Air travel is almost second-nature in today’s world. Whether it is delivering people or packages, it has become a norm of everyday life. In a world where exploring requires us to travel to the farthest corners of the world, flying is more popular than ever before. Some relish the opportunity to b 40,000 feet in the air while others repel it, but do it anyway.
Of course, as with any machine, aircraft can play-up sometimes, and there is no shortage of documents outlining past issues and near misses. When pilots speak, passengers listen, and although we may not think it, we listen to their every word, every tone of voice, every pause, and if one of those is not what we expect, worry starts to set in. Read-up on some of the best captain blunders in the world…some with passengers, others with air traffic control, but one thing is for sure, they will not fail to disappoint!
10 The Yoghurt Saga
On an EasyJet flight in the middle of 2018, it was reported that a co-pilot, while the captain was in the midst of his address to the passengers upon landing, was opening a squeezy yoghurt. Cool story, right? Well wait, it gets better. Just as the pilot has finished his spiel, the co-pilot squeezed some yoghurt on to his uniform and yelled out some obscenities, but there was one problem…the microphone was still on and the passengers heard every word! One passenger described the cabin as going in to complete shock as they thought something serious had happened. The captain smoothed it over with some light-hearted jokes, everyone had a few laughs, and all was forgiven!
9 Where are we going?
A flight from Atlanta to Baltimore, or Atlanta to Boston? It is never a good sign when not even your captain knows where he is going. This was the case on a Delta Airlines flight recently, where the captain announced that the aircraft will have minor repairs once in Baltimore. Then moments later announced he had just been informed the plane was actually landing in Boston and not Baltimore. It can only be left to the imagination how the passengers were feeling regarding this…let’s say, misinformed, pilot’s announcement.
8 A torch in broad daylight?
Yep. You read correctly. On a flight from Chicago to Lake Tahoe, a passenger noticed an unusual build-up of ice on the wing. He informed the flight attendant who quickly notified the captain.
After the appropriate action was taken, it was later evident that the anti-ice system did not work, so the first officer was sent to take a look. To the surprise of almost all passengers, he came out with a 2-foot long, heavy duty torch that he used to identify the situation, and once the captain found out, apparently he almost fell off his chair in laughter!
7 How fast are we really going?
It has been well-documented that in an attempt to use their comedic skills, pilot’s try the speed and altitude joke, or maybe it is human error. If you are someone who isn’t a fan of flying, it can come as a bit of a surprise, but everyone has a laugh (whether it is because it’s actually funny, or out of sympathy for a bad joke will remain to be seen) and then they move on. Ok, it’s been put off for too long now, so here was one on a flight to Las Vegas; ‘ladies and gentlemen, today we will be traveling at an altitude of 500-feet and a speed of 33,000 mph, or wait, maybe it is the other way around...nevertheless, we will be arriving to a beautiful sunset’.
6 Left, right and center
Upon landing, the pilot of a Lufthansa flight from Berlin to New York was told by JFK Tower that the landing was a little to the left of the center-line of the runway. This is not a problem at all, and to subtly give it back to the Tower, the captain replied, ‘damn straight, and my first officer was slightly to the right’. A little bit of friendly banter exchanged between Tower and the cockpit, but you can almost guarantee there was an underlying message in the response from the captain to the air traffic controller.
5 Fuel might help!
Not sure if this one was poor preparation, bad judgement or simply a not-so-funny joke, but as an aircraft from New Orleans bound for Daytona Beach pushed back, everything seemed quite normal…until the captain made his presence known over the intercom. As the aircraft was taxiing to the runway, the passengers noticed the aircraft turn around and head back to the terminal. Much to the delight of passengers, the captains voice emerged on the radio, however this delight was quickly turned to confusion as he said, ‘I thought before we left, it would be ideal to fill up with some fuel’.
Make of that what you will, but guaranteed all passengers were in a state of shock and disbelief.
4 Cats on a plane
Not a blunder, but a unique experience nevertheless. Alerion Aviation is a company who manages, flies and maintains private jets for those who may not have the time to do so themselves. One man who owned a private jet managed by Alerion had a daughter living in London and she wanted her cat to be with her. As he was too busy to make the journey himself and deliver the cat, they simply buckled up the cat as if it were a human passenger and off it went, across the Atlantic and 6 hours later, was delivered, relaxed and pampered, mind you, to his daughter!
3 Runway or Taxiway?
This one should be really not even exist, but unfortunately it does. In the US, a captain mistook a taxiway for a runway and decided he would land his aircraft there.
Luckily, there were no other aircraft on the taxiway upon landing, but it sure caused a big stir within the aviation industry. It is a blunder that can be funny and not funny, depending on who you ask.
2 Short and sharp
If you have flown before, you will know that pilots love to tell you exactly what oath the aircraft will take on route to the destination. This was not the case on a flight from Indianapolis to Chicago recently, where a passenger described the captains address as short and sweet. It was simply ‘we’re here’. It is no secret that Chicago is a windy city, hence the nickname, and so it was quite a bumpy approach. Would 2 words from the captain the whole flight make you worried?
1 Better late than never
On a flight from the French capital to Nice, passengers were left guessing as to why operations had come to a standstill, and why the aircraft was not going anywhere. As the pilot announced the short delay due to technical problems, he could hear the distinct sound of disappointment and moaning of the passengers, so he got back on the radio and said, ‘I would rather arrive late than to be early in my next life’. Some may say feisty, others may say fair enough, but one thing is for sure, the passengers would have agreed when he put it like this!