Dismay turned to delight for holidaymakers on a delayed flight to Alicante when an off-duty easyJet pilot who was also on board stepped up and flew the plane himself.
Michael Bradley was among passengers waiting to travel from Manchester on Monday when a missing captain forced delays to the easyJet flight.
The pilot, who had brought his licence and ID along with him, stepped up and offered his services on the plane tannoy – to a chorus of cheers and applause.
Explaining he had cleared the matter with the airline, Bradley said: “I phoned up easyJet and said ’Hiya, I’m standing in the terminal doing nothing. I have got my licence with me… I have got my ID with me and I’d very much like to go on holiday and if you need a favour I’m standing here ready to go.
“They said ‘We’ll phone you back.’ Thirty eight seconds later they phoned me back and said ‘Please, please pretty please with a big cherry on top, can you fly the aeroplane to Alicante’?
“So if you’re alright for one of your pilots to look like this today, we’ll go to Alicante.”
Passenger Michelle Hannah Potts posted footage of Bradley on Facebook, explaining what had happened and branding him a “legend”.
She wrote: “It could only happen to me!! Get to the airport and our flight is delayed a couple of hours... then I happen to look at the original time and it changed to gate closing!! Had to leg it across the airport to get on the flight...
Get to boarding and asked the guy at the desk what’s going on he said ′ oh your pilots gone missing but a guy that’s going on your flight is going to fly the plane ’REALLY CASUALLY!!!
Luckily the guy was actually a pilot!! probably would of been cancelled if it wasn’t for him! Legend.”
An easyJet spokesman told HuffPost UK: “We are grateful to one of our pilots who was travelling on holiday from Manchester to Alicante on September 2 with his family and volunteered to operate the flight. This meant customers could get to their destination and shows the commitment and dedication of our crew.
“This is fully in line with regulations as he had his licence and ID with him. Safety is always our highest priority.”
The airline said the flight was delayed because of the knock-on effects of the French air traffic control failure on Sunday. It added that Bradley was well-rested and had had four days off before lending his services, in what it called “exceptional” circumstances.