Pilot Turns Over London Flight to a Trainee and Lies Down for Nap in Business Class

I’ve frequently argued that Pakistan International Airlines is the worst airline in the world. But what’s finally got the government’s attention isn’t sacrificing a goat for safety or flying with more passengers than seats (and making customers stand for 1700 miles).

Boeing 777 on Approach to New York JFK in 2014, Copyright zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

Malfeasance of Pakistan International Airlines staff is de rigueur. As I’ve noted, “When PIA employees are forced to overnight passengers at a hotel at the airline’s expense, the employees earn kickbacks from those hotels.”

So it shouldn’t be surprising that a senior PIA pilot “decided to take a nap” in business class for 2.5 hours on an Islamabad – London Heathrow flight.

The pilot, a former President of the airline’s pilots union, turned over the Boeing 777’s controls “to a trainee pilot.”

Credit: Dawn.com

I had three reactions to this story.

  1. Crew rest is normal for long haul flights. It’s not uncommon for airlines to use premium cabin seats for pilots to satisfy their rest requirements.

  2. However assuming the pilot hasn’t operated other flights immediately prior to this one, they aren’t going to require rest during a flight blocked at just 8 hours 30 minutes.

  3. In this case it turns out that the pilot who was sleeping “was supposed to train” the junior first officer whom he left in the cockpit. That seems like a problem.

    On April 26, Hashmi was in charge of operating the London-bound flight along with first officer Ali Hassan Yazdani. Another first officer, Mohammad Asad Ali, who was under training, was also in the cockpit, the Dawn said.

    Mr Hashmi, an instructor, gets paid over Rs. 100,000 every month to train pilots. He was supposed to train Mr Ali during the flight. “However, instead of performing his duty, Mr Hashmi went for a quick lie-down.”

In fact, total flight time was just 8 hours 5 minutes.

The pilot has been taken off of flying duty pending an investigation.

(HT: Billy O.)

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 »

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  1. I was working at Lajes Rapcon in the Azores back in the early 80s (warning, war story). The Pakastani AF was flying in on a C-130 with a flag officer on board. We always got notification when a general/admiral was flying in. They landed, checked in to the officers billet and apparently began cooking fish, in a trash can, in the room, and set off the fire alarm.

    I has a friend who was a MSGT with the Fire Department on the base who was part of the response. They informed the Pakastani general that there was a fully staffed flight kitchen on the base, that they’d be glad to cook his fish for him, but that he couldn’t have it cooked in his room.

  2. If this airline is really that bad why do foreign countries even allow these flights into their airspace?

  3. You haven’t flown very many foreign carriers if you think PIA is the worst. Amazingly how much you and Lucky at One Mile At A Time disagree. He has also flown Pakistan International and he doesn’t consider it to be anywhere near the worst. Even the trio review one of your friends wrote from you doesn’t make it seem like the worst. Plenty of horrible Airlines out there, but PIA is not even in the top 10 worst. It’s not good by any stretch, but not as bad as you make it out to be. Air India, North Koreas airline have had similar pilot issues with corruption, safety etc. Even safety isn’t that bad as they are allowed to fly all over the world. What do you have against them?

  4. lol yall would be really pissed if you knew what pilots did during these long haul flights. The reason they have those harness straps in the cockpit is so the pilots wont hit their head when sleeping in their seats.

  5. This is awful! Is that a photo of the actual pilot? He should have bee fired!

  6. PIA still doesn’t drag passengers in the aisle after breaking thier teeth and nose and tupturing their lips just becouse they won’t give their paid for seats to airline employees.

  7. @John the review you’re referring to was of Saudia not PIA, and my reference to the worst is not strictly a reference to long haul passenger experience

  8. People used to joke around about what P.I.A stands for ( pain in you know where airlines). This is a government owned and subsidized airline of Pakistan, they had never turned profit in many moons. All employees are hired on as political favors not on merit bases. I remember in late 80s I was traveling on PIA,back from Karachi to NY, when plane landed at Shannon airport for refueling. When it was time to fly again, they announced that there is mechanical problem with the cockpit so go outside again and wait. When I passed by the air hostess and enquired about the problem, she told me that ther is problem with electric wiring. I inquired again that did they call airport electricians, she told me no but don’t worry , God will take care of all. I was shocked and scared with her reply and told her forget God, he is not gonna come down to fix your wiring, call the electricians to fix the problem otherwise I am staying in Ireland till I find a decent airliner. To be honest it should not fly nowhere and should be banned by all decent and concerned governments around the world, otherwise it’s a nightmare waiting in the wings, literally.

  9. My husband grew up in various parts of the third world and was forced to fly PIA a couple of times. The most terrifying two trips the family ever took. PIA is knowns as “Perhaps I’ll Arrive” airline.

  10. @Gary Come on – do I need to go Patrick Smith on you? I am sure this is a violation of the rules, obviously not ideal. But that “first officer” who was ALSO in the cockpit? Did you know he has the SAME qualifications as the “captain”? That’s right, there are no “type rating” differences – Captain has additional responsibilities but everyone knows how to fly the plane. Including that “first officer” who happened to be flying the plane when the captain went to sleep. There are hour differences, there are medical certificate differences, but no type rating difference.
    Anyway, I guess I’ll just go Patrick Smith:
    The difference between “left a trainee and a fully qualified pilot in the cockpit” and “captain died during a flight”? The former is safer and the latter happens in the US a few times every year.

  11. @garyleff, in response to your comment that you are not necessarily referencing long haul, but also short haul….I don’t think you can make so many claims that PIA is the worst if you haven’t even flown it short haul. Again, those that fly it, like One Mile At A Time, don’t think it’s anywhere near the worst. Like your readers mentioned, if it was near the worst, it wouldn’t be allowed to fly to the U.S., U.K., Canada, etc.. The truly worst Airlines are not allowed to fly to these countries. Please try and airline before you claim it is the worst. Again, not sure what you have against them!

  12. Spot on, B. The required number of crew onboard in addition to the trainee.


  13. Not fake news, there’s no suggestion that passengers were unsafe just that the pilot was in dereliction of his duty.

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