A bizarre misunderstanding of flight patterns at JFK

In one of the more bizarre AvGeek scenes I’ve seen on Twitter lately a passenger asked if the pilot was “drunk when he decided to go off route and into countless sharp turns” on approach into JFK last Thursday. When faced with reality – that airplanes fly specific routes to get to airports – she went off the rails, calling pretty much everyone presenting contrary evidence a troll and blocking them from her account.


Was that just a phrase used in jest? Seems not, as the follow up messages continue to insist the whole thing was a massive screw up and put passengers at risk, going so far as to pay to promote tweets to that effect. Even more bizarre is that she claims to be a reporter but struggles with the concept of communicating with sources and verifying facts.

Even after American replied (only to the initial idiocy) she continued to claim that the company did not address the issue and that other crazy factors are in play.

Yes, the plane was headed straight for JFK then went around the airport, out over the ocean and looped back to land on 22L. Just like ATC would instruct the pilot to do. In an email it seems she finally accepted that ATC may have given those instructions but believes they were “unauthorized” rather than legit.

She also seems to think that she still owns the rights to the content of that email even after sending it to someone else, so add that to the mounting evidence of an unfortunate separation from reality.

And normally I don’t really care about a crazy person with 1200 followers on twitter being crazy. But this one started with accusing the crew of being drunk. And that’s a very, very touchy subject. It is the sort of thing that can screw up a flight or a bunch of flights. It also can really screw with a crewmember. I doubt that AA is going to follow up on this incident, especially given that it was a completely normal operation. But I do know that other security-ish comments made via Twitter are taken very seriously. Pulling passengers or crew off of flights isn’t something airlines like to talk about but it can and does happen, sometimes because of tweets. So seeing the drunk pilot accusations here really bothers me.

Perhaps just ignoring the idiocy would be a smarter play. That’s what American Airlines seems to be doing and with good reason. But the drunk part pisses me off.

Oh, and she’s now switched her account to locked because the feedback she’s received is so overwhelming. Oops.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. On a more serious note, from my apartment in Queens you were able to see the approach patterns at night. The planes would look like a necklace of jewels lined up in the sky.

    1. Yeah, until it turns out she’s a random freelancer trying to appear more relevant than she really is by name-dropping the NYT bit. Someone did reach out to NYT though.

  1. Icing on the cake: she promoted the accusatory tweet. This was an attempt to make “Drunk airline pilots” go viral that backfired spectacularly.

  2. One would think that after so many people that have much more credibility about this than her that she would realize she was wrong. Instead, she blocked many of those people. She also blocked me, but only after I said I was going to take away the shovel that she’s digging a hole with. 😀

  3. This just shows how unfortunate it is that social media has such “power”. A perfect place for perpetuating hot air.

  4. If she’s looking for a new job, I hear they have some openings at CNN…

  5. I had the same thing happen to me with a taxi driver. Whenever the pilot’s kids need braces or a college fund set up, they run up the fare by adding extra miles to the flight. Thank you Ji Hyun for exposing this atrocity.

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