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Top Nine Pilots Behaving Badly

Ever felt the need to “spice up” your coffee before facing another long day at work? We’re not sure if a pilot for Frontier was hitting the mimosa brunch buffet before boarding or if he just partied so hard the night before that he was still feeling it, but either way, the unnamed culprit reportedly missed his 6:00 a.m. flight last week.

KPTM News reported that the pilot was scheduled to fly a Frontier plane from Omaha to Milwaukee last Thursday, but that a hotel shuttle bus driver tipped off police that the pilot appeared to be drunk and in no condition to fly a plane. You know it’s bad when a hotel shuttle bus driver, who we imagine has seen his share of “drives of shame” to the airport, thinks you’re in rough shape.

The police questioned the pilot and turned him over to Frontier, which is investigating the allegation. Meanwhile, passengers had to wait for two hours while the airline scrambled to find a sober replacement.

Airlines have strict, zero-tolerance policies for alcohol these days, and the FAA has prohibited pilots from flying within eight hours after drinking. We know that the majority of pilots are hard-working (and over-worked and under-paid), but this incident is just the latest in a turbulent few years for pilot public relations.

Our top nine “pilots behaving badly” incidents:

1. Coffee catastrophe

A pilot spills his coffee on the airplane’s communication device, and triggers a series of emergency codes (including one for a hijacking). The plane was diverted, and hopefully the pilot got a new cup once they landed.

2. F-this

A pilot was on his cell-phone during a break, and a passenger complained about the rude language the pilot was using, prompting the pilot to use even ruder language at the passenger. C’mon, this flight was departing from Vegas—you’d think the passenger must have heard (and seen) way worse on the trip!

3. Remorseful and drunk

A United pilot pleaded guilty to charges after showing up drunk for a flight. (Don’t worry, the pilot never made it in the air.)

4. Getting stuck in a bathroom

This pilot lived everyone’s worst nightmare by getting locked in a tiny airplane bathroom (his co-pilot was at the controls), and then added to the embarrassment by causing the plane to make an emergency landing when passengers thought it was a terror attack.

5. Forgetting to land

Two Northwest pilots missed their destination (Minneapolis), causing a panic when they dropped off radio contact. The pilots reemerged 150 miles off course, claiming they were distracted by a heated discussion amongst themselves. (Other people alleged that they were asleep.)


6. Not Really a Pilot

You might want to breathalyze your pilot and check his or her the papers next time you fly an Indian airline. Travel and Leisure reported that more than 55 pilots in the country’s airlines tested positive for alcohol during preflight checks between January 2009 and June 2011. Oh, and there was also that IndiGo Airlines Captain who used forged papers to get her airline transport pilots license. She was found out after touching down with the front of the plane instead of the back during a landing.

7. In-Flight Fight

The cabin crew and pilots were the in-flight entertainment aboard an Air India plane when they came to blows during an argument. The cabin crew alleged that the pilots harassed a female colleague, and the pilots accused a male flight attendant of misconduct and making up the harassment allegation; then, perhaps inevitably, the fists started flying. We hope the cabin crew was prepared to land the plane if they had succeeded in knocking out both pilots.

8. Pilot on Meth

Lion Air may have a cool name, but this Indonesian airline also has a bit of a drug problem. Namely, five pilots have been arrested for alleged drug use in the past two months. Most recently, pilot Syaiful Salam was arrested for possession of crystal meth, and subsequent drug testing came up positive. Sure, you want your pilot to get high, but only in regards to altitude…

9. Unlucky Layover

Layovers can be boring for pilots and crew, so instead of hitting the hotel bar, two Pinnacle Airline employees decided to spice things up. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for the night, the pilot and flight attendant (so cliche) decided to go for a late night liaison in the woods. Unfortunately, after getting naked, they got lost and separated. Someone called the police about a naked man in the woods, and a heat-seeking helicopter eventually found the naked pilot cowering behind a woodshed.

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