Couple of days back, the captain of an Air India flight refused to take off with a MP (Member of Parliament) who barged into the cockpit and allegedly hurled abuses, including calling the pilot “a glorified driver”. The plane took off after the MP deplaned.
Not surprisingly, the MP and pilot have different versions of the events that unfolded. The MP claims that he never entered the cockpit — a claim that can be verified easily by interviewing passengers.
It seems the captain got impatient with the delay in the departure and took the deputy airport manager to task. The deputy airport manager was supposed to have escorted the MP and his family well past the departure time.
The MP has threatened to take legal action. The pilots association wants an apology from the MP, or they plan to have him barred from flying locally and internationally; they say that entering a cockpit is a “serious” breach of security norms.
In my opinion, the MP, though very powerful, may have met more than his match. The pilots association is very powerful and if they stick to their stand, the MP has to back down.
More importantly, I think the pilot would have taken the same action irrespective of the religious affiliation of the MP. But some people who have their own agenda would not miss any opportunity to drag religion into this mix.
In most countries, if the MP did indeed barge into the cockpit, he would be cooling his heels in jail.
This incident got a lot of media coverage. A person who was being interviewed recalled an incident that happened a few years ago. He was sitting next to a VIP (minister) when the plane hit an air pocket; the outraged VIP apparently barged into the cockpit and abused the pilot!