However, this was a 7-hour flight from Newark, New Jersey to Glasgow. And the captain took a nap in first class, where passengers got to see them and understandably freak out. We should note, though, that the United Airlines aircraft was being operated by a 3-man cockpit crew, so it wasn’t like the captain put it on autopilot and went to catch some z’s.
Still, the sight of the captain out of his uniform, dozing off, was very unsettling. A former police officer who now works as a security adviser snapped a picture of the captain and is telling the Daily Record that this put passengers in harm’s way.
“The captain went to the loo and changed into a T-shirt before going for a sleep in first class. When he woke up, he changed back into his uniform and radioed for access back to the cockpit. Police officers get a hard time when they are photographed sleeping in a patrol car,” the man says.
“I don’t think the captain of a flight packed with hundreds of people should be in such a vulnerable position. He slept for an hour and a half, then the first officer went for a sleep. The flight was about seven hours. Surely if pilots are in need of a rest mid-flight, they should do it away from the passengers,” he adds.
Aviation experts agree with him that this was a most unusual sight. First of all, the flight wasn’t longer than 11 hours and secondly, the man should have been resting inside the cockpit.
Still, United stands by its captain: in a statement to the same media outlet, the company says that the man was on his rest period and that it posed no risk to the passengers since 2 other pilots were in the cockpit when this happened.