An Alaska Airlines flight had to return to the departure gate after its pilots had a quarrel and refused to fly with each other. The flight was delayed by two and a half hours, and the airline had to find new aircrew to man the plane. The airline said the pilots “did the right thing” after what it called a “professional disagreement”.

Pilot Quarrel

The sudden demand for travel has put a real strain on the aviation industry, which has been plagued by a shortage of airport staff, longer hours, and renegotiated contracts. The conditions have made it a challenging sector to work in over these past few months.

Alaska Airlines pilot quarrel
The aircraft waited at the gate for over an hour due to storms| © Alaska Airlines

Perhaps this contributed to the pilot spat that caused Alaska Airlines flight AS-1080 to be delayed on Monday, 18 July. The airline runs the service six times a week, operating from Washington Dulles International to San Francisco International Airport.

Usually, the flight departs at 4:10 pm local time, but according to passengers, adverse weather conditions meant the plane was over 1.5 hours late to leave the gate. Imagine their shock when shortly after setting off for the runway, than the pilots announced they would return to the terminal.

Accounts vary as to exactly what the captain said, but the gist of what was said over the PA was a “failure of the Captain and First Officer to get along”. Disgruntled passengers were told they would be returning to the gate “in the interest of safety”. Twitter footage shows one of the pilots leaving the flight with his luggage.

Last Minute New Pilot

Alaska Airlines then had the task of finding a new captain last minute to replace him. Sources report that the airline rescheduled another pilot who was due to fly Washington to Los Angeles International. In the end, the San Francisco flight departed with a delay of two and a half hours.

It’s unclear whether the pilot involved in the argument was re-rostered onto another flight, but the airline told press that the pilots were deemed “fit to fly” after an evaluation. Alaska says the pilots “did the right thing” following their “professional disagreement” and apologised to customers for the inconvenience caused.

What are your thoughts on the pilots’ feud? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • The pilots’ first duty is safety of flight. Having established this, it is incredibly unprofessional to discontinue a flight because of a personal dispute. The pilots also have a duty to get the passengers to their destination. This duty transcends personal feelings or disagreements. If one or both of these pilots does not understand this, they should not be flying for an airline.

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