Nature waits for no man, but it’s easy to guess that the passengers aboard a recent flight to New York City wish the pilot had waited to use the bathroom. When the pilot slipped out to heed nature’s call, he got trapped in the plane’s restroom, and when a well-meaning passenger tried to help, in this jittery post-9/11 world, the situation quickly spun out of control. What was a suspected terror threat turned out instead to be one man’s most embarrassing day at work ever.
According to the New York Post, the comedy of errors began when the pilot left the plane in a holding pattern over New York’s LaGuardia Airport to use the lavatory. When the bathroom door got stuck, he banged on the door for assistance. A helpful passenger heard his calls and on the pilot’s advice, ran to the cockpit to alert them to the situation. Unfortunately the man’s frantic pounding on the cockpit door, got the co-pilot concerned enough to radio dispatch and seek advice. The plane’s recording equipment captured the call: “The captain disappeared in the back, and, uh, I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit…What I’m being told is he’s stuck in the lav [lavatory], and, uh, someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit.”
(PHOTOS: Up in the Air: Kite Photography)
Understandably, this call raised the alarm at air traffic control. They in turn alerted the Port Authority, the FBI and fighter jets. As the troops were being mustered, the captain finally managed to extricate himself from the bathroom. Once back in the cockpit, he was able to thwart any further cause for alarm, by explaining that, yes, he had to use the bathroom and got trapped in there. His assurances were enough to insure that the fighter jets were not launched, however the FBI and Port Authority still met the flight when it landed at LaGuardia Airport. Police officers interviewed the passengers and confirmed that it was all a big, embarrassing misunderstanding.
At least it will make a great story around the Thanksgiving table.