All My Thoughts Are With the Passengers, Crew, and their Families of Flight QZ8501

AirAsia QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore is missing with 162 on board. This is a ~ 2 hour 20 minute, 854 mile flight, operated by Indonesia AirAsia.

The plane lost contact with air traffic control in Jakarta at around 7:24am (local time) while over the Java Sea. The flight is presumed down, and speculation is that the problems faced by the Airbus A320 (registration PK-AXC) were weather-related.

Watching coverage this morning I’m struck, as in all aviation disasters, how little information we actually have yet how many people are anxious to appear on television and speculate wildly.

After thinking about the passengers and crew onboard, their families, and the staff of the airline my next two thoughts were:

  • US news outlets are running headlines like “Another Missing Plane” (emphasis mine). An AirAsia flight without any Americans onboard makes big news in the US precisely because air disasters are so rare.
  • Is it wrong that one of my first thoughts was that I’m glad the AirAsia flight wasn’t headed to or from Malaysia, that Malaysia has had enough bad luck in 2014? (That it wasn’t flying to Malaysia shouldn’t minimize the tragedy for everyone affected.)

I have no idea what the real causes or issues were involved at this point, beyond news reporting. There’s plenty of historical problems with aviation in the region (until 2010 nearly all Indonesian carriers were banned from flying to the EU), but I have full confidence in AirAsia procedures. The carrier, the former Awair, has an outstanding record.

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, 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. yep, no Seppo’s on board will warrant no action from the US. Why would they care. No Seppo’s.

  2. After the AA turnback with injuries when the pax couldn’t take any more, you have to wonder how much the metal can take. I keep thinking of two personal flying experiences in the past ten years: A NW pilot who flew into a thunderstorm because he later told us the company restricted the turnback or flyaround discretion, resulting in a pounding that had pax screaming and praying loudly for two hours. Also an Aloha BUR-HNL in tiny 737 with turbulence so bad the tail seemed to be coming around in front for three hours until we landed at a terrifying 45-degree angle to diversion Kauai runway because HNL was closed due to worst windstorm of decade. In that case there was no option to turn back or divert mid-Pacific for two hours. I’m wary of another AS 737-800 flight SAN-HNL next month even though I’ve gotten through turbulence on AS so bad it felt like a jackhammer was attached to plane. No jumbo service to HNL from this area any longer, just 757’s which are older than the 800.

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