A passenger in the United States has claimed that his girlfriend was moved from her first-class seat in the airline so that an off-duty pilot could take her seat instead. The incident took place on an American Airlines flight, as per a report in the Independent. The passenger in a now-deleted post on X, formerly Twitter, said that a gate agent upgraded the couple to first-class. Sometime later, they were informed that his girlfriend’s seat was broken and they had to move her “to the back”. Jake Williams claimed that a pilot took the seat in her place.
“You all are terrible. You (gate agent) upgraded my girlfriend and I to first class. You kick her out because broken seat move her to the back. Then pilot sits in said broken seat,” he said. He also posted a video that showed a man in a pilot uniform settling into a seat. It remains unknown when and where the incident took place.
On Tuesday, an airline customer care agent left a comment below the post, stating that they would “take a closer look” at his allegation.
It is to be noted that it is a normal practice in the aviation industry for off-duty pilots to be seated among passengers. This practice is known as “jump seating” or “deadheading.”
According to an article in the journal ‘View from the Wing’, American Airlines pilots have first-class precedence during deadheading due to a union deal, although employees of other airlines usually sit in the economy section. It claims that when it comes to upgrades, American Airlines deadheading pilots are given precedence over passengers. The reason is that pilots can get better sleep before operating passenger aircraft because of the bigger and more comfortable seats in first class.
In a similar incident, an elderly man was downgraded from business class to make space for an off-duty pilot. The 78-year-old flew Qantas and was moved to the economy section after there were no business class seats left. “As part of their enterprise agreement, pilots that are flying to another city to then operate flights are to be provided with a seat in Business,” the airline said in a statement to Insider at the time.