Saturday, February 14, 2004

So-called Christian pilot disciplined for loony rantings in the air 

AP (Dallas Morning News, registration required):

The chief executive of American Airlines has apologized after a pilot suggested that non-Christian passengers on a recent flight discuss the faith with Christians.

Gerard Arpey said the airline has grounded the pilot with pay while executives investigate the incident.

Arpey said he apologized to anyone who was offended by the pilot's comments on a flight from Los Angeles to New York.

"Let me assure you that we take this very seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation," Arpey wrote in a letter to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group that monitors anti-Semitism. He said American Airlines "promotes an environment of respect for the diversity of all persons, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, disability, gender, age or sexual orientation."

Foxman had written to Arpey that religious belief is a personal matter and the pilot had breached the privacy of passengers. He called the pilot's conduct "deeply troubling."

The airline said the Washington-based pilot asked passengers on the Feb. 7 flight to raise their hands if they were Christian. Speaking over the aircraft public-address system, he then suggested that other passengers use the flight time to talk to the Christians about their faith, an airline spokesman said.

An airline spokesman, Tim Wagner, said American was interviewing crew members and passengers who complained about the comments. The airline has also asked the pilots' union about the incident. Wagner declined to say whether American would disclose its final findings.

The pilot did not respond to an e-mail request for an interview.

Man, the last thing I want on a long-haul from Los Angeles to New York is for the pilot to suggest that it's OK for some SIC in the next seat to proselytize me for the next six hours. Yech....

For what the pilot actually said, see here.

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