Two approaches to air safety

Announcements this week by two major airlines show that approaches to customer service and safety can be as different as Poland and Britain. Poland’s state-run LOT airline has a simple solution to the Y2K problem: it’s cancelling all flights on Jan. 1, 2000. Andrzej Wysocki, LOT’s director of public relations, emphasized that the flights are being grounded because of “light demand”. To prove his point, he said that in recent years Poland’s national airline has canceled up to 90 percent of its flights on Christmas and New Year’s Day because of low demand, and would do the same for Y2K Day.

According to Mr. Wysocki, the airline is “well prepared for Y2K. It simply does not pay to fly when you have six people on board.” True enough, but cancellations like this don’t engender confidence in this passenger.

Meanwhile, British Airways is to be commended for attempting to address the old problem of the safety of infants and small children travelling by air. The airline is introducing what it claims is the world’s first airline seat designed for infants and toddlers under age two. The seats will be introduced on longhaul flights in all classes beginning Aug. 1, 1999.

“Parts told us that there was a real need for some kind of special seating for toddlers who are often too large to lie comfortably in airline ‘carrycots’ or sit on their parent’s knee,” said Martin George, British Airways director of marketing.

Here’s hoping that other airlines, LOT included, follow BA’s example. A careful consideration of the safety of babies and young children on airplanes is long overdue. If they could just do something about that stale air…