Drama At 30,000 Feet

Here’s something no passenger wants to see at 30,000 feet: a pilot locked out of the cockpit midway through a flight. If you think it can’t happen, think again.

According to news reports, the pilot of a Canadian airliner who went to the restroom during a recent flight found himself locked out of the cockpit. Not only that, but apparently, crew members were forced to remove the door from its hinges to let him back in. An unsettling sight to say the least.

According to local newspapers, the strange (but true) incident happened on-board a regional jet operated by Air Canada’s Jazz subsidiary during a flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg. Airline spokespeople tell the media that “with 30 minutes of the flight to go, the pilot went to the washroom, leaving the first officer in charge. But when he tried to get back into the cockpit, the door would not open.” Airline executives say the door malfunction is a “rare occurrence” and added that the crew’s decision to remove the door “had been in line with company policy.”

Be that as it may, I’m not so sure I would take comfort in seeing the pilot of my flight desperately trying to get back into the cockpit. And it sounds like I’m not alone. Newspaper reports say most passengers described the scene as “dramatic.” Some passengers reported that for about 10 minutes they saw the pilot “bang on the door and communicate with the cockpit though an internal telephone.” While some passengers admitted the incident had left them “stressed,” the airline reported that at no time had the plane or passengers been in danger.

I was “stressed” just hearing about the incident, never mind having to live through such an ordeal. And hearing the airline insist that the passengers were never in danger, despite the fact that the pilot was not at the controls, is of little consolation to me. I would have been scared.

How would you have reacted?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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