Delays happen and much like your car, bike or whatever you use to get from place to place, mechanical issues happen. This involves mostly NONE of these issues. After a pretty ideal couple days in LA we were due to fly American Airlines First Class on their transcontinental three cabin flight to New York today, but for some very strange reasons, we’ll be flying much later…

To the point… the pilot may have lost his mind and a crew walked out on him…

Late Plane, Mechanical Issues And Then…

Like I said, delays happen. We were due to depart at 12:45, but due to late arriving aircraft our boarding was delayed about 30 minutes. Next, after boarding we had a theoretical hydraulic issue, which delayed closing the aircraft door and pushback over an hour, closer to two.

And Then We Returned To The Gate…

After pushing back from the hydraulic issues we made it about 20 feet. Yes, about 20. The captain announced very shortly thereafter that we’d be returning to the gate for a look at some visibility issues on the windshield. We didn’t think much of it.

And Then We Heard Rumblings…

A benefit of sitting in First Class is that you can often eavesdrop on crew, personnel conversations. You could see growing sentiment in the galley that the pilot (at the time, the identity of the frustrating culprit was unclear) was a constant nuisance for a reason I still don’t know. People wanted off the plane, and roughly 15 passengers de planed and were rebooked.

And Then We Pushed Back And Returned To The Gate… AGAIN.

So after 45 minutes or so of passengers yelling at (under equipped) ground staff. By the way, let me shout out our crew for a minute. They were awesome. They tried to remain friendly and deliver service as usual despite angry sentiment. And while we’re at it, the ground staff was ill equipped and virtually useless. So despite all, we pushed back again. This time we made it about 50 feet. Yes, 50 and the pilot said there was an “unknown” issue. He had no clue how long it would be.

And Then The Crew And Co Pilot Walked Out On Him…

The crew was really cool, open and forthright in a professional way. Without naming names we were told by a crew member that 4/6 of the crew members now refused to fly onward with the pilot, regardless of the status of the plane. This is irrefutable. We then witnessed the copilot walk away from the plane. An American ground agent said “that doesn’t happen every day does it”, to which the co pilot replied “that’s never happened in my life, I’m done, I’m out”. He was clearly furious, and immediately left. There was no question the captain was now the issue.

If The Crew Was Out, We Were Out…

So we returned to the terminal. We were able to luck out and have an American agent confirm us on a later (redeye) flight home, which is a massive inconvenience which will require missed appointments, but will get us home, hopefully in good safety. I’ve NEVER seen a crew walk out on a pilot. I’ve never seen a co pilot walk out on a pilot, and mind you, he was a replacement for the first co pilot, who apparently “timed out” due to time restrictions for pilots, but I now have my doubts, which are just that…

Did The Pilot Lose It? Was This A Long Time Coming?

My thoughts are with the pilot here. I don’t know whether he was the only one who saw something that maintenance, co pilot and engineers refused to see, or if he’s going through a tough time, much like the tough time we saw from a United pilot recently who showed up in street clothes and went on a rant. Either way I hope he is good. There was no rant here and I don’t have anything I can say as to his state of mind. I just know that crew and co pilots don’t often commit mutiny, and they seemed to have preconceived notions about the gent.

But Thankfully American Has Some Gems…

Richard Villa is Dallas made my day. He was able to swipe us two seats on our later flight, and we’re now (immensely) enjoying the Qantas impeccable first class lounge, thanks to my British Airways Gold status. This is an insignificant delay as time goes, but it had strange implications and potential for impact. I’m very glad to be sipping Mumm champagne on the ground…

Update: 6:45PM PST- A replacement crew was found and the #AA34 flight took off with new pilot and new crew. It will arrive in New York over 6 hours late. We’re not on it. 

 Update: 11:45 PST- I received a no questions asked $300 voucher for the inconvenience.