Captain Happy Gets Really Snappy To Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers are supposed to have absolute command over what planes do in the vicinity of airports because they can be responsible for hundreds of flights. No one wants to have two planes try to occupy the same space at the same time.
So it was natural for someone in the control tower of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, still the world's busiest, according to the Airports Council International, to take notice when arriving Delta flight 2242 allegedly landed on the wrong runway.
"Delta 2242, you're supposed to be on Mike," said the unidentified controller, referring to the specific taxiway the pilot was supposed to use, not Lima, the one he was on. Another plane was on its way to that same taxiway.
"Hey, you know what?" said the pilot, "We'll taxi out there any way we want when you tell us to. I don't like your attitude."
The controller responded, "I don't have an attitude, sir, I'm just saying it looks like you joined Lima instead of Mike and I'm just trying to correct you before you stay on Lima."
The pilot wouldn't drop the issue. "OK, because, my God, there's another plane out there. It's like six miles away. Your attitude is really something, sir. We're out here on Mike. Good morning."
"Good morning," the controller answered. "There was no attitude. I'm just trying to correct you. That's my job, to correct you if you mess up. I'm trying to make sure everybody does what I ask them to do for certain reasons."
"Alright," the captain said. "I make a mistake every two to three minutes, but my attitude is not like yours. We're out on Mike. You didn't tell us how to get there so next time you can try doing that."
Clearly someone didn't know where the plane was or what the taxiway names were.
Another pilot hearing the conversation over the air broke in: "Settle down, Captain Happy."
According to WSB, Delta, which is based in Atlanta, is investigating the exchange and said that customer safety was never in question. Too bad the same couldn't be said for the plane's location.
Update 12:49 7/29/2014: A previous version of this story described the plane as being on the wrong runway. It was on the wrong taxiway.