Flying can be stressful, so a little light-hearted humor can go a long way, especially when it’s unexpected. A Quora reader recently asked what the coolest thing anyone has heard a pilot say and the internet did not disappoint!
Here are some of the best answers. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
1. A Salty Pilot With a Sense of Humor
On an evening Southwest Airlines flight, the cabinet lights dimmed once we were up in the air, as usual. The pilot came on the intercom and said, “We’ve dimmed the cabin lights in an effort to enhance the appearance of our flight crew. Sit back and enjoy the flight.”
2. Second Best
I don’t know if this qualifies as “cool”, but it gave passengers aboard our BA flight from Aberdeen to London Heathrow a laugh:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for choosing to fly with British Airways tonight, as you know, BA prides itself in having the finest aircrew in the world. Unfortunately, they can’t be we with you this evening, so you’re stuck with us”
3. Competitive Pilot
Quiet evening flight (only 25% full) just backing out of gate in Dallas/FW. Southwest pilot comes on and asks those sitting on right to move to the left so we would look full going by the competition. Some actually took him seriously and started to move. Flt attends. just rolled their eyes, guess they’ve flown with him before.
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4. Just a Little Problem
I was on a fully loaded plane when the pilot announced that they were experiencing some problems so there would be a delay and everyone should exit the plane in order to wait more comfortabally in the lounge.
As I exited the plane and turning to my right to go the louge. There was a large window that you could look out of and see the plane.
A large part of the underbelly of the plane was on fire.
5. Daughter Flies Plane
I was flying with my wife and daughter in a small rented plane where the pilot who was very experienced, as we flew over thick clouds, the pilot said to my young daughter sitting beside him, who was about 12 years old at the time,
“ I am a little lost above this thick white carpet of clouds, so if you see a hole in the clouds somewhere around, please take over the control and dive through it, as your eyesight is better than mine! “.
I had guided my daughter about the control of an aircraft and to my surprise, she told the pilot that she could see a hole in the distance, and he gave her the controls which she took, directing the aircraft to the “hole in the clouds”, where the pilot took over.
6. Who’s the Pilot?
When I was a boy — probably about 10 or 11 — a small municipal airport offered plane rides around the town I grew up in. You’d show up, pay for your ticket, and then get about 10 minutes in the air to see the sights.
A friend and I decided to take advantage of the offer. We were strapped into the small plane (a Cessna or something like that) and taxied out to the runway. As we lined up on the runway, the pilot asked both of us “Either of you been in an airplane before?” We both shook our heads.
The pilot pushed the throttle forward and said “Me neither.”
7. Second Time Around
After a very turbulent ride in a thunderstorm, we finally landed. The plane hit the runway hard and bounced a few times, then settled down and eventually rolled to a stop.
The pilot came on the intercom and said “Sometimes you have to let the copilot land the plane.”
We burst out laughing and the tension was eased.
8. Merry Christmas!
While taking a late Christmas Eve flight to visit my in-laws the pilot came on the intercom announcing in a very serious voice “ladies & gentlemen, please don’t be alarmed and remain calm…“ I, being a fearful flyer, immediately thought he was going to instruct us to assume the crash position and we were all going to die. Instead he says “ please look out the right-side windows at the bright red light a little past the tip of the wing. I’m not sure what it is , we could be seeing a UFO.” By this time I’m in full blown “I’m gonna die” mode. After a dramatic couple of moments hiss voice gets a little bit less serious as he says ““wait! Wait! It’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer pulling Santa’s slegh! Merry Christmas everyone!”
There was an audible sigh of relief from all of us passengers, then laughter and applause. He got us!! I’ll never forget this and giggle each time I think about it almost 40 yrs later.
9. Hang On to Your Seats!
Delta pilot on a Red Eye out of Ft Lauderdale(circa 1985) “ Good evening lady’s and gentleman, tonight we are aboard one of Delta’s brand new 757’s. This aircraft has good performance and wanted to inform you we will be climbing out at a fairly steep angle tonight.”
Takeoff was as directed, pilot hit the end of the runway and once airborne, put the nose up and powered out in the steepest climb I’ve ever experienced in a commercial liner. At about 10,000 feet he then banked hard in the steepest turn ever (for me anyways). On the climb out I was in the back of the plane, maybe 20 passengers total. Elderly lady across the isle with her head pasted to her headrest. Eyes as big as saucers. Yup, Captain had fun with his new toy. Best plane ride ever still for me in a Commercial liner.
10. More Bang for Your Buck
My favorite line was on a flight where we bounced a bit on landing. (Don’t remember where though.)
The captain got on the horn afterwards and said, “Welcome to (airport). And here at Southwest, we believe in value for your money, where you get two landings for the price of one.”
11. Even Scared the Pilot
Flying out of Chicago, we once were the last plane allowed to take off before a thunderstorm hit. The runway faced the storm, so the pilot had to bank hard to the left immediately after takeoff to avoid the storm. It was a little frightening to me (and other passengers) to bank so hard so close to the ground, but my husband has no fear of flying and thought it was cool. The pilot got on the intercom and explained the reason for the unusual takeoff, and soon we were leveled off and well clear of the thunderhead.
Later in the flight, the pilot was taking a break and walked down the aisle greeting the passengers, which was sort of cool. He got to our row and my husband said to the pilot “that was some takeoff! I loved it!” The pilot responded “I’m glad YOU enjoyed it. Scared the hell out of me!” (He was joking on the intercom the entire flight so I’m pretty sure—but not positive—he was joking then!)
12. Funny Pilot
This was a few years ago. Landed in Chicago and after taxiing forever (due to gate location plus construction), the pilot comes on and says “For those of you wondering about this ride, in order to keep our fares as low as possible, we land in Wisconsin and drive the rest of the way”.
One from a few years earlier, going from Colorado Springs to Tampa, thru Denver. The flight to Denver was normally about 20 minutes but we were delayed on the taxiway by about 1/2 hour; got to DIA and ran to be just in time to board the flight to Tampa before it left. Morning flight and I really needed to hit the restroom before we left. I’m in the restroom and the pilot comes on the PA system and says “Welcome aboard our flight to Cancun”. I was like, oh God, we’re on the wrong flight! I’m in a panic when he comes back on and says “Sorry, my 1st officer tells me we’re going to Tampa”. He was a character for the whole flight. – about halfway from to Tampa comes on with : “About now, most of you are probably wondering where we are. Well, so are we… because it seems that someone didn’t put their phone in airplane mode!”
13. Over or Under?
Many years ago I was working as a geologist in British Columbia, Canada. I had rented a small plane and pilot to do a survey in central BC, and we were returning to Vancouver when the weather began to close in on us. The pilot decided to follow the Fraser River back to Vancouver because the clouds had closed in on the peaks above us.
We were flying down the river when he said “Over or under?”
“What?” I responded.
“Over or under the bridge?” he said.
I looked up and saw a suspension bridge ahead of us with the clouds not too far above it. I didn’t respond, so he said, “Okay, over I guess”.
We cleared the roadway by about 40’ or so and then dropped back down closer to the river. Yeah, almost clean underwear time.
14. Close Call
Flying into Anchorage Alaska airport, mid 2010s, on final approach in those few seconds before the wheels touch and there area few seconds of near weightlessness. The aircraft suddenly goes to full power, veers hard right and violently ascends. After about 10 seconds the plane levels off and has a more typical flight path… All the flight attendants are wide eyed and the flight leader is on the phone with the flight deck. Just then the pilot comes on the PA system, “Well ladies and gentlemen, I guess you noticed we didn’t land… yep, surprised me too… turns out someone needed that runway and we graciously offered ours”. Later that night, the local news ran the story about a cargo plane taking off on the wrong runway, causing a commercial airliner to abort landing, and then turns towards the airliner instead of away, and that the two aircraft passed less than a quarter of a mile of each other. Glad I didn’t know any sooner…
15. It’s Kimberly’s House
My wife was on a large commercial flight across the country and it happened, by random, that the pilot was the husband of a cousin of hers.
As they approached LaGuardia, the pilot came on and said, “Uhhh… Ladies and Gentlemen, we are approaching LaGuardia airport. And if you look on the left side of the plane, you’ll see Kimberly’s house down there.”
Made her day!
16. Grand Canyon Tour
I was flying from California (can’t remember which city anymore) back home to Minneapolis. The pilot came on to tell us there was a backup in Minnesota and had to kill some time, so asked if we wanted to see the Grand Canyon? He flew and banked so one side of the plane could see, and then repeated for the other side. It was absolutely stunning. This was definitely before 9/11 when pilots maybe had more leeway to do such things. Have not had anything like that experience since.
17. Ruthless Granny
The pilot had really banged the plane onto the runway and was dreading having to stand at the door and thank the passengers as they exited. He was certain someone would have a comment, but no one did. He started to relax when everyone had gotten off except a little, old lady with a walker. But when she finally made it up the aisle, she stopped and asked, “Did we land or were we shot down?”
18. Look To Your Left
Pilot – “If the passengers on the right will look to their left, they will have the perfect view of the passengers on the left.”
Took all of us a few seconds then everyone laughed.
19. Well That’s Uncomfortable
Around 2018 on a flight from Washington Dulles to Johannesburg our pilot came over the speakers to tell us we were approaching some turbulence. ‘But don’t worry, it’s just like visiting your in laws. It’ll be uncomfortable, but it won’t last for long.’ There was applause.
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20. First Flight
My mom, a 62 year old woman, was frightened to death to board a plane and fly from New York to Tucson, Arizona. She had never flown in her life but was determined to go see her newborn grandson. It was her first time flying.
As she boarded the airplane, the pilot stood in the cockpit door and began greeting some of the passengers. My mom, with her voice quivering, shared with him that it was her first flight. With a grin he quickly replied, “Mine too!”.
21. Good News, Bad News
My sister in law was flying on a small commercial prop plane, just before landing the pilot came on and said “folks, I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is we have completely lost the hydraulics and will not be able to apply the brakes once we land. As some folks were starting to panic, he added-The good news we are landing at Dallas/Ft Worth which has some of the longest runways in the world and there is plenty of room for this baby plane to coast to a stop.”
22. Bad Passengers
We landed at JFK. It seems every passenger jumped out of their seat and opened the overhead. The flight attendant tried several times to get people back in their seats. Finally the captain announced ”Don’t make me pull this airplane over to the side of the runway.” I had heard that threat on car trips as a kid. Evidently the other passengers had not. The pilot stopped the plane until all the bags were stored, bins locked and passengers I buckled in their seats.
23. All-Girl Flight
On a flight to Germany from UK in the 90s, as we were taxiing to the take-off area, the pilot came on the tannoy and announced “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain, Tracy Smith, (consternation) speaking, and on behalf of my 1st officer Mandy (audibly sharp intakes of breath) and our cabin staff Sylvia, Maureen, Jane and Sarah (visible gripping of seat arms) we would like to welcome you on our all-girl flight to Lubeck. We hope etc etc…”
There was a stop half way which was a perfect touch down, and on the 2nd half the touchdown was also feather-light, and resulted in a round of applause from the assembled multitude.
Captain Tracy personally said goodbye as we all filed out…
I don’t think I’ve flown ‘all-girl’ since, but of course would have no hesitation in doing so.
I was on a small turboprop flight from Allentown to Pittsburgh, PA. About 40 minutes prior to our scheduled landing, the plane was struck by lightning which took out all of the electronic flight controls. The pilot calmly announced the “today’s light show was courtesy of Mother Nature and we’ll have you on the ground in about 15 minutes”. Being a former Naval avionics tech, I knew exactly what happened even though the pilot never actually announced it. He manually flew the plane the last 60 or so miles and landed it as smoothly as you possibly can under those conditions.
I introduced myself as I got off the plane, after waiting for everyone else to deplane. I commended him on his calm demeanor and flight skills. He told me it was easier than landing on a carrier with one engine and wings with holes in them while he was leaking hydraulic fluid. I saluted him and he returned it sharply. I left with a handshake and rented a car to drive home.
25. On and off Switch
I was flying from Glasgow to London a few years ago (ironically for an IT meeting) and waiting for take off when the captain announced “We apologise for the slight delay, but during our pre-flight checks the system flagged up a large number of faults. In fact so many faults that we thought they couldn’t possibly be true, so we powered it down and started it up again and everything shows clear now, so we’ll be taxiing in a few mintes.”
Yes they fixed a 737 by switching it off and on.
26. Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry
I was on a crowded flight to Texas. A woman boarded with a very upset 3 year old who was crying and carrying on. You could tell she was already at her wits end. A flight attendant walked over and asked the baby’s name, which turned out to be Elias. A few moments later, a voice came out from the cockpit on the PA system.
“Elias? This is Santa.”
The little boy sat up, focused on the disembodied voice.
“Elias, I want you to be a good boy so I can bring you something really good at Christmas, so no crying or fussing, ok?”
The little boy was wide-eyed as he nodded. He was quiet the whole flight.
27. That There’s the Concord
I was in an aircraft at JFK waiting in line for our turn to take off. Suddenly there was a rumble and the aircraft shook a little. Not enough to concern anyone, but enough for most of us to notice.
The pilot came over the PA and said “That, ladies and gentlemen, was the Concord.”
And we all looked out of whatever windows we could see in case we could catch a glimpse.
28. Terrible Drivers
Many years ago I was flying into St. Louis, and as we were taxiing up to the gate people started to stand to grab carryons etc.. And the speaker system suddenly announces “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated until we’ve come to a complete stop. Our pilots fly very well but they’re really terrible drivers”
29. Speedy Pilot
We had an unruly passenger before a flight. Rather than have cops drag her off, the entire plane had to get off, and re-board with the offender not allowed back on.
After we were back on, the pilot came on the speakers and apologized for the delay and said he would try to get us back on schedule and added “I’m gonna fly this plane like I stole it.”
30. Incredible Celebration
I have written about this before on Quora and I’m not sure if it’s allowed to repeat it but her goes. On the night of the 20th of July 1969, I was on a BAC1–11 flight from Tunisia to London on a clear dark night. Not long after take off, about 20:00 – 21:00 hrs , the pilot said “ Ladies, gentlemen and children (I especially remember he addressed the children) those of you on the left hand side of the aircraft will be able to see the moon, it is my pleasure to be able to tell you that humans have just landed on its surface”. The entire aircraft cheered and the cabin crew broke open the bar…. for free! I’ve never forgotten this incredible moment.
31. Baggage Delay
We were delayed leaving Charlotte about 10 years ago, when the pilot spoke over the intercom, “Those of you who are frequent flyers will have noticed that we have not yet left the gate. That’s because the machine we use to rip the handles and wheels off of your bags is broken, and the baggage handlers are having to do that by hand. Hopefully they’ll be done soon and we can be on our way.”
32. Hi, Scott!
My dad, a United Airlines 777 captain was flying me from The east coast to Denver on a normal scheduled flight. He didn’t like talking over the PA very much and always let his FO do the announcements. On my flight he talked about our flight, weather, flight plan, ETA, etc and at the end of his announcement he said “Hi Scott, nice to have you on board”. Obviously I started crying! I’ll always remember that! He passed a year ago January, he was a great pilot and a great dad!
33. Beam Me Up, Scotty
I can’t remember the exact departure and arrival destinations (it was some years ago) but we were flying British Airways transatlantic and had been delayed about an hour when the pilot came on the intercom just as we were pushing back and said “This is Captain Kirk and the crew and we are not on the Starship Enterprise so I can’t promise warp speed but I am sure we can make up for lost time on route”.
I don’t think there was anyone on that flight not crying with laughter and, yes, the pilot was indeed Captain Kirk
34. Clever Flight Attendant
We were returning from a family vacation. Our two year old was tied and refused to sit down. Our flight attendant had been talking with our youngest so he knew her name. Suddenly, a voice came over the speaker, “Ashley, Ashley, you have to sit down. The plane wants to go bye bye. Her eyes got big as she looked around the plane. Quietly she slid down her seat for the entire flight. Loved that clever flight attendant.
35. Safety First!
Following an aborted takeoff at CLT the airplane had to return to the gate for a maintenance check before another takeoff. As the plane taxied to the gate the first officer announced, “A warning light came on on our takeoff roll so we had to abort our takeoff. We have to return to the gate to have it checked out. This is a safety issue and your safety is our first concern. Well…actually our safety is our first concern but you are a close second.”
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