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The Airlines' Dangerous Descent--and How to Reclaim Our Skies

by William J. McGee

Pub Date: July 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-208837-6
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Award-winning Consumer Reports travel journalist McGee (Creative Writing/Hofstra Univ.) delivers a workmanlike tell-all about the airline industry.

“[I]t pains me to see what’s happened to what was at one time the exhilarating experience of boarding a flight,” writes the author. “Today, commercial flying sucks. And everyone knows it.” Indeed. Although he worked for three different airlines between 1985 and 1992 (all of which were “financially liquidated”), he derives most of the book from his interviews with, among others, flight attendants, congressmen, an FAA whistleblower and family members of an individual who died in a plane crash. McGee explains how the shortcomings of airlines can and do cost consumers more than a comfortable flight; they result in unsafe conditions. In his well-researched narrative, the author exposes the common practice of outsourcing repairs, which can result in crashes because the companies doing the repairs are not as competent or as tightly regulated. Furthermore, in at least one incident in which shoddy repairs resulted in a crash and a lawsuit, the big-name airline attempted to protect its brand by dumping the blame on the smaller company. The smaller company subsequently restarted operations under a new name. McGee’s exploration of this lack of accountability is intriguing and often damning for the companies cited. Eventually, however, the book becomes repetitive. The author’s rant against customer service, though certainly justified, is far from original, and he often rehashes his valid points with excess explanation and anecdotes.

Informative but not terribly entertaining.