Passengers on a flight from Washington to San Francisco were held up on the runway for two hours while the pilot and his co-pilot had a furious argument.
Alaska Airlines says a “professional disagreement” between the two pilots was the main cause of a delay which led to flight AS1080 being returned to the departure gate on Monday.
The plane had already been held up due to bad weather before the row broke out in the cockpit.
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One passenger Tweeted: “… after being on a plane waiting out a storm for 2 hrs (AS1080) your pilots just pulled back to the gate and got off the plane because of a ‘failure to get along’.
“Incredibly unprofessional. Flight attendants are doing their best and have no idea what’s going on.”
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The passenger later Tweeted a short video which appeared to show one of the pilots storming off through the terminal, dragging their suitcase behind them.
While the unscheduled change of crew was inconvenient, it could have been much worse. Another argument between pilots in 1975 – this one "violent" – was cited as the chief cause of what was at the time Britain’s worst-ever airline disaster.
Alaska Airlines said that the decision to change crews was the right one. In a statement, the airline said: “While this situation was unfortunate, in the interest of safety, the pilots did the right thing."
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“Both the captain and the first officer were evaluated by management," the statement continued. "It was determined they remained fit to fly. We swapped crews and the flight continued to San Francisco. We apologised to our guests for the inconvenience this caused.”
A number of people commented on Twitter that this was absolutely the right call. One wrote: “Although very annoying & inconvenient, as a pilot myself, I think the way things ended up was much better for all you passengers.
"I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to be on that flight knowing the guys up on the flight deck were quarrelling! A recipe for disaster.”
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