JetBlue Crew Commotion: What's the Deal?

JetBlue Airlines
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JetBlue Airlines

I’ve flown more than a million miles so far but have yet to encounter a situation like what happened on JetBlue Flight 191.

A JetBlue pilot had a meltdown onboard a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport to Las Vegas causing the flight to divert to Amarillo, Texas, according to published reports.

Late Wednesday, the pilot Clayton Osbon formally was charged with interfering with a flight crew.

Passengers said the pilot had to be restrained after he pounded on the locked cockpit door. The pilot has been removed from all active duties and responsibilities, pending further investigation, JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young said in an email Wednesday to CNBC.

There seems to be an increasing amount of airline crewmembers causing disruptions, and this is the second notable one for JetBlue. After a dispute with a passenger, flight attendant Steven Slater made a now infamous exit from his plane by grabbing a beer and sliding down the emergency chute at JFK in August 2010.

A couple of weeks ago, an American Airlines flight attendant had to be restrained after claiming the flight was going to crash while the plane taxied to the runway.

So what is it exactly that’s causing these episodes? JetBlue cited “medical issues” as the cause of Tuesday's incident.

I was on a flight once from Reno to Los Angeles where a passenger boarded to find someone sitting in her assigned seat. The flight attendant and gate agent moved her to a new seat and she just snapped and started to swear loudly as she sat down in her new seat. It didn’t stop there.

As boarding continued, she kept swearing, causing many passengers to gasp. The captain ended up coming back to speak with her to ensure she would calm down, and it seemed like everything was settled.

After pushback, the flight attendant was making her seat-belt checks when the passenger again barked out profanities. We ended up returning to the gate and police escorted her off the aircraft. The flight attendant was exceptionally professional and kept her composure throughout the ordeal. I’m not sure if I would have been able to do the same.

So it appears that seemingly recurring news about disruptions onboard aircraft are more and more involving crewmembers. It’s a sad new reality and with the modern age of video cell phone capabilities, I’m certain we’ll continue to see first-hand footage on the nightly news.