Two U.S. Airline Pilots Shot In Colombia

Two U.S. airline pilots were shot during the same week in Colombia this month. One incident occurred in Bogota and the other in Cali – both had been robbed at gunpoint near their layover hotels. Fortunately both are expected to recover fully from their injuries.

Carriers are reminding crew to be on alert during their foreign layovers, as reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC,

There’s an American Airlines safety memo as well. Last year American Airlines crew were robbed at gunpoint on their way to the San José, Costa Rica airport from their hotel. And the year before an American Airlines pilot was caught in gunfire outside a Puerto Rico strip club.

Bad things can happen anywhere, but risk goes up in certain places – Colombia is much safer than it was in decades past, Cali especially, though my non-expert sense is that it may not be as safe as it was late in the last decade. It’s striking that two pilots were shot in unrelated incidents in the same week.

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. Both crew that were shot last week were from United.
    Something must have happened at Delta as well last year. Another Delta pilot going through Customs last October asked me if I came to Bogotá often, and what I knew about the security situation there. In our conversation he told me that the pilots (Delta), cannot leave the hotel now without a security guard with them. And, the Delta Flight Attendants no longer layover in Bogotá, they are doing turns back to Atlanta.
    On that layover last October two of my crew that I told not to go downtown did, and were robbed. Definitely don’t leave the hotel with items you don’t want to lose, carry enough pesos to keep them happy if you do get robbed, and never resist. Hold your hands in the air and let them take what they want…….

  2. How about the airline crew (and many others) who were robbed and held hostage for 3 hours at Christ the Redeemer in Sao Paolo a few years ago.

  3. You should verify the information since both United or Delta does not fly to CLO and there were 2 incidents, also was it necessary to include strip club? There are family’s involved and your and the entire team of view from the wing have proved to be very insensitivity for years!

  4. Us from 3rd world countries know that we, law-abiding citizens, don’t have the privilege of a 2A back in our homecountries to be able to defend ourselves, only criminals have guns so they know they have the clear edge. Now there are rumors of AA resuming flights to my homecountry (Venezuela). Most of the crews of the few airlines left flying there stay at the Marriott Playa Grande, it’s the absolute best option close to maiquetía airport but the roads to get there are a death trap (well, more or less like all of the rest of the country tbh). Hope AA thinks it twice before resuming the route an exposing their crews to that extreme danger.

  5. Have spent time in Colombia including Bogota. It is a place you need to know what you are doing and you really should speak the language. Robbers there have no problems shooting anyone who does not immediately comply. There isn’t any hesitation. It is a shame as it is a really nice country with soo much potential.

  6. I’ve been to tons of places in Bogota. If you act like a typical American you’re gonna get attention you don’t want. The red light district is super safe and chill, just cab in and out. Criminals like to hangout near hotels because that’s were the easy money is.

  7. An Iberia purser was shot in a leg last week when arrival at Cali Hotel. He needed surgery,

  8. I guarantee that if you knew the whole story, you’d go…. “Oh!, they were where?? At what time???”

    Apparently United does not fly into Cali. What was the pilot doing there? Another pilot caught in crossfire outside a stripclub? Come on

  9. I second the red lights district is safe. Stay near the crowd, good times. Cab in and out and arrange for the driver to wait for you. It’s no more than 20 bucks for several hours.

  10. Both Colombians and Americans(USA) live in 2 of the more dangerous countries in the world.

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