On the glamors of airline life, the need to restrain governments’ power, and why we need to promote General Aviation careers.

From Michael Bronson

Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 10:58:49 -0700

Subject: DEN CSR Incident – Captain Arrested

It becomes more difficult to see why we pay ALPA dues with the continued degradation of our careers. Below is just another example. I haven’t heard so much as a whimper about this. Why? I also learned of a group recently called the United Pilots For Justice. They are suing the company and the PBGC due to UALs blatant misrepresentation of the Frequent Flyer program to the bankruptcy court as a liability, instead of the massive asset it actually was. So again I ask, why hasn’t ALPA pursued this matter on behalf of all United pilots? The company sues the pilots over supposed job actions, but when they disallow most vacation drops because they realize it costs more money than the crooked 2.8 hour vacation day, nothing from ALPA. It’s time for rank and file to start getting answers to these questions.

RW     sfo 777 f/o


Captain John Rood was the Captain on United Airlines Flight 744 on December 26, 2010 from Denver to Boston departing from Gate B-37. After assisting Maintenance with a reverser problem which had delayed the flight, Customer Service began boarding the aircraft when the go ahead was given by Zone Control around 8:30 am.


At the last minute, a Jet Blue pilot entered the cockpit and requested to ride the cockpit jumpseat to Boston since the flight was planned to be full.  After checking his credentials, and after introductions were made, the pilot requested to stow his bags in the cockpit, to which Captain Rood agreed since there was plenty of room.  The jumpseater further stated that the CSR working the flight had taken his roller board away from him and was going to gate check it.


Captain Rood exited the cockpit onto the jetway and saw the pilot’s bag next to the jetway door.  He told the CSR, a Mr. Douglas E. Beaman, fn181732,  that it was ok for the pilot to stow his bag in the cockpit.  Mr. Beaman rudely responded that the bag was going to be gate checked and would not be allowed on the aircraft.  As the working Captain of the flight, Captain Rood felt it was well within his authority over OMC issues to allow the bag in the cockpit. In order to accommodate the jumpseater who was commuting to work,  he told the CSR that he was taking the bag onboard.


At that time, the CSR opened the jetway door, grabbed the bag, and threw it out onto the slide to the bottom of the jetway stairs.  As he did that, Captain Rood attempted to go out onto the jetway stairs, but the CSR abruptly closed the door, and used his body to bump the Captain back onto the jetway.  The Captain was astonished by the CSR’s highly antagonistic actions.


The Captain asked him if the CSR was going to prevent him from accessing the ramp, to which the CSR replied that was his intention.  The Captain pointed out that he was a badged employee and the CSR had no right to deny him access to the ramp. He replied that he was not going to allow the Captain onto the ramp. The Captain then attempted to go around him, when he forcibly tried to stop the Captain’s progress again making physical contact. The Captain continued to move to gain access through the door.  When it became apparent that the Captain was going to gain access, Mr. Beaman abruptly stopped pushing, flopped back and stated, “That’s assault.”  No one else was present on the jetway during this encounter.


The Captain went out the jetway door and down the stairs, retrieved the pilot’s bag, and brought it back up to the top of the jetway stairs.  Having forgotten the door access code, he was standing at the top of the stairs outside the jetway door calling the Company Crew telephone number in order to retrieve the code from an automated system.  As he was in this process, the CSR opened the jetway door, grabbed the pilot’s bag and again threw it down the jetway slide.


The bag was again retrieved, and the Denver Domicile Flight Operations Representative was called in order to get a Flight Manager for assistance.  The jetway door again opened, this time by a CSR supervisor, and the Captain regained access to the jetway.


The Captain’s access to the aircraft was now blocked by two CSR supervisors.  So, as he stood there with the bag, he called the Flight Operations Duty Manager, and spoke with Scott Miller.  He explained the situation, and asked him to check on the actual verbiage in the Flight Operations Manual, in order to verify where the bag was allowed to be stowed.  Scott verified that it could be stowed in the primary or secondary crew stowage areas, the primary area being in the cockpit.


About this time, DEN 767 F/O William Fox, the Flight Operations Representative, came down the jetway, and the Captain briefly explained what has happening.


On the jetway now, there were about three CSR supervisors, the CSR, and four Denver Airport police officers.  The Captain was surprised when the police arrived, and he became concerned about the escalating situation. He made the statement that he was exercising his Captain’s Authority to board the bag in the cockpit.  One police officer came forward, stating that “you have no authority, I am the authority, and your authority is only in effect on the airplane, and then you can be Captain or Admiral or whatever you want.”


The Captain also called ALPA representatives who in turn called the NER ACP Captain James Simons in order to get some Flight Operations assistance, but without any success.  The Captain was trying to use his resources in the Flight Operations chain of command, but the situation was spiraling out of control.  No one from United management seemed to be taking control of matters.  A police officer asserted that the Captain was causing an inconvenience for a lot of passengers and that he should just get on the airplane. The implication was very clear, “Fly or be arrested!”


This whole situation, the obvious disregard for the Captain’s authority for the conduct of this flight, the physical intimidation and lying by the CSR, and the added intimidation by the police officers, and the lack of any meaningful support from company management put him in a very difficult situation.  He was faced with assuming the responsibility for the safe conduct of the flight and safety of an aircraft with 148 passengers and 5 crew aboard into a snow storm where the forecast visibility was 1 mile and decreasing with a resultant lowering ceiling; or removing himself from the flight due to the continuing stress and mental distraction that he was enduring from the intimidation and interference while attempting to perform his duties in a responsible and diligent manner.  The Captain was no longer focused on the jumpseater’s bag, but rather the safety of the flight.


The Captain then made a statement questioning his fitness to fly, and that maybe he should conscientiously remove himself from the flight which he subsequently did.  After gathering his gear from the cockpit, he was then placed under arrest for assault and disturbance by the Denver Airport Police, handcuffed, transported to first a holding cell at the airport, and then downtown for processing and booking.  Up until the point of his self-removal from the flight, he had the option of boarding the aircraft as pilot in command and departing.


Except for Captain McCaskey’s assistance in getting from the Denver jail back to DIA, support from United Airlines in this matter has been notably absent.  Moreover, he is personally liable for any and all legal fees and other expenses resulting from this incident, even though he was in the pursuit of his duties, and his final decision to remove himself from the flight was made with the overriding interests of flight safety in mind at the expense of his own well-being. Amazingly, the Company has chosen to ignore his self-sacrifice and to instead issue a disciplinary letter of charge for unprofessional behavior.  The Captain is currently awaiting the Company’s decision after his hearing at IADFO.


The Company’s behavior in this matter is unfathomable when viewed soley in the context of safe airline operations.  But when you factor in their campaign against the stature and importance of the airline pilot profession thier actions become understandable.  Lastly, the fact that Captain Rood is an active ALPA volunteer, currently serving on the MEC Grievance Committee, makes very clear the motivation behind the Company’s actions.

Date: Monday, March 28, 2011, 7:46 PM

Fellow Pilots,

I am forwarding this email from a fellow pilot so that you are all aware of what has happened recently.  The first part of C/L/R is TEM, Threat and Error Management.  The first part of TEM is Threat Identification.  This email identifies a threat to all pilots that operate flights in and out of DEN as long as this particular CSR and police officer are still working there.  Our ability to identify this threat to our jobs is critical and will allow us to avoid or mitigate the threat.

Although the CSR is identified by name and file number, I have asked our Council 57 officers to obtain of photo of the CSR and publish it in either an email or an ALPA DYK bulletin so that we can all have a photo as well.  Unfortunately we do not have the name of the police officer that questioned Captain Rood’s Captains authority and later arrested him.  For this reason, I would suggest that pilots avoid contact with all local Denver airport police until this officer has identified and reassigned.

I am requesting that any of you who have served in the Marine Corps with Captain Rood or have flown with him at United, to please contact him via email and offer your support.  The outcome of his United hearing is imminent and I will let you know the results.  It is important to note that he has been well represented by Council 11 LEC officers and treated fairly by the DCA flight office.  Once charges are filed by another employee group and forwarded up to United Labor Relations and Human Resources, it can be difficult for your local Flight Manager to diffuse.

This is not the first time there have been problems for our pilots caused by DEN CSR’s.  It is my understanding that recently there was a significant problem and confrontation between a DEN CSR and a couple of our Council 11 LEC officers, Marco Salazar and Bob Fox, involving positive space travel and denied seating.  I would like to hear the details from them on this incident and if possible, the identification of the Threat/CSR.

Please feel free to forward this to as many other pilots as you may have on your email list. … Remember, “just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that they are not our to get you”.


BK     DCA 777 F/O     Council 57 (by request due to current CA residence)

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: CSR incident

Rusty and Boomer,
It’s been a difficult three months.  Knowing that I have support from “comrades in arms” is immeasurable.

I know there is some friction between some of the MEC members, so I want to make it clear that [members] from the MEC have represented me well and diligently.

Semper Fi,



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