Boarding the aircraft, all seemed normal. The flight attendants inspected people’s passes and the pilots were presumably in the cockpit. Everyone took their seats and as usual, there were unfortunates in the first row who arrived late and had to put their bags above row nine.

Once doors were closed, the cabin crew introduced themselves and even named two pilots. From there, the usual safety demonstration took place and we commenced the hideously long taxi to Amsterdam’s furthest runway, before taking off.

Phantom Pilots

Inexplicably, the cabin crew decided to take their break immediately after take-off, meaning hungry people like me got to wait for the food service. I thought it quite strange on a sector that usually has a little over one hour in the air.

It also struck me around this time that the pilots hadn’t introduced themselves. They usually take care of this sometime between boarding complete and leaving the stand, but as we left pretty swiftly, perhaps there was no time.

Eventually we had the cabin service and arrived over Ireland. Unusually, we then went into a holding pattern, circling north of Dublin for well over twenty minutes. Usually an apologetic message comes from the flight deck, to advise what is happening and our expected time of arrival.

Bong! The seat belts sign came on and the cabin crew did their ten minutes to landing announcement. Leaving the hold, we headed on down to the runway, landed and trundled off to our stand at Terminal 2. Not once throughout the experience did I see or hear from the pilots.

Overall Thoughts

Were there actually people piloting the plane? The cabin crew certainly thought so, mentioning the two gentlemen by name. Flying took place and everything seemed to go as expected. Or was it a computer? Were we in fact on board the first pilotless flight in Europe? To be quite honest with you, it could well have been, because there was zero interaction from the secure area up front.

It is quite unusual not to hear from the cockpit and even more so when arrival is going to be delayed. Usually the mere threat of having to hold has them on the intercom expressing their shared displeasure. Not this time though and I found it a little discourteous. The cabin crew also clearly knew we would be delayed, as they took their break first, knowing we’d be in the air longer than usual. Even they didn’t mention it though.

What do you think? Phantom pilots or just people who were possibly a bit shy and didn’t think to let the passengers know what was going on? What do you prefer, talkative or quiet pilots? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Jon Flobrant via Unsplash.
A320 cockpit via