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Culture

Useless PA system on Southwest flights

What are people supposed to do if they can't hear vital information over dysfunctional public address systems?

Once, when I was waiting on a subway platform in New York, there was a fire of some sort in an adjacent tunnel. Presumably, subway officials issued directions for what those of us inside the station should do to get away from the smoke.

But neither I nor anyone around me would have benefited from those instructions because the public address system in the station was so bad that all we could hear was garbled, voice-like sounds coming from the speakers. I remember bewildered people looking at each other to see if anyone could divine what was being said.

I was reminded of that during two flights on Southwest Airlines this week when the captains (or was it the co-pilots) began speaking over the planes' PA systems. I'm sure the information wasn't crucial, because all was normal on the planes. But how would I know? Again, I couldn't hear what was being said. I'm pretty sure it was in English, though.

And I should note that, for the most part, I was able to hear just fine when the flight attendants were speaking. It was only the information from the cockpit that was unintelligible.

It's baffling to me that in this day and age, when everyone claims to be so security and safety conscious, a major airline would permit such poorly performing equipment on its planes. What if the situation were serious? How would the passengers--like those of us on that subway platform in New York--know what to do?

I generally like flying Southwest, but I also noticed, on one of the planes, that the window shades on two different windows were broken and dysfunctional. Combined, these thing do not leave me feeling enthusiastic about flying the airline in the future.

I wonder if other people have had similar experiences, particularly with malfunctioning PA systems linking people in positions of authority with the public? If so, please feel free to mention it here. Perhaps then someone in a position to fix the broken systems might feel a need to do something about it.