9780393081107 198

Full Upright and Locked Position

Not-So-Comfortable Truths about Air Travel Today


Mark Gerchick (Author)

Our Retail Price:£16.99

Add to Basket


"Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight," our pilots still intone. But who are they kidding?

In Full Upright and Locked Position, former FAA chief counsel and senior aviation policy official Mark Gerchick unravels the unseen forces and little-known facts that have reshaped our air travel experience since September 11, 2001.

With wry humor and unique insight, Gerchick takes us past the jargon, technicalities, and all-is-well platitudes to expose the new normal of air travel: from the packed planes and myriad hassles of everyday flying to the alchemy of air fares, the airlines’ endless nickel-and-diming, and the elusive hope of escape from steerage. We find out what pilots do in the cockpit, what’s really worth worrying about when it comes to airline safety, and why we get sick on planes. Meanwhile, Gerchick ponders the jarring disconnect between our quaint expectations of "service with a smile" and the grim reality of cramped seats, no-free-lunch, and "watch-yer-knees."

With sympathy for both fliers and airlines, Gerchick shows how the new "business-all-business" airline industry has finally learned to make money, even in the face of crushing fuel costs, and get millions of travelers where they’re going every day safely and quickly.

From his singular vantage point as former aviation regulator and policymaker, Gerchick gives us a straightforward insider’s view of how hard it is for government to improve the traveler’s lot by explaining the vagaries of consumer protection rules as well as the political realities and the economic forces at work. While Gerchick offers reasons to hope for a better future in air travel, he presents an unvarnished look at what we can expect—good and bad—when we take to the skies. Some of it will reassure you, some will make you cringe, but all will open your eyes to what it means to fly today.


“Anyone who wonders why they are always in the last boarding group—regardless of seat assignment—should read Full Upright and Locked Position.” — Patricia Harris, Boston Globe

“An incredible, plainspoken look into the world of the airline industry. Mark Gerchick’s Full Upright and Locked Position covers everything: the people, the problems, the history, and even the 'how and why' of airline ticket pricing. Whether you travel once a year or once a week, this insider's account will both educate and fascinate you. It's a fun read, too, while you poke around 'under the cowling.'” — J. Randolph Babbitt, former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and retired airline captain

“Mark Gerchick provides an authoritative, incredibly insightful, and entertaining account about why the airlines behave the way they do. The traveling public, the airlines, and public policy decision makers should put Full Upright and Locked Position on their 'must-read' list.” — Kenneth Mead, general counsel and EVP, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation

“Mark Gerchick demonstrates a comprehensive grasp of the aviation system: economics, safety, politics, and the passenger experience. His grasp of aviation safety (i.e., what should you worry about?) is especially compelling. Any air traveler will find Full Upright and Locked Position lively, interesting, and informative reading.” — Carol J. Carmody, former vice-chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

“I fully expect that some day soon I’ll be on a flight where every passenger is reading the same book: Full Upright and Locked Position. It won’t make the plane seem any less cramped, or the pricing or schedule policies any less maddening, or the security any easier to deal with. But Mark Gerchick’s clarity, knowledge, and humor will give everyone a better sense of how American air travel became such a joyless (though safe) ordeal, and what hope there is ahead.” — James Fallows, author of China Airborne and national correspondent for The Atlantic

“Intriguing… Resonant… a narrative that is part lifting of the veil and part condemnation of commercial airlines’ loss of soul.” — Christine Thomas, Miami Herald