Corporate BS trumps heroism?

Posted on May 30, 2009
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On Sunday, April 19, an armed man hijacked a Canjet aircraft with 182 passengers and crew, in Jamaica. The flight, operated for charter flight packager, Transat, was on its way from Halifax to Cuba. According to a passenger I spoke to, it stopped in Jamaica to pick up extra passengers.

The event was resolved without any loss of life. The story almost immediately disappeared from Canadian media.

According to the passenger I spoke to, one Canjet flight attendant, with a gun to her head, convinced the hijacker to release all of the passengers in return for their cash.

Why, I wondered, was this flight attendant not being feted nationally and internationally for the hero she seems to be? The crew of the US Airways flight that landed without loss of life in the Hudson River was on all the news and talk shows and introduced at the NFL Superbowl.

When you think of it, a flight attendant who negotiates the safety of her passengers is more heroic. What Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and his crew did was amazing. They were also heroic after the water landing.  They worked bravely and diligently to ensure every passenger got out of the sinking plane.

There is an old joke about a passenger thanking a pilot for saving her life with an emergency landing. The captain replies, “My primary objective, madam, was to save my life. Saving yours was a side effect.”

What the Canjet flight attendant did was not to save her life but the lives of her passengers. Her action was a choice which is a key ingredient of heroism. True heroism includes choice and sacrifice. If the accounts I hear are true, and one media report quoted another passenger as verifying what I was told, that flight attendant is a prime example of a hero.

According to a statement posted on the Canjet website, the crew does not wish to discuss the event at present. You can see that at:

I seriously doubt that is the whole story. The passenger I talked to told me the crew had been told not to say anything. A media friend told me the same thing.

It certainly makes sense from a legal, corporate, bureaucratic viewpoint.

The industry has a much larger incentive to have the story fade away quickly than to honour, celebrate and fete a hero or heroes. They don’t want potential passengers thinking about the possibility of physical danger connected to their service.

Lawyers always advise clients to say nothing when civil suits and liabilty could conceivably be involved. Insurance companies do the same.

Governments and bureaucrats are highly motivated to suppress information, discussion and potential criticism when any official system fails.

So, in my opinion, corporate BS and ass covering are most probably significant factors in why we Canadians are not celebrating a heart warming and inspiring act of heroism.

In the US, this event would spawn a movie. The man I spoke to, Walter Comeau, a VIA Rail sleeping car porter, is the father of the bride in a wedding party of 20 aboard flight 918. Imagine having your daughter and your mother and much of your family in such a situation.

The corporate and bureaucratic handling of this event reeks like Halifax Harbour to me. I think the Canadian mass media need to work much harder to pry this story loose.

Incidentally, when you wonder what effect cuts of news staff in the media has on you, the neglect of this story is one possible example.



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