I Have Nothing to Add About the Malaysia Airlines 777 Tragedy

A couple of readers have emailed me to ask why I haven’t written anything about the Malaysia Airlines MH370 Boeing 777-200ER flight that disappeared enroute between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

There are two reasons, and I think both are straightforward.

  • I really do not have much to add to the discussion, that others better qualified to speak aren’t already saying.
  • It’s really hard and I don’t do emotion well, let alone in public on the internet.

I am not an expert on the mechanics of aviation, on the engineering details of how planes fly or don’t.

I don’t have better sources that give me insight into what’s going on before the rest of the media gets their information (although there are of course plenty of ill-informed commenters on television talking about this).

I think Scott Mayerowitz had a nice piece describing many of the things that could have happened (some, obviously, far less likely than others).

Last year I had to give a talk on miles and points immediately after the Asiana crash upon landing at San Francisco.

Here’s how I described that experience at the time:

All of a sudden the kinds of things I was going to be talking about seemed so utterly mundane.How to save a few dollars on airfare? How to get your rental car for less? At some level, on that day, who cares?

Very few people in the audience were aware of the Asiana crash at the time, they had been holed away in talks and events. People generally put their phones down, they weren’t getting news alerts.

But I felt like it was important to lead off my talk with the news of the crash, acknowledging how so much of what I was planning to talk about seemed small, and then spending a few minutes talking about why I travel, what I get out of it, how saving money or having greater comfort when I travel made it possible and likely that I would travel more, and that the time I spent flying Asiana, the time in South Korea, rather than feeling small because of the subject matter it actually made me feel more connected to the tragedy. There are plenty of terrible things that happen in the world, each and every day, yet this one really affected me.

When Asiana crashed.. I’ve flown Asiana, many times. I’ve booked awards for clients and for friends on Asiana — many, many times.

And so too with Malaysia Airlines. I have an upcoming booking with them myself. I have confidence in them, please don’t misunderstand. But it hits close to home and not just because there were real people – travelers – aboard the flight. But I’m neither a eulogist nor a philosopher.

Hopefully that’s a window into my thinking. When I first heard about the incident, I was shaken by it and felt like I wanted to acknowledge it in some way. The truth is, I did not know how in a way that didn’t seem trite and derivative.

All I’ll say then for now is that my thoughts are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew of the flight.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thank you … thank you for your heartfelt message, and thank you for not pretending to have insight into something you don’t have insight into. Kudos.

  2. I personally believe that speculating more than the actual facts which are available adds nothing. Let us instead hope for a miracle for the passengers and flight crew aboard the aircraft in question.

  3. Well said, Gary. And thank you. I don’t think people ought to question why you have not posted about the incident (people cope in various ways), but I relate to your two reasons well. Thank you for a thoughtful post and acknowledgement.

  4. Well said, and always remember that this page is your outlet after all. If you don’t feel comfortable addressing something, then don’t!

  5. I happen to be an airline pilot and an avid reader of your blog. You have risen even more in my estimation by this post.

  6. Good post. When I heard about the crash I was actually on the way to BKK airport and one of the first planes I saw there was a Malaysia 737, which I flew last month. It certainly hit me harder than other crashes. Deepest prayers for mh370.

  7. Kudos to you…. some other here who like to publish the sensationalist (and often simply made up) headlines could learn a thing or two.

  8. I appreciate your not adding to speculation or drawing lessons before the facts are known – if they ever will be known, in this case.

  9. Kudos for acknowledging, both to yourself and us readers, where you add the most value rather than pretending otherwise.

  10. thank you for this. it restores my faith in this community when people take time to reflect on things that affect us all.

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