*As Ricky Ricardo would say, “You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!” But with that said, I can tell you with conviction that being allowed to sit in the cockpit of an airplane, right next to the pilot, during a flight, is one helluva experience! But we’re not talking about me…yet. We’re talking about the Cathy Pacific airline pilot who is on the hot-seat catching heat after he invited an attractive passenger to sit in the cockpit during a flight.
Ada Ng, the lucky girl, was en route from Taipei to Hong Kong on Feb. 26 when she received the awesome invite. Reports claim Ng was assigned to sit in the business class jump seat (a seat usually reserved for off-duty crew or their family), but when she boarded, there was no seats available. “My flight was full. Even seats reserved for employees were all taken,” she wrote on her Weibo microblog. “Fortunately the pilot was so nice and even let me sit on the seat behind him!
Now why oh why couldn’t that be the end of it? The woman could have just been grateful, the pilot fulfilled, and the two-hour flight concluded, no harm done.
But this was not to be…
The kind gesture in the age of the internet would not go unnoticed. Especially since Ng couldn’t resist the urge to snap and post pictures and from her esteemed seating area on Weibo.
Do you blame her followers for being shocked and appalled (and let’s not forget jealous)? They shot back questioning the safety of the airline and why she was allowed to sit in the cockpit. Not to mention the increased security that makes such an event even more off-limits since heightened security measures were introduced after September 11.
After she did not receive the responses she expected, Ng removed the photos. But it was too late, they had already been shared on the internet.
The airlines put out the following statement.
“Cathay Pacific permits approved persons under the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department guidelines to apply for the use of the Jump Seat,” said a representative for the airline. “Eligible applicants include Cathay Pacific employees and their immediate family members.”
According to the South China Morning Post, the Civil Aviation Department has requested that the airline provide an explanation for the incident.
Now back to this writer’s experience. You know, the one I hinted about at the start of this article. From the cockpit of a particular airline, I can’t recall which one, but it carried myself and a group of journalists and other dignitaries to Dominica, West Indies. I was invited to sit in the cockpit with the pilot and co-pilot. My small seat was in between the two men, and I recall being thrilled and a bit nervous simultaneously. I also realized this would most likely never happen in the states.
My decent into the beautiful rain forest of Dominica is one I will never forget. The only scary thing was all I saw, even close to our landing, was lush green, jungle-like, foliage. No landing strip anywhere…until seconds before we were on the ground. It was also the first time I had ever seen bananas on trees (instead of in bunches on a store shelf); and they hung protected by a blue plastic.
Sitting in the cockpit is an experience I will never forget. And not unlike Ng, I snapped photos too (thought I’d have to do some serious digging to locate them!)
But no, its not an experience that I think should be offered “on the regular.”