“Fuel Me Once, Shame on You”: Airline Truly Serves Its Passengers

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"Comtel Air" ad parody: "Fuel Me Once, Shame on You ..."

Because what we really needed right now was a truly iconic example of "too-big-to-fail" corporate ripoffs.... (Graphical note: image has been crudely altered from original corporate ad. As you might expect.)

You may have already read about this top story from this past week, but it’s worth thinking through all of its delicious cultural significance.  I’m going ask a poll question on this one, so please do read through the the end.  To get you ready, I’ll preview the question for you up here.

Poll Question: “The main difference between what the Comtel charter airline did to its passengers and what the financial services industry did to the people of the United States is ________:”

The Associated Press reported:

Hundreds of passengers traveling from India to Britain were stranded for six hours in Vienna when their Comtel Air flight stopped for fuel on Tuesday. The charter service asked them to kick in more than 20,000 pounds ($31,000) to fund the rest of the flight to Birmingham, England.  …

Britain’s Channel 4 news broadcast video showing a Comtel cabin crew member telling passengers: “We need some money to pay the fuel, to pay the airport, to pay everything we need. If you want to go to Birmingham, you have to pay.”

Some passengers said they were sent off the plane to cash machines in Vienna to raise the money.

“We all got together, took our money out of purses — 130 pounds ($205),” said Reena Rindi, who was aboard with her daughter. “Children under two went free, my little one went free because she’s under two. If we didn’t have the money, they were making us go one by one outside, in Vienna, to get the cash out.”

Back in Amritsar, India, 180 passengers on another Comtel flight were told that they had to pay the equivalent of $200 more apiece or their flight they would not take off for Birmingham, England.  Most of them apparently took the option of booking flights on other airlines.  It is unknown what happened to those who did not do so.  It is the speculation of The Orange Juice Blog that the plane never took off — or, if it did, that it landed in Afghanistan.

Sometimes the world hands you a metaphor like this and you just want to spend all day watching it and stroking it as if it were a sleek and purring Siamese Cat.  So let’s not let a metaphor like this go to waste.  Here’s the poll — and I can’t get the anonymous reply feature to work, so you’ll have to sign your responses in comments below:

“The main difference between what the Comtel charter airline did to its passengers and what the financial services industry did to the people of the United States is that ________”

(a) the plane was not in mid-air at the time the demand was made

(b) the passengers probably received snacks on the first leg of the flight

(c) $200, by contrast, is relatively inexpensive

(d) the wealthiest were not exempted from paying their share

(e) the airline will apparently have the good form to go out of business

(f) all of the above

(g) none of the above

(h) other — answer provided in a comment below


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)