Southwest Airlines pilot threatens comedian who asks if he’s been drinking
A Southwest Airlines passenger — a professional comedian — confronted the pilot of his flight as he was boarding, asking if the captain was drunk. This was not well received and the pilot’s reaction was captured on video. Here’s what happened:
Man: “Are you the pilot of this flight?”
Pilot: “Yeah, what’s going on?”
Man: “You weren’t drinking or anything, were you?”
Pilot: “You know what, that’s the dumbest thing you can say.”
Man: “I’m joking.”
Pilot: “No, I’m not kidding.”
Man: “That’s a joke, sir.”
Pilot: “No, I’m not kidding, I can kick you out right now.”
Man: “I’m just kidding, oh my god. Have you ever heard a joke? I’m a comedian.”
Pilot: “Come here. In order. You do not do that. And the reason is that this gentleman over there and everyone else who is around is now doubting what I do for a living. I won’t go into your work and say shit…”
Man: “I’m very sorry I offended you. I understand.”
Pilots take criticism, even joke criticism, very seriously. They take their authority on board very seriously. Combine the two and you’re back in the terminal. Obviously, without this apology, the passenger would not have flown.
We take such allegations very, very seriously. This guy who claims to be a “comedian” has to be the worst I’ve ever seen.
Do. Don’t. To kid. Around. The. It’s not funny.
If you have concerns about a crew member, there are ways to address them. That’s not the right way. pic.twitter.com/0pZKlNSAR9
— Paul Barbee (@pbarbee) August 3, 2023
In June, a Delta flight was canceled after the captain was arrested for intoxication. This rarely happens, but it’s not uncommon. In 2019, United pilots flying from Glasgow to Newark were arrested for drunk driving and a full-board Delta flight from Minneapolis was canceled because of a drunk pilot. Of course, the United flight from London was delayed once because a drunken air marshal had to be taken away.
Alcohol consumption by pilots is a very sensitive topic. American Airlines even had to apologize when its external in-flight magazine featured pilots mixing cocktails.
Air travel can be a difficult career, and alcohol and other substance abuse problems remain hidden. Pilots with drug problems are often reluctant to speak up and seek help for fear of being sidelined, although programs exist to encourage them to do so.
Pilots not only hide alcohol abuse but mental illnesses as well, and this points to a fundamental conundrum: They want pilots to be open and seek help to promote safety, but once open they pose a clearly identified risk and are excluded from the cockpit. The consequences of openness discourage that openness. At least that’s the fear many pilots have because they don’t trust the obligation to help rather than punish.
(HT: Live and let’s fly)