Passengers on Alaska Airlines flight 1080 from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., to San Francisco on July 18 had a bumpy ride long before the plane ever took off.
The flight itself had already been delayed an hour and a half due to inclement weather. However, once everyone was on board and the plane headed for the tarmac, it suddenly turned around and headed back to the gate. Not because of a pop-up storm or equipment failure, but because the pilot and co-pilot just couldn’t “get along.”
According to reports, allegedly from passengers, the pilot took to the intercom as he taxied the plane back to the gate and informed everyone on board that he and his co-pilot had “a failure to get along” and that “in the interest of safety,” he was returning them back to the place from whence they came.
Once they had docked safely at the gate, the pilot allegedly hurried off the plane “fuming.” One passenger took a video of him with the caption “@AlaskaAir there goes your pro pilot, off into the sunset.”
Other passengers seemed just as frustrated by the sudden turn of events:
Despite the complaints on social media, the passengers ultimately didn’t fare too badly. The spat cost them an additional hour, which, when combined with the weather delay, meant that they arrived at their destination at 9:34 p.m. instead of 7:05 p.m. Alaska Airlines also offered each person on board $175 to help compensate for the inconvenience.
Meanwhile, passengers on a flight from Dulles to Los Angeles were similarly delayed two and a half hours because their pilot was selected to fill in for the absconded pilot on the San Francisco flight, but the L.A. passengers weren’t given any kind of compensation, monetary or otherwise, for the inconvenience.
There were also many in the airline industry and on social media who defended the decision to abort takeoff rather than risk the safety of everyone on board because the two pilots weren’t able to communicate.
“Hi guys! Although very annoying & inconvenient, as a pilot myself, I think the way things ended up was MUCH better for all you passengers! B/c 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!!” tweeted @RobertStuScott1, though it is unclear whether he was on the flight.
A representative from Alaska Airlines also defended the decision in a statement: “While this situation was unfortunate, in the interest of safety, the pilots did the right thing. Both the captain and the first officer was evaluated by management and it was determined they remained fit to fly… We apologized to our guests for the inconvenience this caused.”