ATLANTA — An Eastern Airlines senior pilot who was waiting for takeoff clearance behind a long line of jets told passengers he was "sick and tired" of airport delays and walked off the plane.
Eastern Flight 141 was about to leave Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport late Tuesday for Pensacola and Tampa, Fla., when the pilot got fed up, Eastern officials said.
He returned the plane to the gate and got off.
Eastern spokesman Glenn Parsons said the unidentified pilot, who is based in Miami, was grounded pending review of the incident. He was scheduled for an interview with airline officials today.
Numerous problems, including a galley door that refused to close properly, a fuel shortage and the late arrival of the pilot himself already had hampered the DC-9's departure before the pilot walked off.
'Just Bear With Us'
Fred Fox, a photographer for the Tampa Tribune who was aboard the flight, said the pilot chatted normally while taxiing to the runway. He welcomed passengers aboard, identified himself and apologized for the delays.
As the pilot moved the plane behind a long line of jets waiting for takeoff, however, his tone changed.
"He said, 'It looks like we're going to be about 15 to 20 minutes just sitting out here, so just bear with us,' " Fox said. "Then there was a pause, then the first thing he said was, 'You know, there's a saying that when you die, you have to change in Atlanta.' "
"Then there was another pause and he said, 'Well, I'm fed up. I'm sick and tired of the delays, tired of the waiting, so you can have it,' he said. 'I'm hanging it up. This flight is my last flight.' "
The pilot then stalked off the plane.