For What It’s Worth

Did you hear the one about the pilot who got stuck in the lavatory?

No, it’s not joke time. A pilot did get accidentally locked into the plane’s lavatory Wednesday, posing what the co-pilot thought might be a terrorist situation. Although not a joke, the story is one of those where some humor lurks in the midst of a serious situation. At least, I’m assuming that the pilot and others will look back as time goes by and laugh about the situation.

I can hear it now. Grandson John (yes, a weak double-entendre, but better than calling him Little Lav) curls up on the couch beside his pilot grandfather and pleads, “Grandpa, tell me again about the time you were locked in the pot and your co-pilot thought terrorists had nabbed you.”

Well, that might not be the exact scenario, but I’m betting the pilot and the rest of the crew will tell and retell the story and stir some laughter in the process. It was just one of those situations you read about and can’t help but smile since everything ended well.

The flight was from Asheville, N.C., to New York City. About 30 minutes from landing time, the pilot left the cockpit to go to the lavatory. It was a small plane and the sole flight attendant entered the cockpit since security protocols require two people in the cockpit at all times.

The pilot discovered that he was trapped in the lavatory because of a broken door latch. Perhaps he was flushed with embarrassment, though I don’t know that. He rattled the door trying to open it, and a passenger heard the noise. Perhaps the passenger wanted to notify the flight attendant, but she was in the cockpit. So, he decided to be helpful.

As it turned out, he was the wrong person in the right place. Turns out the Good Samaritan has what the co-pilot called “a thick foreign accent.” Not a positive when you knock on the cockpit door saying you have a message from the pilot.

The pilot asked the passenger to tell the co-pilot what has happened and gave him the password needed to access the cockpit. Dutifully, the passenger did as asked, but the response probably was not what he expected.

Instead of whipping the door opened and hustling the flight attendant on her way to open the lav door to free the pilot, the co-pilot apparently had visions of terrorists dancing in his head. The recording of his conversation with air traffic control shows his concern:

“The captain disappeared in the back, went to use the restroom. By all indications, what I’m being told is he’s stuck in the lav [probably not a situation covered in pilot training classes, you think?] and someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit and I’m not about to let him in.”

No need to ask this guy to tell you what he’s really thinking.

Air traffic control suggests that he declare an emergency and “just get on the ground.”

Meanwhile, the pilot has managed to break out of his confinement and reappears in the cockpit. He assures air traffic control that all is well. Nonetheless, the plane, with 14 passengers and three crew members on board, made an emergency landing at LaGuardia. A spokesman for the airline said the crew and the “Good Samaritan” who tried to help were to be commended for their actions.

That brings the lid down on a story in which all’s well that ends well.

Want to bet that the pilot skipped that last cup of coffee before taking off on his next flight?

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2 Responses to For What It’s Worth

  1. jbinghamoc says:

    Great story. I can see it playing out

  2. Cindy says:

    I’d love to leave a punny remark here, but I can’t think of one… =(

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