Trial is set next month for a United Airlines pilot who was arrested after pushing a gate agent at Denver International Airport last December. Captain John Rood allegedly became irate when the agent refused to allow a jump seater’s luggage from being stored inside the cockpit where they would be sitting. The unnamed person fell scraping his finger and when a police officer arrived at the gate, they stated Mr. Rood was “highly agitated and uncooperative” refusing to provide information. United called in a relief pilot after Mr. Rood’s arrest.
Now, I can easily visualize this scenario and imagine just how heated with adrenaline the pilot must have been. While his actions were severe and his inability to calm himself in the heat of the moment is inexcusable, I understand the principal of his argument. As Scott Rickenberger, pilot and GM of Journeys Aviation in Colorado told Colorado 9 News, “The captain, or the pilot in command, is ultimately responsible for that aircraft. And he has the final say on what goes in his aircraft.” I would have to assume, then, he also has final say of where in the cabin & cockpit things are stored.
According to the article, fellow pilots sympathizing with Mr. Rood have gone as far as posting the agent-in-question’s name and ID info on aviation-related websites & encouraging slowdowns when flying out of his gate. I hate to hear of this kind of retaliation, but I suppose it’s to be expected. Politics are politics no matter where you work and at all levels of professionalism.
It’s my opinion that both parties were wrong. While I sympathize with gate agents and their need to gate check passenger bags that REALLY can’t fit, he overstepped his authority for an OMC (Observer Member of the Crew) flyer. And there’s of course no doubt the pilot acted egregiously.
My prediction for the outcome is that the pilot will be required to complete some type of counseling & anger management program, and told to have no contact with the gate agent in the future. Assuming he complies with all of the court’s requirements, he’ll avoid further jail time & likely continue flying for United Airlines. So what’s your opinion?