United Airlines staffers protest during international ‘Day of Action’: ‘We’re an airline, not a hedge fund’

The weather outside is frightful, and working conditions for United Airlines employees are apparently less than delightful, as evidenced by recent protests. Impending staffing cuts, effective in early 2019, recently drove over 24,000 flight attendants to an international “Day of Action,” TravelPulse reports. Impending staffing cuts, effective in early 2019, recently drove over 24,000 flight attendants … Continue reading “United Airlines staffers protest during international ‘Day of Action’: ‘We’re an airline, not a hedge fund’”

The weather outside is frightful, and working conditions for United Airlines employees are apparently less than delightful, as evidenced by recent protests.

Impending staffing cuts, effective in early 2019, recently drove over 24,000 flight attendants to an international “Day of Action,” TravelPulse reports.

Impending staffing cuts, effective in early 2019, recently drove over 24,000 flight attendants to protest the airline during an international “Day of Action." (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Dec. 13, United flight attendants and cabin crew members united to picket at air hubs around the world – including Washington, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Frankfurt, Germany – regarding the forthcoming cuts, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The weather outside is frightful, and working conditions are apparently less than delightful for United Airlines employees. (iStock)

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According to the outlet, the campaign was organized by Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), which represents over 50,000 flight attendants employed at 20 airlines. As of February 2019, United will operate international flights with 10 flight attendants — one staffer down from the current 11. Staffers removed from those trips do not face termination, but instead will be assigned to other trips, as per the Times.

While reps for the carrier did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment, a spokesperson did confirm to the Times that United’s decision is meant to align the airline’s staffing levels with those of its competitors, namely Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.

Meanwhile, some insiders don’t quite agree.

“We need them there. They’re our eyes. It’s about safety,” a 20-year United flight attendant who picketed outside Newark Liberty International Airport told CNBC.

An AFA exec, too, voiced similar sentiments, arguing that not only was United was prioritizing its financial interests above passenger safety, but that the staffing cut announcement served as a tipping point of frustration for many United employees on top of other long-running issues.

“Instead of leading U.S. carriers and distinguishing United Airlines with superior safety and enhanced customer service, the airline is lowering its standards to follow American and Delta,” Ken Diaz, President of AFA’s United Master Executive Council, said in a press release ahead of the Day of Action. “This is not the way to say we love our passengers.”

“When United is making record profits, it should not be cutting back on the people who are on the front lines of safeguarding and serving passengers. A profitable major airline should not be rushing to reduce customer service,” he continued. “The staffing cut announcement was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We are calling on this management to fix computer glitches, eliminate inhumane schedules, and increase staffing so we have the necessary tools to focus on the best experience for the traveling public.”

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“We are an airline. Not a hedge fund,” one protest sign read, as per the AFA’s Twitter account.

“Staffing cuts affect safety and service.”

The carrier is also said to be cracking down on uniform rules regarding holiday accessories for its staffers through the next few weeks as well.

The Chicago-based carrier reportedly wants staffers to keep it professional as they get into the holiday spirit, according to a newly released memo on “Holiday Adornment” described in the LA Times.

Though “head adornments (i.e., antlers, santa hats, halos, etc.); holiday vests or sweaters; holiday aprons: holiday hosiery,” are banned, “conservative” holiday scarves, earrings, ties and pins are allowed.

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A rep for United told the Times that such a memo is released this time every year.

Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak

Passenger caught smuggling 70 live finches into US at New York airport

A passenger flying into New York from South America was caught bringing 70 live birds in a carry-on bag into John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday.

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The unidentified passenger, who flew in from Georgetown, Guyana, was caught by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon deplaning at the New York City airport.

The birds were found to be transported inside hair rollers in a black duffle bag, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers said in a statement.

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The finches were taken from the passenger, detained under quarantine and turned over to the United States Department of Veterinary Services.

“CBP Agriculture Specialists are the first line of defense to prevent the introduction of animal diseases that have the potential to cause significant damage to the nation’s agricultural economy,” said Troy Miller, Director, Field Operations, New York Field Office.

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Birds can carry a number of potentially fatal diseases and parasites that can spread to humans and other animals. In 2015, the U.S. had a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or bird flu, outbreak that resulted in the culling of 50 million commercial turkeys and chickens. The spread also reportedly caused $850 million in damages.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

Oprah International? Politician pushes name-change for Nashville airport

Future flyers passing through Nashville’s busiest air hub may someday know it as Oprah G. Winfrey Nashville International Airport, if one local politician has her way in renaming the facility after the billionaire media mogul and philanthropist.

After facing pushback from Nashville International Airport officials on the proposal, which she first pitched on Nov. 5, Metro Council Member Sharon Hurt is now petitioning Nashville Mayor David Briley to hear her case, the Tennessean reports.

Members of the Airport Authority Board are sticking by a policy that mandates individuals must be deceased for at least two years before they can be honored with the naming of a facility or building and must have made a "substantial contribution" to the Nashville air hub or the field of aviation as a whole. (Getty/iStock)

According to the outlet, members of the Airport Authority Board are sticking by a policy that mandates individuals must be deceased for at least two years before they can be honored with the naming of a facility or building, and must have made a "substantial contribution" to the Nashville air hub or the field of aviation as a whole.

Winfrey, meanwhile, had attended school at Tennessee State University and East High School. and got her start on the small screen in Nashville nearly 40 years ago.

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An image of Nashville International Airport in Tennessee. (iStock)

Though 64-year-old Winfrey doesn’t meet airport board's requirements, Hurt says the star is more than qualified to be honored.

"It's Oprah. Nashville is in a very unique position to be able to offer that type of recognition to someone that's very deserving,” Hurt told the Tennessean. "I think it's a grand opportunity for us to recognize someone of Oprah's stature.”

The councilwoman further argued that the honorary naming could arrive at a perfect time, as the airport undergoes a $1.2 billion, four-year renovation, as per the Tennessean.

Though Hurt is facing resistance on her crusade, she had success earlier this year in petitioning the Metro Council to rename a stretch of Charlotte Avenue after Martin Luther King Jr.

"When I was growing up, and even now, my mother always talked about giving flowers while they live. Why do we have to wait until people are deceased until we can truly honor or recognize them?" Hurt had further argued, per the outlet.

“Nashville creates stars and Oprah was one of them,” the councilwoman told News Channel 5 of her quest. “We need to recognize this.”

According to the outlet, the Nashville Airport Authority board is scheduled to meet on Dec. 19.

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Over 14.1 million travelers frequent the Nashville air hub each year, as per the airport’s history page, with over 450 flights departing daily to over 50 nonstop markets.

Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak

Three random strangers help mom struggling with toddlers at airport

Three random strangers stepped in to help a mom flying alone with her two young children.

Becca Kinsey shared the heartwarming story on Facebook, describing the “amazing women” who lent her a helping hand when she was traveling home from Disneyworld with her 2-year-old and 5-year-old.

“We were standing in line in security, on the verge of tears because Wyatt was screaming and James was exhausted. Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says ‘here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!’” Kinsey wrote in her now viral post.

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“Wyatt fell asleep and I was trying to carry everyone’s carry-on when another mom jumps out of her place in line and says ‘hand me everything, I’ve got it.’ When I said thank you to both of them they said ‘don’t you worry, we’re going to make sure you get on that flight.’ The second woman takes evvvverything and helps me get it through security and, on top of all that, she grabs all of it and walks us to the gate to make sure we get on the flight,” she continued.

“To top it all off, Wyatt starts to scream at take off before he finally falls back to sleep. After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says ‘you look like you need a break’ and holds Wyatt for the rest of the flight AND walks him all the way to baggage claim, hands him to Blake, hugs me and says ‘merry Christmas!!’” Kinsey wrote.

The mom also shared an adorable photo of the woman on the plane holding her sleeping son.

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The post, which was shared Dec. 7, has received over 880,000 likes and 128,000 shares. Kinsey also updated the post to encourage everyone to “pay it forward” and make a donation to an organization called Kidd’s Kids, which raises money to send “children with life-threatening and life-altering conditions on a 5 day trip to Disney World so they can have a chance to forget at least some of the day to day stressors and get to experience a little magic!!” according to Kinsey.

$2,190 had been raised as of Tuesday afternoon.

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.

Mystery radar blips appear over Illinois and Kentucky and nobody knows why

The origin of mysterious blips that appeared across radar in southern Illinois and western Kentucky Monday night may have come from military aircraft, but nearby military bases say they had nothing to do with it.

The storm-like blips left the National Weather Service in a state of confusion since it wasn't raining in the region, the Courier and Press newspaper in Evansville, Ind., reported.

Social media users theorized that the culprit could have been debris from passing meteors or even a flock of birds, the report said.

A local TV meteorologist tweeted out that an unnamed pilot at the Evansville Regional Airport in Indiana said the fog was chaff – radar-jamming material sometimes released during training exercises – from a military C-130 aircraft.

"Information from a pilot appears to confirm that chaff was the mysterious radar echo that traversed #tristatewx late Monday afternoon/evening. Pilot was told by EVV Air Traffic Control that chaff was released by a military C130 northwest of Evansville. @NWSPaducah," WEHT-TV meteorologist Wayne Hart tweeted.

If the blips were indeed chaff from a military plane, no military installations in the area are claiming it as theirs.

“Whatever aircraft it was, it was not a Scott Air Force Base craft," Master Sgt. Thomas Doscher said Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Fort Campbell in Kentucky said he didn’t know any operation involving a C-130. He added that if such a plane did originate from the Army base, it would have been involved in a secret special forces exercise.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Evansville airport did not immediately respond to Fox News requests for comment early Wednesday.

Nashville airport travelers stop to sing national anthem for children of fallen service members, viral video shows

Travelers at Nashville's busy airport over the weekend stopped to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” paying their respects to a plane full of children whose parents had died in combat.

“At the Nashville airport I walked out into the concourse to this scene @americanairlines was flying a plane full of children who had lost a parent in combat to Disneyworld on an all expenses paid trip and they threw a party for them at the gate,” Jen Tringale wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

"But when they announced them over the loud speaker and they lined up to board the plane the whole airport literally stopped and sang the national anthem with military present in salute. Most every person standing around, myself included was bawling at the sight of these kids and spouses who have paid so great a price for our country. To see all of this at Christmas time was so humbling.

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“Seeing the general public in an airport stand still to honor these kids was simply beautiful,” Tringale wrote.

The social media post had earned around 9,000 impressions and was shared approximately 6,100 times as of Monday evening.

Matt Richardson is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @MRichardson713.

Southwest Airlines flight rolls off runway at California airport

Southwest Airilnes tweeted that they have resumed operations to and from Burbank, Calif., after a plane flying into Bob Hope Airport from Oakland rolled off the runway during landing Thursday morning. It was raining heavily in the area at the time.

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According to reports, the plane initiated its emergency stop system once it rolled off the runway at Bob Hope Airport, also known as Hollywood Burbank Airport. There were 117 people onboard.

The FAA confirmed the incident on Twitter, saying the plane came to rest in the Engineered Material Arresting System, a bed to quickly stop aircraft, at the end of the runway.

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Southwest Airlines said in a statement to Fox News that there were no reported injuries.

“Initial reports indicate that Southwest airlines flight 278 from Oakland to Burbank came to a stop at the end of a runway upon arrival into Burbank. There are no reports of injuries among our 112 Customers and five Crewmembers. We are working to get additional details,” the statement read.

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The Hollywood Burbank Airport remained open. Runway 8/26 was closed following the event, the airport told Fox News.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

American Airlines contradicts family’s claim that mom was left sitting in wheelchair overnight

Citing newly reviewed security footage, American Airlines is suggesting that an elderly passenger and her family weren’t being truthful when they claimed the carrier’s staff left her sitting in an airport terminal overnight.

Claude Coltea, the son of 67-year-old Olimpia Warsaw, had originally told CBS Chicago that his mother was left unattended in a terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on Friday, Nov. 30 after her flight home to Detroit was canceled, and a porter assigned to assist her with her hotel arrangements simply abandoned her at the end of his shift.

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“I walked with her all the way to her gate,” Coltea had told CBS Chicago of dropping his mother off at the gate following the funeral of Warsaw’s ex-husband, before he himself left to catch his own flight home. “I confirmed with the gate agent that the flight was on time. Everything was ok. She said, ‘Yup, all’s fine. We’ll take good care of your mom.’”

According to Coltea, the airport porter assigned to his mother by the airline offered Warsaw a hotel room for the night after her flight was canceled. However, the porter would not take her to the hotel and, due to her trouble communicating, Coltea said she could not find transportation to get there on her own.

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American Airlines met with the family and launched an investigation into the incident, and confirmed in a statement to Fox News on Sunday that they had refunded Warsaw for her trip.

On Monday, however, the carrier came forward to contradict Coltea’s claims, saying in a statement that “approximately 45 minutes” had passed before someone came to retrieve Warsaw from the airport. The airline also released a timeline of events, citing CCTV footage and call logs.

According to American Airlines’ timeline, Warsaw’s flight to Detroit was canceled at 11:20 p.m., and she was issued a voucher for a hotel and a meal at 11:36. A wheelchair attendant retrieved her and phoned relatives, after which the attendant dropped Warsaw on an upper level of the terminal at 12:30 a.m.

American Airlines says security footage captured Warsaw leave her wheelchair and use a walker to go outside and smoke a cigarette, twice, before a man and a woman in an SUV arrived to pick her up at 1:13 a.m.

The airline said the footage also showed Warsaw sitting back in her wheelchair for a moment while the female relative took a picture of her before walking off to speak with police.

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The airline had not released the CCTV footage as of Tuesday morning.

"Ms. Warsaw was dropped off in the terminal at 12:30 a.m. CT on Dec. 1, and a family member arrived at the airport to pick her up at 1:13 a.m. CT,” the airline said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Coltea did not return “several” requests for additional comments from the Post, the outlet reported.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

American Airlines passenger left in wheelchair overnight at airport after flight was canceled

A 67-year-old woman was reportedly left in a wheelchair overnight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after her American Airlines flight to Detroit, Mich., was canceled.

Olimpia Warsaw had flown into Illinois to attend a relative’s funeral. After the service, Warsaw was to catch a flight back home to Michigan, her son Claude Coltea told CBS Chicago.

Warsaw, who has trouble communicating and walking due to Parkinson’s and diabetes, uses a wheelchair. Coltea said he took his mother up to her flight gate and spoke to the agent there to confirm his mom would be taken care of.

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“I walked with [my mom] all the way to her gate,” he said to CBS. “I confirmed with the gate agent that the flight was on time. Everything was ok. She said, ‘Yup, all’s fine. We’ll take good care of your mom’.”

However, Warsaw did not make it back to Detroit that night.

According to Coltea, the airport porter assigned to his mother by the airline offered Warsaw a hotel room for the night after her flight was canceled. However, they would not take her to the hotel and, due to her trouble communicating, she could not find transportation, CBS reported.

The porter then left her at the airport after his shift ended, the outlet reported.

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After Warsaw did not arrive in Detroit, her family began calling American Airlines and the airport to track her down. Hours later, security found her still in the wheelchair and same clothes she had been wearing the previous day.

The family is now looking for answers from American Airlines as to how their mother was left.

American Airlines said in a statement to Fox News they have launched an investigation into the matter.

“We are very concerned about this, and have launched an investigation with our Chicago team and the vendor we utilize that provides wheelchair services at Chicago O’Hare.

“We have spoken with the family multiple times, and met with them both in Chicago and Detroit yesterday. Our team has already refunded back the fare for this trip,” the statement read.

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The airline confirmed to Fox News the woman was offered a hotel voucher, but are looking into why she was not transported there.

This is not the only problem the family said Warsaw had with the airline during the trip. American Airlines reportedly lost her luggage on the flight in, forcing her to miss part of the funeral while she went to get clothes to wear.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

George Bush airport pays tribute to late president

George Bush Intercontinental Airport has paid tribute to the former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30 at age 94, on social media.

“Our hearts are heavy this morning. Thoughts and prayers are with the Bush family, Houston and all of America,” reps for the Texas air hub wrote on Twitter and Facebook early Saturday morning, sharing a photo of a statue of the late president inside the airport.

Shortly after, Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz released a longer statement in honor of 41 that reads as follows:

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“After serving courageously in World War II and attending Yale University, [President George H.W. Bush] could have chosen any number of varied careers, each of them almost assuredly leading to a luxury filled workday and dramatic economic success. But the President chose instead a more difficult and winding path, one traveling past the oil fields of West Texas, through the halls of CIA headquarters in Virginia, over the Great Wall of China itself and eventually, ending at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C,” Diaz wrote on Facebook.

“I personally believe that this adventurous streak of his stemmed from an 'aviator’s spirit.' After all, he was already a Naval Aviator three days prior to his 19th birthday, the youngest to accomplish the feat up to that time,” he continued. “Seventy-two years later and George Herbert Walker Bush would still be celebrating his love for all things skyward, marking his 90th birthday with one final skydive.”

“George Bush Intercontinental Airport was named for the 41st President of the United States for this very reason, because he had a full appreciation for the various ways in which the field of aviation could enrich the cultural lives of individuals and maximize the economic potential of entire nations,” Diaz continued.

55595 01: George Bush waves to a crowd of supporters November 5, 1988 in the USA. Bush and his running mate Dan Quayle defeat Michael Dukakis in the Presidential election. His efforts to reduce the deficit failed while creating the lowest growth period since the Great Depression. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/Liaison)

“During his inaugural address in 1989, President Bush said, 'We meet on democracy’s front porch, a good place to talk as neighbors and as friends.' Mister President, your neighbors and friends would like to take a moment to thank you for an amazing conversation.”

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In April 1997, the Houston Intercontinental Airport was renamed George Bush Intercontinental Airport in honor of the leader, thanks to the efforts of the Houston city council, United Press International reported at the time.

Today, George Bush Intercontinental Airport is believed to be the tenth busiest airport in the nation, TripSavvy reports, with major carriers United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines servicing the hub every day.

Born in 1924, the 41st president was known for his gentlemanly demeanor, dedication to traditional American values, willingness to take on foreign despots like Iraq's Hussein and Panama's Manuel Noriega, and presiding over the breakup of the Soviet Union.

He is survived by five children, including former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. A sixth child died in early childhood. The late former president also is survived by 17 grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak