3 Different Pilots Declared Fuel Emergencies to Jump Ahead of Each Other for Landing

Doctors, especially surgeons, can hold life and death in their hands. Their skills can rescue someone who, without them, would come to the end of their life. That’s a tremendous power and responsibility. Do that over and over, with not just a person hanging in the balance but all of the hopes of their loved ones as well.

Pilots carry a huge responsibility. Throughout most of human history people couldn’t fly. But here we are, hundreds of people in a plane relying on the person sitting in the little room at the front, lives hanging in the balance. And if a pilot ever watched Alec Baldwin in Malice, well, they might even want to be a doctor.

In India the pilots seem to have even more of a swagger than Alec Baldwin. If they want to land on a road, they may just consider landing on a road. They fight each other. If they’re scheduled to fly somewhere they don’t want to go — even for an airline’s inaugural flight — they simply don’t show up.

And if they don’t get assigned their preferred female crew on a trip to the Maldives they’ll refuse to take off until the airline sends her onboard.

So it probably shouldn’t be that surprising that three different pilots, of three different flights, all faked fuel emergencies on the same day at the same airport to get priority landing clearance.

At the Kolkata airport on November 30:

  • An IndiGo pilot declared a fuel emergency in order to jump ahead of more than half a dozen planes waiting to land.

  • Overhearing the conversation an Air India pilot then declared a fuel emergency, too.

  • Then a SpiceJet pilot did as well.

  • Even though all “had enough jet fuel to fly to an alternative airport and attempt at least two landings”

Even though air traffic conversations are recorded, SpiceJet says their pilot didn’t really do it.

(HT: Emily McNutt)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. That was some intro to the post. Your introduction was longer than the point of the post…never a good thing.

  2. When the flight landed and taxied to the gate, there was no airport crew available to move the jetway to the aircraft since the flight arrived ahead of schedule. Time to spare, travel by air.

  3. Sounds a bit like the Israeli El Al pilots who have been deliberately lengthening the flight time from Tel Aviv to New York to over 12 hours so they can get paid overtime, as increased rates kick in for flights longer than 12 hours.

  4. “Do that over and over, with not just a person hanging in the balance but all of the hopes of their loved ones as well.”

    This does not seem to be a sentence. I find myself increasingly frustrated by the readability of this blog.

  5. If a commercial pilot did this in US or most other western countries, they would certificate action at the very least. Unprofessional, dangerous, childish, immature are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind. Indian airlines are on my “do not fly list” prior to this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *