On Friday, just hours before threatened random walkouts were set to begin, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero issued a temporary injunction prohibiting Northwest's flight attendants from striking until he has had time to consider the matter further.
Northwest had filed an appeal with the court to overturn a ruling by the judge overseeing Northwest's bankruptcy proceedings that the flight attendants were at liberty to strike any time after 10:01 ET on Friday.
The attendants planned to engage in CHAOS (Create Havoc Around Our System), a series of random unannounced slowdowns and walkouts, potentially causing flight delays and cancellations which could snarl the country's overtaxed air transport system and bring bankrupt Northwest to its knees.
According to an Associated Press report, the judge weighed the flight attendants' right to strike against other competing interests in the case and concluded that "far greater injuries exist to Northwest and the public by permitting the strike to commence at this point."
Under the circumstances, the judge's concern for travelers rings hollow. As mentioned in another blog entry, his refusal to consider the appeal until the last possible moment left Northwest ticket holders sweating the possibility that their flights would be canceled or delayed.
If the union and management show no progress toward reaching an accord by Wednesday, August 30, Judge Marrero will begin considering a final decision on the attendants' right to strike, but made no promises as to when such a decision might be handed down.
In the meantime, my advice to Northwest ticket holders remains the same: monitor the situation closely and be prepared to change travel plans if the flight attendants get the green light to proceed with their labor disruptions. And if you're contemplating a Northwest flight in the coming days, consider alternative carriers until this situation is resolved.