Another Airline’s Pilot Stepped In On Southwest Flight When Member Of Cockpit Crew Fell Ill

A pilot had a medical emergency on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio today. The pilot was removed from the flight deck when this occurred, according to a spokesperson for the airline, and a pilot from another airline who happened to be on board “assisted with radio communication” with the other Southwest pilot commanded the aircraft.

This incident was first reported on Twitter by Charlotte-based American Airlines Airbus first officer Josh Yoder.

The aircraft initially departed on schedule, flew out over Utah north of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, before returning to the gate in Las Vegas nearly two hours later. The 18 year old ex-China Eastern 737-700 finally departed again for Columbus at 11:02 a.m. – four hours and 22 minutes after originally-scheduled departure – and arrived in Columbus at 5:01 p.m.

According to Southwest Airlines spokesperson Chris Perry,

Southwest Flight 6013 from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio returned to LAS after departure on Wednesday when one of our Pilots needed medical attention. The flight landed safely, and an alternate Flight Crew is operating the flight to CMH. We commend the Crew for their professionalism and appreciate our Customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation.

Naturally everyone’s thoughts are with the pilot who required assistance. Two pilots still make sense in the cockpit, though eventually that will change. Still, the single remaining Southwest Airlines pilot would have been capable of returning the aircraft to the ground. Having another airline pilot available to assist, though details aren’t available on whether they were type-rated for the 737, was certainly helpful and an additional stroke of luck.

My second thought of course went to a pilot falling ill in the cockpit and Ted Striker being asked to assist with the radio.

(HT: @crucker)

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, 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 »

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  1. This is precisely why airlines have a secure system to allow other airline pilots onboard and sit on the flight deck for jumpseating. In situations like this or other emergencies, the system at least saved a diversion but might have allowed the flight attendants to care for the incapacitated pilot while someone else’s pilot worked w/ the other pilot. The airline emergency is highly competitive but it is, at its bottom line, a great fraternity where the best don’t worry about brand as much as they care about helping aviation

    The more troubling part of this article is the sentence that was cut off
    “This is now the fifth pilot incapacitation that I’m aware of in the past two weeks.”
    If that is just on Southwest, that is mind-blowingly troubling. If it applies to all US airlines, it is concerning.

  2. What difference would type rating make on using the radio? Jetliners are jetliners, anyone who flies one will know the basics of how they all work, they just won’t know all the details a pilot needs when the feces hits the air mover.

    @Chad: Quit drinking the koolaid! That’s just death cult propaganda, the vaccine isn’t killing people like that. The only risk that’s higher from the vaccine than from infection (and at this point the majority of Americans have been infected) is having an allergic reaction to the vaccine. And that’s why they tell you to stay around for 15 minutes if you haven’t previously had that exact vaccine. Even that is a very low probability event.

    There have been a lot of “sudden” deaths–an expected result of what Covid does. It causes circulating blood to clot–and clots in the blood stream can cause sudden death. The vaccine doesn’t do this. If the vaccine is so deadly why do we see twice as many excess deaths (age adjusted, the raw numbers are even worse) amongst the Republicans as the Democrats?? Note that many of them do not get reported as Covid deaths.

  3. Loren – where is that data and what does political affiliation have to do with causality?

  4. @Loren
    “lot of “sudden” deaths–an expected result of what Covid does. ”
    what? 99.98% survivability rate.,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/

    care your source for Republicans getting less shots versus democrats
    you might get checked for TDS

  5. Sure Loren, a stunning retort, apart from the fact that the powers that be are going to great lengths to hide vaccinated status of the victims. I wonder why?

  6. I didn’t see where anything was mentioned about a type rating. I agree it’s not required but it would be much more helpful if the helping pilot had turbojet experience.
    And it looks like the majority of the people with health issues are either unvaccinted or had covid vs people who have been vaccinated. SWA probably has one of the lowest vaccination rates among major airlines, with AA being a close second.

  7. And people are proposing to have planes flown by just 1 pilot in the future. Sheesh.

  8. I agree that a future with planes having only one pilot is a scarry indeed. Espcially after the Wuhan Virology Lab resumes experimenting on new covid samples collected from additional bat cave expeditions OR the live raccoon dogs quietly return to the wet markets throughout China.

  9. @chad and Dougie: I saw you guys on 1/6. You were the ones using American flags to assault police officers. Good luck w/your sentencing!

  10. Keep drinking that Kool-Aid, Loren, and don’t forget to get your monthly booster. How is your mask supply holding out?

  11. Interesting. I assume the other pilot was in the jump seat but imagine if not. “Ladies and Gentlemen the co-pilot is asking if there are any pilots onboard our flight today. Please ring your call bell if you are a licensed pilot…any pilot really”.

    An interesting fact is that air traffic controllers and others can jump seat on flights at times. I’d assume an ATC’er would be qualified on radio coms as well.

  12. Remember, Ted Stryker landed the airplane and there were no casualties. That’s a good landing in my book.

  13. I love this blog. Come for the airline news, stay for the conspiracy nuts and Airplane! references.

  14. @Lauren
    Funny that these “incidents” only started after the vaxx rollout. For the worst part of the “pandemic”, nothing. You seriously believe what you’re saying or are you petrified every night when you go to bed that you may not wake up? I get t – if I was as vaxxed as you probably are I would be terrified as well…good luck!

  15. As a pilot instructor for a major airline, I always offer my assistance to the flight and cabin crew when I’m riding in the cabin. In my many years while riding in the cockpit and with the captain’s permission, I’ve moved into a vacant cockpit seat when one of the crew members leaves the cockpit on a long flight, even though I might not be rated for that aircraft…just in case. While riding in the back, I’ve been asked several times by the cabin or flight crew to assist with aircraft or passenger issues. Safety is the issue. Kudos to the unknown airline crew member who stepped to the plate. While the plane was in no danger, that extra set of hands and eyes takes a lot of stress from the remaining Southwest pilot.

  16. Loren is either a CDC plant or he is driving by himself with a double mask on while getting quadrupled vaxxed. Blaming sudden deaths on Covid is a joke when the CDC still considers a “vax” that doesn’t kill anyone.

    With voters that suck up fear like Loren, no wonder Dems still pitch this “Covid is so dangerous” garbage. Obviously he didn’t read the twitter files on how much the US govt lied about how dangerous Covid (and the supposed “vax” was).

  17. Southwest VP Suarez diversity chief—needs to fly only planes with a diversity hire in the cockpit

  18. Dear FAA,
    Please keep 2 certified pilots on board of every commercial flight forever.
    Thank you.
    For those of you who have been under a rock (under the influence of strictly mainstream media) for the last several years please do yourself and your families a favor. Just take a look at what was happening at Twitter and ask yourself “Have I been lied to by the msm these last several years??” The receipts are there, be honest with yourself.

  19. @Jason:
    Political affiliation is a proxy for how people view the disease. Those that take it seriously are half as likely to die of it.

    I don’t know about the specific data you’re linking–that’s an image rather than the actual data that can be checked. However, from what I can see I see a problem: It’s looking at the triple vaccinated–at a time when that would likely be those at the highest risk. This has been a common deception by the death cultists–ignoring the fact that those at more risk are more likely to be vaccinated.

    It’s not that they started after the vaccine came out, it’s that the death cultists started making an issue of it. There’s also the issue that the at-home tests mean we no longer have a meaningful picture of who is infected if they don’t have contact with the medical system–a Covid patient that dies at home will likely not be diagnosed with Covid.

    @John L:
    Getting your medical information from Twitter doesn’t work very well.

    You show the problem–a belief that the mainstream media is garbage. Of course you don’t have any reasonable picture of what’s happening in the world when you refuse to listen to anyone but your cult leaders.

  20. Loren, you are grossly misinformed. The evidence is overwhelming that those who received the experimental gene therapies suffered worse outcomes than those who made the appropriate choice. The increase in mortality, over the past two years, which is showing up all around the world is not related to Covid. The jabs are clearly not “safe and effective” and anyone capable of reading or watching something outside of CNN, The NY Times, or the Washington Post would know it. Do yourself a favor and get outside the bubble and actually do a little research.

  21. @James N:
    Things like CNN are pretty much worthless at scientific reporting–but stuff like Fox is even worse. If you want to understand you have to pay attention to what the scientists say, not what the reporters say the scientists say.

    As for getting outside your bubble–note that there are no gene therapies even proposed for Covid, let alone in use. That’s your “news” lying to you. What is in use are two approaches to slipping bogus production orders into cells–in neither case is the DNA even touched. Wave of death? Let’s look down under for a couple of examples–Australia and New Zealand. They did a good job of keeping the virus out while vaccinating. We didn’t see a wave of death until Omicron overwhelmed their quarantines. Or look at China–they used an old-fashioned killed-virus vaccine but they saw the same wave of death when Omicron overwhelmed their quarantine.

    As for the Republican/Democrat risk:

    I’ve seen many other such articles, this is just the one I found in my bookmarks.

  22. Try again, Loren. The jabs are clearly experimental gene therapies, as admitted by the companies producing them. We know they aren’t vaccines. I don’t get my information from a news source, Fox or otherwise. I do independent research and have an open mind. You’re wrong about the increased mortality, it is absolutely not related to Covid and that includes the obviously mild Omicron variant.

    Don’t feel bad about your lack of knowledge, you still appear to be part of the majority who remain uninformed about what’s transpired during the past three years. If nothing else, you can have a rousing conversation with Gary, another uninformed/misinformed adherent to the prevailing Covid narrative.

  23. Not a good career move for an American A32X pilot based at CLT to be tweeting his vax conspiracy nonsense (his bio and other tweets show this). Pilots and other crew usually promote to the public how safe flying is – not the opposite. Since I’m based in CLT too, guess I’ll be flying Boeing from now on so I know he’s not up front.

  24. He’s a standup , principled , reality based Guy who puts truth before the lies of the money masters.
    Those that follow the crowds, KC, are the real danger.
    Also , do you have proof of the so called “conspiracy nonsense”? There’s more than plenty of proof
    that he is correct.

  25. The other pilot riding the jump seat was a Netjets pilot. Lauren-is that air or marbles upstairs?

  26. @James N:
    The people who “do their own research” do not know what they’re talking about. You’re not doing research, you’re looking for things that agree with your position. The only people who truly can do their own research are people whose job it is to do such research. The average person simply doesn’t have the resources needed.

    And in practice “an open mind” normally translates as “willing to believe crackpot things”.

    Something which does not alter a gene is not a gene therapy even if someone calls it such. The people who actually understand will not make this mistake, so whatever source you’re looking at doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  27. @Loren, you should actually try to read past the headline, you dope. There is no MFA on the age discrepancies between the alleged “blue” and “red” counties. Nor do they discuss the relative BMI numbers, which both significantly skew the numbers. But hey, you read the headline and therefore you think you “know” something.




    Now I would say learn something, but it is clear you are totally incapable due to pure partisanship. There are way more variables which you refuse to understand that can skew that data outside of just “vaccination” alone.

  28. @Brandon:
    >@Loren, you should actually try to read past the headline, you dope. There is no MFA on the age discrepancies between the alleged “blue” and “red” counties. Nor do they discuss the relative BMI numbers, which both significantly skew the numbers.

    I didn’t notice that that article didn’t correct for age–but when you correct for age you still end up with considerable excess Republican death. And if it’s Republicans being older than Democrats why do we not see it before the vaccine came out?

    Note that your link is about cases, not deaths–this matters because Covid vaccination provides a lot more protection against death than it provides against infection. The vaccine worked pretty well against the Wuhan strain but since then there’s been enough immune escape that mostly it gives a milder case rather than immunity.

  29. @Loren, nice attempt at a gotcha. But are we talking about excess deaths, or deaths due to covid? There is a difference, you do realize that, right? Did you read the paper, or just stop at the headline…. again? Excess deaths can be from a variety of reasons not limited to strictly covid infections. Again, obfuscating facts to meet a narrative is dumb. It is well known, and shown through data that “left” leaning states are usually more healthy. Mississippi, for example, has the highest BMI in the nation. BMI, comorbidities and age are all factors for covid mortality. Age isn’t the only one. It is also shown that some of the hardest hit locations from covid were more of a result of age and obesity prior to the vaccine’s rollout.

    These silly comparisons about Reeeee, wepublican vs democRat are stupid. I bet you also didn’t care to notice the lack of differences in cases between x area and y area while parroting nonsense about mask mandates either.

    Look, you want to have an honest debate, then fine. I don’t parrot “conspiracy”. I will link to every study I have actually read and these types of arguments always fail because they aren’t grounded in actual statistics, but statistics people want to see. You want to see something interesting? Why is it that many countries in Africa have some of the lowest mortality rates from covid, along with some of the lowest vaccination rates? Are you really going to make the stupid claim its because they are democrats? Really? Stop wrapping your entire life around stupid partisan politics. I assure you, your politicians are just as narcissistic as the “side” you hate, and they care no more for you than the side you hate.

  30. Oh, and lest you think I am making things up, feel free to view the data for yourself that I reference here:


    Switch to relative pop, and compare deaths and vaccinations between Africa and the US. Then tell me again how this is about politics.

  31. @Brandon:
    > @Loren, nice attempt at a gotcha. But are we talking about excess deaths, or deaths due to covid? There is a difference, you do realize that, right?

    The reason we are using excess deaths to measure is that Covid deaths are clearly being undercounted–we’ve seen big jumps in causes of death that could be Covid, but it’s not across the board. The reason for this twofold–if Covid kills someone who isn’t in the hospital it likely will never be diagnosed, and there has been pressure to avoid declaring deaths to be Covid–they get listed as the immediate cause of death and the trigger ignored.

    While there are some cases that are truly with-Covid they’re far less than the ones that are never counted.

    > Age isn’t the only one. It is also shown that some of the hardest hit locations from covid were more of a result of age and obesity prior to the vaccine’s rollout.

    Completely ignoring the fact that the red/blue difference only showed up after the vaccine showed up. All of your factors applied in 2020.

    > Why is it that many countries in Africa have some of the lowest mortality rates from covid, along with some of the lowest vaccination rates?

    Two things: It didn’t surprise me one bit that Africa had a low Covid death toll–what would have surprised me is if they didn’t. The thing is the people at highest risk for Covid have mostly already been killed by other things over there. There is also the demographic trend–African populations skew very young. Good medical care is something available only to the elite–a tiny percent of the total.

    Second, it turns out they have an even worse counting problem than we do.

  32. You are completely full of excrement. You will literally spin anything despite literally zero evidence. Either give us a study, or stop lying. I showed you the factors for the reason africa was lower, and *HINT* it’s not partisan. Child. It’s hilarious you people will turn anything political because you don’t have any functional ability at critical thought.

    Your *one* flawed link is completely debunked when they refused to do a fully scale multivariate analysis to say “reeeee, muh side”. Grow up.

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