The Lesson from Pilot’s Bathroom Blunder


It’s practically a storyline from a sitcom: a pilot takes a potty break and ends up trapped in the bathroom when the door lock malfunctions. A passenger who happens to have a thick accent (of some kind) learns of the situation, and tries to relay what’s happening to the co-pilot.

The co-pilot, safely locked inside said cockpit, hears the accent coming from a man knocking on the cockpit door and alerts the tower. Jets go into standby mode to potentially shoot down a terror threat.

All because a man got stuck in a bathroom.

I can’t imagine, at this moment, which man is being the bigger butt of jokes from his friends: the pilot who got stuck or the co-pilot who nearly sent the aviation industry into a full-fledged red alert.

I’m sure that pilot has probably gotten cases of Depends by now.

But this goofy story does give us an important look at what went remarkably well: security inside a post 9/11 airliner’s cockpit. This is exactly the kind of random incident that could have been exploited by a terrorist to gain control of a plane. The co-pilot did precisely what he should have done: he didn’t allow an unauthorized person entry.

The only question I have is why the passenger with that alleged thick foreign accent was apparently given a password by the captain in the first place. The co-pilot, in reporting the situation to ground control, mentioned that the unidentified passenger was giving him a password in an attempt to enter the cockpit.

What should certainly have happened was that the pilot should have asked the passenger to get a flight attendant who could have then notified the co-pilot via intercom. That would have at least prevented putting the Port Authority, the FBI and fighter jets on alert.

Still, if there needed to be a test of security in an unusual situation, I’m relieved that the cockpit door stayed shut.

1 Comment

  1. *chuckles* I heard about this and did have a laugh about it. You are right, of course. The proper procedures were followed by the co-pilot and I’m glad to hear they were!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.