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Southwest Airlines Pilots in ‘Feud’ With Crew at United Airlines Over Safety Incident Report By Commuting Pilot

Southwest Airlines Pilots in ‘Feud’ With Crew at United Airlines Over Safety Incident Report By Commuting Pilot

a group of men in a cockpit

Pilots at Southwest Airlines are said to be in a feud with their peers at United Airlines after a recently hired United Airlines who was using a jumpseat on a Southwest plane to commute to work reported the pilots to the FAA safety hotline.

A pilot at United has explained the situation in a now-viral social media post which was picked up by aviation insider Jon NYC on X, explaining that the United ‘jumpseater’ notified the FAA of the “inadequacies of the crew hose jumpseat they graciously offered”.

“Please mentor our newer hires on how to jumpseat properly and keep your damn mouth shut,” the leaked post continued. “At the very least, if you see something incorrect or wrong, very politely query the crew, if you feel you must, and let them explain themselves.”

The post then says that pilots who still feel uneasy about what they witnessed in the flight deck should first approach their union’s safety management team because before “running to the FAA”.

In this case, it appears that the United pilot had just joined the airline after transferring from a regional carrier. As is common practice within the aviation industry, the pilot doesn’t live in the city where they are based, so he was ‘commuting’ with Southwest.

As pilots from different US airlines have security clearance to sit on the flight deck as a passenger should the flight otherwise be full, the Southwest pilots let the commuting crew member sit in a spare ‘supernumerary’ seat in the cockpit.

Near the end of the flight from San Francisco to San Diego, the United pilot reportedly noticed that the Southwest First Officer was using the speed brakes without flaps and suggested that the flaps should also be used.

The Captain intervened, and after the aircraft had landed safely, the Southwest pilots thanked the United First Officer.

That, they thought, was the end of the matter, but the Captain soon discovered that an incident report had been filed after the United pilot called the FAA safety hotline. As a result, the Southwest pilots union got involved, and news of the incident soon started to spread.

As a result, some Southwest pilots have (perhaps understandably) been refusing to let United pilots jumpseat in the flight deck on their flights.

The general consensus, in this case, is that jump seating in the flight deck on another airline is a special privilege which comes with a long list of important but unwritten rules.

That shouldn’t negate pilots from reporting flagrant breaches of safety standards but in many cases this can be handled internally through special committees set up by pilots unions.

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