An off-duty pilot starting his summer holiday with his family ended up flying the plane to Spain himself after the original captain did not turn up.
Michael Bradley, who works for easyJet, announced to his fellow passengers from the tarmac of Manchester Airport that he had offered to step in and fly them all to Alicante in order to avoid a two-hour delay.
Pointing to his wife and son “sitting in row 15” of the plane, the airman said she had learned of the delay before they set off for the airport from home, and told him with a “punch to the back of the head” at 3am.
Because of this, he deliberately packed his licence and ID, just in case. Before going through airport security, he decided to make a call to see if his services were needed.
Recalling the incident over the public address system, he said: “So I phoned up easyJet and said: ‘Hiya, I’m standing in the terminal doing nothing… and I’d very much like to go on holiday – and if you need a favour, I’m standing here ready to go.’
“And they said: ‘We’ll phone you back.'”
The easyJet representative phoned back 38 seconds later, Mr Bradley said, with their official request: “Please, please, pretty please with a big cherry on top, could you fly the airplane to Alicante.”
Amid laughter and applause from the cabin, Mr Bradley said he hoped everyone would “be all right” with one of their pilots dressing in holiday attire rather than the usual uniform, adding: “Then we’ll go to Alicante.”
Michelle Hannah Potts, a passenger on the flight, detailed her experience on Facebook, saying she had been expecting a delay after seeing it on the board, before it abruptly changed to the original timing.
“Had to leg it across the airport to get on the flight,” she wrote.
Inquiring at the gate about the quick change, she said: “Asked the guy at the desk what’s going on and he said: ‘Oh your pilots gone missing but a guy that’s going on your flight is going to fly the plane.’
“Luckily the guy was actually a pilot! Probably would of been cancelled if it wasn’t for him! Legend.”
In a statement, easyJet said it was “grateful” to Mr Bradley for volunteering, saying it highlighted the “commitment and dedication of our crew wanting to go the extra mile”.
The company added: “This is fully in line with regulations as he had his licence and ID with him. Safety is always our highest priority.”
EasyJet said the delay to Mr Bradley’s flight was due to a knock-on effect of a French air traffic control failure on Sunday, which led to the company relying on standby resources across its network.
“[Mr Bradley] was well rested, having previously had four days off and was legally permitted to fly the aircraft,” the company said.
“Clearly, this is exceptional, but shows the commitment and dedication of our crew wanting to go the extra mile.”