What's a pilot to do when he's in need of some shut eye? Not take a nap in First Class, it seems.
Passengers on board a United Airlines plane from Newark, New Jersey, to Glasgow, Scotland on Aug 22 definitely weren't expecting to see their captain snoozing on their transatlantic flight.
According to the Daily Record, an eye-witness, who happens to be a retired police officer, took a photo of the sleeping pilot after he had changed out of his uniform in the lavatory.
The pilot was wearing a T-shirt as he tucked himself into the converted bed, with his uniform laid out on the seat beside him. He reportedly woke up about an hour and a half later and asked to be let into the cockpit.
Said the passenger: "I don't think the captain of a flight packed with hundreds of people should be in such a vulnerable position," noting that police officers get a hard time when they are photographed sleeping in a patrol car.
"Surely if pilots are in need of a rest mid-flight, they should do it away from the passengers. I've travelled to the US many times and have never witnessed this," he added.
A cabin crew member for a major airline told the Daily: "This is not a procedure I recognise. It seems highly unusual for a captain to remove his uniform during a flight," adding that it is also "strange" that flat rest would be mandated for a flight that is under 11 hours.
"It's understandable that some passengers would be concerned."
An aviation expert also concurred that the pilot's behaviour was "most unusual".
But on popular airline group A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge, some people came to the pilot's defence.
“I wouldn’t want to be on a flight where any of the flight crew are fatigued, would you?” said a flight attendant. “The sleep depravity and fatigue you suffer in this job is horrendous, you only need two of them flying the plane, so we have three so that one can always rest."
Apparently, not all airlines are fitted with crew rest areas like those on fancy Dreamliners, reported News.com.au.
According to the report, United Airlines said in a statement: "On transatlantic flights, pilots are required to take a rest break. This aircraft is operated by a cockpit crew of three and this pilot was on his rest period."
So the next time you see a pilot snoozing in First Class, it's helpful to remember that pilots are human after all, and trust that the airline has got it all sorted.