into airplanes will be a problem for some time to come.
blog comments powered by Disqus