8 Crew Members From Hell You Don’t Want On Your Next Flight

One of our recent blog posts, Don’t Drink And Fly, showcased several passengers who found themselves in plenty of trouble because of alcohol. These were extreme examples, of course, but disruptive behaviour aboard aircraft is increasing at an alarming rate. Because the police have serious problems getting their cars up to 30,000ft, flight crews are expected to deal with such incidents in a professional manner. They are also expected to ensure that the safety of the aircraft is never compromised. Unlike the Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot who last week hijacked his own jet, they are not expected to be the reason for the disruption in the first place. This week we thought we’d have a look at some other flight crew who forgot this important fact.

What Happens If I Push This Button?

Studies show that fatigue impairs performance as much as sinking a few beers, so flight crew are encouraged to take rest in the cockpit whenever they feel overtired. However, the pilots of Air India Flight AI133 clearly misunderstood this sensible policy when they both took a power nap at the same time. In Business Class. According to the Times of India, they got two stewardesses to sit in their seats and ‘operate’ the aircraft in their absence. Unfortunately, one of the flight attendants accidentally turned off the autopilot and the pilots only just made it back before disaster struck.

aeroflotAnti-Social Media, Russian Style

When the photo Tatiana Kozlenko posted of herself flipping the bird to 100 passengers behind their backs went viral, she was quickly dismissed by her furious employers. Although the Russian flight attendant initially denied it was her hand, she eventually admitted her guilt, apologised profusely and even pleaded for her job back. Incredibly, and almost certainly influenced by vodka, the Director General of Aeroflot agreed to reinstate Kozlenko because she was “just in love with the sky”.

Excuse Me Sonny, Which Way To The Runway?

In 2012, authorities at London Heathrow airport grounded a LOT jet from Poland when a routine inspection found that both pilots were over the age of 60. Whilst every holder of a commercial licence has to undergo a medical exam on a regular basis, it is not unheard of for someone to pass one and then, a few weeks later, pass on. Regulators felt that introducing such a rule reduced the risk of both pilots meeting their maker on the same day, although that probably wasn’t the only reason. Mental capability also deteriorates with age, and nobody wants pilots who forget where they’re going half way across the Atlantic.

photo credit: Ma1974 / flickr
photo credit: Ma1974 / flickr

You Didn’t Want That Child, Did You?

Invent a humane way to keep kids quiet on airplanes and you will earn millions overnight. Unfortunately, this Virgin Blue flight attendant’s extremely effective method of placing a 17 month-old toddler into the overhead locker only earned him the sack. The toddler’s mother, Natalie Williamson, kicked up a huge fuss and claimed she was too traumatised to fly again. She also told the entire world that her son, Riley, couldn’t stop crying and was unable to leave her side without screaming “mum, mum, mum!” We’re sure Williamson was only doing what she thought best for her child, but when the kids in his first school see this, poor Riley better get used to being jammed into lockers.

I Thought You Were The Designated Driver?

In 2005, two America West pilots were in court for attempting to operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol. They’d been drinking until 4am and turned up at the airport six hours later to fly their plane. Despite all evidence to the contrary, including positive blood tests, the defence team claimed their clients were innocent. Why? Because the aircraft was being pushed back by a tug when the police stopped the flight, so they weren’t technically in control. Apparently, the judge thought the legal team wasn’t technically in control either, and sent both pilots to prison.

Never Let The Passengers See You Sweat

It wasn’t such a heavenly experience for passengers on board this Virgin Atlantic flight between London and Las Vegas. When the aircraft hit severe turbulence, an already alarming situation was made much worse when one of the flight attendants panicked and started shouting, “We’re gonna crash!” As is often the case with bad turbulence, a large number of sick bags were used, though the article doesn’t mention exactly how many changes of pants were required.

steven-slaterAnd The Winner Is…

Steven Slater, a JetBlue steward who truly raised the bar when he quit his job. On what turned out to be his final flight into JFK, yet another rude passenger was one too many for Slater. He stormed back into the galley, shouted some choice words over the PA and then, stopping only to take two beers from the bar trolley, blew an evacuation slide and jumped. He then strolled across the tarmac to the staff parking lot, got into his car and drove home. When police finally caught up with him, he was in bed with his partner. Slater enjoyed a brief spell as a media celebrity and folk hero, before the courts hit him with probation and a $10,000 bill for damages.

Worth. Every. Penny.

Jack Leonard

Jack Leonard is a 747 captain with over 20 years of airline experience. Living in France, based in the UK and operating around the world, he has seen his fair share of airports as both flight crew and passenger. He's not sure which is worse.

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  • You know who I would want as a crew member on my flight? Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger. He was the captain in “Miracle On The Hudson.” That’s what they call the incident where the US Airways plane went down in the Hudson River. Something happened to one of the engines (I think a bird got caught in one of the engines), and Sully made the lifesaving decision to land the plane in the Hudson. He also obviously knew what to do an a water landing.

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