airline pilot

Has an Airline Pilot Ever Quit and Left Passengers Stranded?

There was a Eastern Airline Captain many years ago who was not having a very good day. He also was only six months away from retirement.

On this particular flight out of Atlanta (ATL) while taxiing out for takeoff, he learned that he was 33rd in line for departure and that there would be many delays due to weather. It was the straw that broke his camel’s back! He announced to the passengers the situation, stated he decided that he would return to the gate and retire six months early, and he apologized for their inconvenience.

He returned to the gate and never flew again. His passengers were significantly inconvenienced, and his action cost him many thousands of dollars in lost pay. However it should also be noted that if a captain is that upset, he has no business flying, and perhaps the captain in question did the right thing.


Flight AF007 between New-York and Paris (operated by Air France), in January 2015! So yeah first of all the flight was 6h late because of the snow, but that wasn’t a problem for the pilots as the flight took off normally after that delay.

Then, the flight stopped at an airport in Manchester and the captain simply told the passengers that he was going to exceed his flight time limits for the month and decided to stop there and take another flight (as a passenger) to go home !
I guess he could have make an effort there, especially as there was only like 2h left or so until Paris, but that’s only my opinion.
The plane arrived in Paris with something like 12h of delay if I’m not mistaken.

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So what next? Well, Air France sent 3 planes to Manchester to bring the many passengers of the A380 to Paris, and they also gave a refund of 600 euros to every passenger. The CEO of Air France defended the captain’s decision and said he was right to do what he did, for the security of everyone involved in that flight.

You can search for this story on internet and find it in many news websites if you want to have more informations about it !


Back around 1996 with the now defunct Turkish Holiday Airlines in Berlin Tegel (Germany). During a turnaround with their A300B4 the FO had an argument with the captain. While the captain was out of the cockpit (maybe doing his walkaround), the FO took a screwdriver and removed the panel with the engine start switches from the overhead panel and disappeared. Some hours later he walked into the airport police station, dumped the aircraft part on the counter and left. Around 250 passengers had to be put into hotels, as they first had somebody re-install the panel in the cockpit (lesser problem, as then Lufthansa still had engineers with a A300B4 licence in TXL) and to get another FO to Berlin from Turkey.

Holiday Airlines was btw. the first airline to be blacklisted a few months later by the German authorities for massive dangerous issues with operational and maintenance procedures. It was one of many Turkish low cost airlines, which sprang up after the Yugoslav civil war closed the motorway through the Balkans (before the Turkish immigrants in Germany used to drive to Turkey in vans to visit their families).

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