10 Things You Never Want to Hear from a Pilot

Ever listen to "channel 9" on United, to hear what the pilots are saying? Not all captains turn it on for passengers, but when available, it's a fascinating inside "view" of cockpit communications.

But it can also offer some unwanted information. Last year, a flier listening in claimed he heard a flight attendant refer to the "idiots in coach."

That's bad, of course, but at least it wasn't a pilot.

Yes, pilots have also been known to say things you don't really want to hear. I'm talking about comments that make you cringe, but also funny stuff, too (which may leave you wondering what the heck they're doing up there in the cockpit).

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So I made up a list of the most memorable pilot lines I've heard (or heard about); I call it: Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear from Your Pilot.

#1: "Folks, We just lost one of our engines, but everything's going to be OK."

This was overheard by the mother of a network news producer. Mom's reaction went something like this: "Oh, for heaven's sake, did I really need to know this?"

Exactly, especially if everything really is going to "be OK." But maybe the pilot figured scared passengers are less likely to complain about high bag fees or paying 10 bucks for those skimpy airline salads.

It reminds me of a similar announcement on then-presidential contender Barack Obama's plane in the summer of 2008: "The emergency evacuation slide has deployed so we'll be landing now."

The candidate stayed cool and later joked with reporters, "Just thought we would spice things up a little bit today," and then added, "The pilots knew what they were doing."

#2: "Whoa, big fella?WHOA!"

A colleague swears this happened: a pilot (or co-pilot) jokingly yelled "Whoa, big fella!" over the intercom, just as her plane landed in Los Angeles.

"I know you'll think I'm stealing an urban legend," the colleague said, "like that junk that's spammed into your e-mail, but I really heard this. Maybe the pilot got the idea from his spam."

The airline in question? Southwest.

#3: "We're 22nd in Line for Take-off"

Boy, do I hate this. I was sitting on a plane at LaGuardia, when the pilot gave us the ominous news about being 22nd in line for departure. It was windy out, and when that happens they only use one runway for take-offs and landings.

What got me was that the pilot sounded kind of chipper about the whole thing. Were we supposed to be happy we weren't 35th in line? Then he said the delay would be just 45 minutes.

Hah! Fellow business travelers immediately whipped out calculators to figure the true length of the delay, and the consensus: an hour and a half (they were right). At least we made it in under the mandatory "three-hour rule" so we weren't further delayed by a trip back to the gate.

#4: "Brace for impact!"

You probably recognize this frightening phrase: it's what Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger said just before he safely landed his aircraft on the Hudson River, saving a planeload of passengers.

Your odds of being in any plane accident are incredibly small (about 1 in 11 million) but don't fool around if you ever do hear, "Brace for impact." Just assume the position.

Unfortunately, you won't have the pleasure of hearing it from Sully. He retired last year.

#5: "(?the sound of wind whistling through a hole in the plane?)"

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