Manta
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UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:08 am

Greetings,

I've noticed on a few recent UAL flights out of ORD, channel 9 has either been music or not available at all - just silence.

On one particular flight I asked one of the F/A's if they could find out why Ch.9 wasn't operating. She returned and said the pilot can't turn it on.

I was wondering if that is normal practice on UAL. Is Ch.9 supposed to be ATC all the time, or do some pilots just not want you listening to their conversations with ATC?

It seems like a gamble every time I fly. I quickly check to see if Ch.9 is operational, and then once it is, I can sit back and enjoy the flight.

I'm just curious why Ch.9 isn't just set to ATC all the time and locked.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks,

--Scott
 
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PA110
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:13 am

Channel 9 has always been "at the pilot's discretion". It has been available on most flights I've taken, and I travel UA quite often. There was one flight from CDG to SFO where Channel nine was switched to Jazz selections midway through the flight (offered in the inflight magazine as an alternate choice on Channel 9). Some Jazz fanatic must have begged the captain to switch.

It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
 
roseflyer
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:13 am

Channel 9 is available on the captain's discretion. Most flights have it, and many pilots will come on the PA and tell you that it is activated and tell you the flight number, or explain it in some way. It is a fun thing to have, but it is not a guarantee.

There are obvious reasons why Ch. 9 shouldn't be available on all flights. For instance on 9/11, it was inappropriate for passengers to be listening to ATC and all the issues happening. It is a nice feature to have, but sometimes pilots feel that they don't want it activated, sometimes it is inappropriate, and finally it doesn't work all the time along with many IFE systems.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
RyanL1011
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:49 am

I had the chance to listen to "From the cockpit" on United back in the early 90s on a DC-10 flight from DEN to LAX on United, I LOVED it! I wish every aircraft out there had that capability.
 
kaputt
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:07 pm

A few years back i had the opportunity to get into a united 737 cockpit before the flight. and the pilot has the option to turn on the "channel 9" if he wants to.
Carpe the Diem...Seize The Carp
 
ordflyer
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:08 pm

As others have said, it's "at captain's discretion" It's probably been turned on for about 80-90% of my UA flights over the years. It's a great feature, and something nice that does set UAL apart from the IFE of other airlines. I haven't come across many pilots that actively don't want it on. If its not on it usually seems to be a case of either being broken, or they forgot to flip the switch up in the cockpit.
To ensure the maximum possibility of having Channel 9 on, if I see a pilot before the flight I'll try and mention something like "will channel 9 be availalbe today for the flight?"...I've never been turned down yet. After flights when channel 9 was on I'll make it a point to say thank you for having it on and how much it improves the flight experience for me. I just like to make sure the pilots know that channel 9 is desired and appreciated by the pax.
 
Feroze
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:17 pm

On a flight from SIN-HKG in 2003, the pilot and ATC in Hong Kong were having problems. ATC was routing the a/c direct to a specific 5-letter intersection, but the pilot could understand which it was. After four attempts (with ATC getting angrier and angrier) this led to a phonetic spelling of said intersection and the a/c changed heading. At this point, Ch 9 was switched off....

Feroze
 
Carpethead
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:33 pm

I have experienced very few domestic flights without Ch. 9. Some int'l flights don't have Channel 9 turned on, particularly the 744s.
Yesterday, I flew from ORD-KIX and the captain had Ch. 9 on all the way. It was only the second time I flew through Russian airspace and the UA pilots had a difficult time picking up the Russian ATC's English. One of the transiting traffic had to relay some of the instructions. Not sure if it wasn't loud enough or just plain incomprehensible English, but I seemed to be able to understand it.
 
lincoln
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:13 pm

I've only flown on IFE-equipped UA aircraft twice as far as I can remember...Both were earlier this year. The T7 LAX-ORD it was just silence, the 744 ORD-LAX was silence. I pulled out the mag and noticed the "captains discretion" note so I flagged down a FA (I think it was before we even pushed) and stated to ask her "Do you know..." and she interrupted "No, we've already talked to the captain. He's not going to turn on Channel 9 for this flight" -- It implies she gets that question often  Smile

A bit of a bummer, to say the least. Though that was probably the best in flight service I've ever received in Y... and it came close to what I remember from F on NW (the (great) snack box was nothing by comparison, but the beverage service was...)

I was on an AS flight (either a 73x or a 75x, I'm pretty sure it was PDX-ONT) several years back and found the AS equivalent of Channel 9... (maybe it was EX-UA? They certainly didn't say anything about it). Very cool -- I've hoped to 'stomble' across it on every flight since.

Lincoln
[If UA actually flew where I wanted to go I probably would change preferred airlines. Alas, there is but one way in and out of PLN.]
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ERJ145LR
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:37 pm

is there like a single switch in the cockpit that turns on and off ch.9??
 
BIGBlack
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:46 pm

I know a lot of people that get nervous when they shut that off LOL
Someone special in the air
 
ordflyer
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 2:06 pm

is there like a single switch in the cockpit that turns on and off ch.9??
Yep it looks like that is the case
"In the cockpit, somebody has to switch on the "observer's audio" switch, then turn up the volume on the 1st observer's audio select panel."
http://www.airliners.net/discussions/tech_ops/read.main/374/
 
CaptainTim
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 3:07 pm

It isn't on all the time, it has ahppened to me on many occasions and now befroe every flight, i head up to the cockpit and take a few pictures and ask if CH. 9 could be turned on.

the captain flips a switch and turns a dial clockwise to full

this is found in the radio section of the cockpit right under the dial that changes the frequency of the radio.

and yes.. on some rare occasions.. its very stupid jazz music or jsut plain silence.~~ its a pain when its off...
Gulfstream Planeview Cockpit: "why have hundreds of buttons when a CCD does the same thing and more?"
 
nisson
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 3:24 pm

has any other airline ever offer this service (in the past)???????????????
 
uclax
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 4:26 pm

AA had it until the late 80s on their 767s and DC10s, along with flight deck video cameras connected to cabin screens turned on for takeoff and landing on their DC10s.
...those who wait for the Lord�s help...rise up as if they had eagles� wings Isaiah 40:31
 
je89_w
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:53 pm

I've heard ATC communications on another airline when I was younger, can't quite remember.

Some of my previous UA flights had Channel 9 switched off, was quite a bummer.
 
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n229nw
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:28 pm

There was one flight from CDG to SFO where Channel nine was switched to Jazz selections midway through the flight

Hmmm, if that were me at that point (esp. if the captain says "Oh shit!" before he/she suddenly switches it to jazz), that's when I start to see my life flash before my eyes...  Wink/being sarcastic

For real, I'm flying United in a few days. Looking forward to channel 9...
All Glory to the Hypnotoad!
 
FrndlySkys777
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:41 pm

Ah Channel 9, one of the biggest surprises and most rewarding experience of my first United flights. The experience only gets better when you can see other traffic! Anyway, it should also be noted that sometimes there is no traffic. I remember on a recent LAX-HNL flight there were only occasional callings on Channel 9 over the Pacific but once you're in touch with Honolulu Center you hear all kinds of calls.
 
QuestAir
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:11 am

I've listened to channel 9 before, and that's one reason why I try to fly UA. I enjoy hearing "United xxx, turn right and maintain heading 190" and then immediately thereafter feel the airplane turning right.
'Do we carry rich people on our flights? Yes, I flew on one this morning and I�m very rich.' - Michael O'Leary
 
ORDINDUAFLYER
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:50 am

I'm a Ch9 junkie... In 2004 I'd guess that about 90%+ of my mainline flights had Ch9 turned on. I've asked a few times when it wasn't on, and the answer was (from the FA) typically that 'this captain never turns it on' or something along those lines of the captain choosing not to turn it on. I've also heard a couple times that the FAs don't like it when the pax are more "up to date" on flight stats (delays, etc) than they are because of Ch9...I've not thought to ask any of the FAs I know about it, so I'm not sure how accurate that is. Also...with a transatlantic flight, sometimes they'll turn it to the jazz in the middle of the ocean when ATC slows down and then forget to turn it back.
 
BH346
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:20 am

I love Channel 9. We had it on ORD-KIX and it is an interesting route to listen in on since you go through Russian airspace. I spent most of the flight listening to Channel 9 and watching the moving map. However, on the return, KIX-ORD, they had it off.
Northwest Airlines - Some People Just Know How to Fly
 
drerx7
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:46 am

Channel 9 is enough of a reason to fly United for me. Now that I have enough OnePass miles I can start flying other carriers again--UA has always been a choice of mine. Too bad no other USD carriers offer the service.
Third Coast born, means I'm Texas raised
 
Feroze
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:49 am

BH346,

Who had it off? Channel 9 and the moving map?

Sorry, one-track mind!

Feroze
 
ckfred
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:01 am

IIRC, AA started to disable the cockpit cameras on the DC-10s after the ORD crash in 1979.

A friend of mine who flies for AA said that the ATC channel was removed after the air phones were installed. The belief was that people might misinterpret radio transmissions, whether for that flight or others, and then start calling loved ones, the media, or in the case of delays, AA management or the FAA.

The pilots also have a switch to disable the air phones on the widebody fleet.
 
ORDZW
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:03 am

I agree with FrndlySkys777 - There are some times when there really isn't much going on, particularly over an ocean. My favorite time to listen is taxiing for takeoff and the approach for landing. This is especially interesting when approaching ORD, since it is non-stop communication - It really makes you realize how busy Chicago airspace is! On longer flights, such as LAX-ORD, I will listen to Channel 9 on while on the ground until we are transferred to the center, then watch the movie, then tune back for Chicago approach.

Now if only UAX could be equipped with this capability...
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BH346
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:07 am

Feroze: on the return flight, only Channel 9 was disabled. As far as I know, the moving map is always available. Sorry for the confusion.
Northwest Airlines - Some People Just Know How to Fly
 
nucsh
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:39 am

I have never been on a flight where I could listen to ATC, and I fly at least 3 times a year. Mainly on USAirways, sometimes on Delta. Do they normally have it or have I just been incredibly unlucky?
If landing is about "kissing" the ground, you just about raped it.
 
desertjets
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:44 am

Ch.9 is interesting, but can be downright boring while en-route. You may have to wait at least 30 seconds until you have any transmission. During cruise it can be useful to flip to to get an idea of where you are. If you are being handled by Kansas City center you have a good idea of where you are. On my recent UA flights it was only on half of them. I didn't really bother listening to it on one of them as I was asleep for most of it. But the two flights where it was on the captain did mention it during their pre-flight annoucement. And on one of the flights the captain was passing out A320 trading cards to the kids as they left the plane.

Ch9 is best when you are on the ground or on approach. While inbound to PHX there was a lot of chatter as ABQ center got everyone lined up for arrival into PHX. And on my return red-eye into ORD you would be surprised how much activity there was on approach control into ORD at 4:30 in the morning.
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Feroze
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:46 am

BH346,

No confusion. Apologies for my Brit humour...

Feroze
 
PresRDC
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 7:00 am

I know for a fact that AA had both the "From the Flight Deck" audio on the DC-10s and 767-200s and the cockpitt cams on the DC-10s as late as the summer of 1987.
 
ordflyer
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 7:02 am

I have never been on a flight where I could listen to ATC, and I fly at least 3 times a year. Mainly on USAirways, sometimes on Delta. Do they normally have it or have I just been incredibly unlucky?
ATC audio (channel 9) is exclusive to United, you won't hear it on USAirways or Delta. On United flights, channel 9 is turned on more often than not, so chances are good that if you fly United a few times you will be on a flight that has ATC audio on.
 
frequentflyer5
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 8:28 am

I recently flew UA 881 ORD to NRT and 882 NRT to ORD. Both ways with no ch 9. I asked the FA's if they would ask the captain to turn it on but nothing happened. Despite the pleasant flight this was disappointing!

 
FriendlySkies
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 8:41 am

Ah Channel 9, one of the biggest surprises and most rewarding experience of my first United flights. The experience only gets better when you can see other traffic! Anyway, it should also be noted that sometimes there is no traffic. I remember on a recent LAX-HNL flight there were only occasional callings on Channel 9 over the Pacific but once you're in touch with Honolulu Center you hear all kinds of calls.

That reminds me of a flight I took last summer ORD-TPA on Ted. I heard the captain and ATC talking about a C-5 & KC-10 in refueling position nearby...I looked out my window and saw it! First time I'd ever seen a plane being refueled in midair, was the highlight of my flight. Big grin
 
flyorski
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 9:26 am

About a year ago I flew UAL from SJO-GUA and then to LAX. From SJO to GUA the captain did not turn on channel 9. Then, when we crossed the U.S. border, the captain announced he was turning it on. Makes me wonder if he didn't want it on outside of American Airspace.
"None are more hopelessly enslaved, than those who falsly believe they are free" -Goethe
 
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PA110
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 9:36 am

Most captains elect to turn it on. On transatlantic flights, you get to hear the transatlantic crossing instructions being given for the period the aircraft is outside radar control. It is really fascinating. You also get to hear pilots chitchatting amongst themselves when they come within visual range of each other on the westbound crossing. A BA pilot contacted an OS pilot asking for his email. He apparently took an excellent air-to-air photo and wanted to send it to the OS pilot. Everyone on board a UA aircraft within range got the email address.

Although not funny at the time, a UA shuttle flight pulled into SFO and were assigned a parking spot that normally requires a tow. There was nobody there to meet the plane. You could hear the captain calling around on the company frequency to get someone to tow the aircraft. Several folks with UA radios couldn't help jumping on the air and making wisecracks.
It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
 
venuscat2
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 9:45 am

How come UA doesn't have "From the Flight Deck" on the 737, 757, or 767?
http://www.discmarketing.com/UA/249/channel_grid.html
 
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PA110
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 9:53 am

Venuscat2,
I wouldn't go by that reference. I've listened to Ch9 on all aircraft types including 737, 757 and 767.
It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
 
sfo212
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 10:11 am

I really enjoy listening to Channel 9. I have mainly listened to it on the SFO-HNL route. Once the aircraft gets out of radar range, they communicate to each other on the HF frequencies which is very interesting too. Most of the times it is quiet and not much going on over the ocean, but every once in awhile there is interesing conversation about the track each aircraft is flying and where they are coming from or going to.

Sometimes the pilots turn it off once we get out of radar range of either the west coast or Hawaii and never turn it back on as we get back under normal ATC control. Makes me think they should just leave it on all the time.

At least we are lucky enough that there is an airline that lets the aviation enthusiasts listen in.
 
N243NW
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:25 am

Hi all-

On my only flight with UA (last April, ORD-SAT-ORD on the 737), I visited the cockpit before departure from ORD and chatted with the captain for about 10 minutes. When I was just about to ask him if Ch. 9 would be turned on, he asked me, "Plan on listening to Channel 9 today?" Of course, I said yes. It really adds to the flight experience being able to hear exactly what your plane is doing. I love the suspense it adds hearing your flight being cleared for takeoff and waiting for the engines to spool up. Big grin

On our return flight, we were about ten minutes into our climb when we were cleared to a higher altitude. However, the pilot advised ATC that he was unable to do so because he had to "sort out a little flap problem." Immediately afterward, he switched the ATC off and we had jazz in its place while the pilots recycled the flaps and slats and worked on the issue. However, they were very good at remembering to turn it back on after they were done discussing the problem with ATC. This happened another one or two times throughout the flight, and whenever it was on, I could hear the pilots declare their inability to maintain certain speeds due to "aircraft configuration."

After we were parked at the gate, I was able to visit the cockpit and I asked the pilot about the problem. He immediately sensed my level of aviation knowledge and gave me a detailed description of how one of the leading edge slat panels on the port wing was showing up in the flight deck as "in transition," even though the pilots could see it retracted from the cockpit window. Chances are it was simply a faulty indicator light or switch in the wing. However, due to the possibility that the slat wasn't actually secured in the retracted position, we had to keep our speed down during some parts of the flight just to be safe.

On that flight, the pilots turned off Ch. 9 in case the passengers would hear of an aircraft problem that might worry them.

-N243NW Big thumbs up
B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
 
3201
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Mon Jan 10, 2005 5:23 pm

Any of you guys ever hear commercial radio on Channel 9? I got it tonight, for the second time (I think the other time was about a year ago)... starting on the ground in SJC, and all the way to Denver, some conservative talk radio station from Denver. Neither ATC nor Jazz (which might actually have been my distant second choice) the entire way. What's up with that?

I used to hate it when it was disabled -- wouldn't even make eye contact with the crew leaving the plane.  Pissed Now, unless I'm flying somewhere new and unusually interesting, I've leared to live with it.  Yawn
7 hours aint long-haul
 
mcg
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:40 pm

Sometimes UA tunes channel to am radio so that football games can be listened to. I suspect the channel 9 on your aircraft was tuned to radio station KOA in Denver as this is where the Broncos are broadcast. Sometimes the crew forgets to switch it back to ATC and you are left with whatever is on after the game.
 
Skymonster
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:53 pm

Last time I flew UA, the captain in his pre-departure announcement said "...and if there's anything we can do to make your trip more pleasant..."

And of course channel 9 wasn't on, so I asked the flight attendant to ask the captain to put it on "to make my trip more pleasant". Anyway, apparently the captain wouldn't put it on, so when I got off at the end of the flight and the captain was at the door saying goodbye to the passengers I said "Its a shame that the commitment you made before we took of that if there was anything that would make our trip more pleasant we should ask, didn't extend to putting channel 9 on. You shouldn't make such promises if you won't then keep them". He seemed to be rather embarrassed - good, and hopefully next time he'd be more thoughtful of passenger requirements.
There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
 
flybyguy
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RE: UAL "Channel 9" Not All The Time?

Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:43 pm

I don't see what pilots are so jumpy about... someone's going to hold up the plane with a plastic fork? After all the scrutiny a person gets going through the hassle of the TSA and numerous profiling and bomb security checks, passengers should be given a treat, not criminalized by pilots who have no clue about what real terrorism is. I'm all for channel 9 and before pushback cockpit visits. If people think this is a security threat then I guess you also believe that terrorists put Skokie, IL at the top of their attack list.
"Are you a pretender... or a thoroughbred?!" - Professor Matt Miller