The Kind of Folk Who SUCK to Fly with

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 21 seconds

Pilots sitting on the dock in the Maldives, finishing up boarding.

I’m writing this for two sorts of people. The pilots who are going to nod along the whole time through the article and feel extra validated, AND the ones who are going to turn around from this feeling like, “…is this me?”

Whether you’re the employee at a large commercial airline, or the pilot ‘stuck’ flying at a Canadian 703 or American part 135 operation… this all applies regardless. Read on, and see what you think for yourself.

The fellow who introduces themselves with a long list of what they hate. Policies, people in your company, your current crew, their spouse, their cousin, just whoever.

Nothing escapes this guy’s poop-list. There’s little to gained from a in-depth conversation with this fellow, so don’t be discouraged if you try – and fail – to discuss just what is bugging him. This guy sucks to fly with because it sets a negative tone for the entire flight. It’s like you’re being told, “things suck, they’re so terrible! But there’s nothing I can, or will do to fix it.” YOU’RE the punching bag now, and buddy expects you to just stay silent and listen. But don’t you dare contribute anything but more negativity! Solutions will set him off, and place yourself squarely on the arbitrary poop-list too.


He runs to the plane, balancing his flight bag, his carry-on man purse, two coffees, and a water bottle. The coffee is seconds from spilling all over his stuff. You pack a little lighter, and didn’t grab a coffee, so you only have one bag slung over your shoulder. Why, oh WHY, doesn’t he ask for a little help with carrying something? He seems stressed now to top it off.

He’s fine to fly with for the most part, but occasionally breaks SOPs to do what should be your job. When confronted, he brushes it off as, “oh, it’s just easier if I do it.”

When you walk away from a flight with this fellow, you feel less like a crew member and more like someone who just watched a boring sitcom. We all work hard to be good pilots, and it’s annoying as all heck when someone takes your moment away from you, sometimes for no good reason. And if you’re a little SOP-monster like me (you all should be!), your hair is also standing up because of the break in SOPs.

What the heck? The guy who is off in complete la-la land.

You’ve never said “what the heck?” so much during a flight. I sort of divide this into two subcategories. The la-la land guy who has something going on in his life that’s distracting him, or maybe he really IS in some sort of make-believe land in his head, is the first type. You have to ask him the same question twice, maybe three times before he responds. He seems deeply startled when you speak, like you’re pulling him out of another, higher dimension. You’re a little concerned that if there was a real emergency, how fast would he take to respond and act? This guy sucks to fly with if you’re the person who likes to stay alert and prepared – who knows if this guy is ready to do the same when a surprise arises – and minutes matter. Now instead of relaxing, you spend the whole flight extra alert, and wind up feeling truly exhausted afterwards.

Type 2: this guy IS in another world, but he’s trying to give you a passport to coo-coo land too too! Aliens visiting him 10 years ago, 911 conspiracies, weird comments about marginalized groups, how vaccines inject mind-control devices, fake facts abound in the cockpit. Your head is internally screaming, “I want off this wild ride!” but at the same time, you’ll know this will make for a truly hilarious story when you re-tell it later.

His Royal Highness King Pilot of Canada, Prince of Aviation

Otherwise known affectionately in pilot circles as “God’s gift to aviation”. This man (or woman) is the standard for all pilot’s everywhere in their own minds. No move, no button pushed, no radio call, by this pilot could ever be a mistake. If something happens during the flight, it is always the fault of outside sources. Some of these folks have a short fuse for those who do not agree with and acknowledge their greatness. These guys generally will micromanage your every move to death and use it as an opportunity to teach you how bad of a pilot you are, and how amazing they are in comparison. Not only that, but because you are not them, you actively cannot be trusted. If you have anything to say, and it doesn’t match what the Lord King thinks about the topic, off with your head! CARs and AIM be damned.

Mr. “How do you NOT know this?”

People of this sort are real peaches when it comes to sharing knowledge in the cockpit. If you dare ask a question, or admit that you don’t know/forgot something, be prepared to feel like a fool. I saved the worst for last here, as I truly believe this kind of person is not only horrible to work with, but that they have NO place in the cockpit. Especially not in a position of leadership, such as sitting in the left seat. To create an atmosphere where people are afraid to point something out (hey, what’s that light for?) or ask questions (what would you do if the runway is super iced up?), is actively dangerous. You’ll be able to spot these people not visually, but in your gut. Questions will be met with an audible, dramatic sigh, they’ll be curt in their responses, and overall super rude that you DARED to not know something they consider obvious. Take these folks, open the emergency exit, and throw them out of the airplane.

Just kidding. But don’t be afraid to point out to them that their attitude isn’t conductive to a safe environment. I have a sneaking suspicion a lot of these types are never confronted – hence why they persist at all workplaces.

Now it’s YOUR turn my dear friends. Is there any type of co-worker that I left out in this article? Share in the comments, let’s get the conversation started and see if we can make out a few more hair-pulling types.

Lots of love, Shavonne

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