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Will JetBlue Captain's Frenzy Lead To The Retirement Of A Flight Number?

Posted: 03/28/2012 3:50 pm Updated: 03/28/2012 3:50 pm


A day after a crazed JetBlue captain tried to barge into the cockpit of the plane he was co-piloting to Las Vegas, Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal asked in his Middle Seat Terminal column whether the plane's flight number, 191, came with baggage.

In the article, McCartney stated that flight number 191 was the "most tragic" of flight numbers, noting such tragedies as Delta Air Lines Flight 191, which crashed before landing in Dallas in 1985, killing 137 and a 1979 American Airlines flight 191, which crashed into a field, killing 271 people.

Commenters on the article noted that there were other incidents not mentioned, including Comair Flight 5191, which crashed in Kentucky, killing 49, among others.

According to McCartney, both Delta and American have retired those flight numbers as airlines retire numbers after an incident. When reached for comment by The Huffington Post, JetBlue said they had "no intention" of retiring the flight number at this time.

In May 2011, United Airlines caught flak for accidentally reusing flight numbers 93 and 175, the numbers of the United aircraft used in the 9/11 attacks.

The broader question remains: Are flight numbers retired out of courtesy or superstition? After all, many airlines remove row 13 when they order airplanes for their fleets -- some international airlines, such as Lufthansa, eliminate row 17, as it is seen as bad luck in Italy and Brazil, a spokesman for the airline told AOL Travel last year.

Similarly, a 2007 Gallup/USA Today poll showed that 13% of people would be bothered to stay on the 13th floor of an hotel.

Should airlines retire flight numbers after crashes but not incidents such as the JetBlue captain freakout? Or is flying so nerve wracking that there should there be a blanket rule about retiring flight numbers involved in any incident whatsoever?

Quick Poll

Should flight numbers be retired following an incident?


Check out passengers' videos and news reports on Tuesday's pilot meltdown below.

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  • JetBlue: Pilot Experienced "Medical Situation"

    Passengers tackled the pilot of a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas, after the pilot became irate and rambled about Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. JetBlue says the pilot suffered a "medical situation." (March 28)

  • Neighbor: JetBlue Captain 'A Good Guy'

    Thomas Consiglio, whose grandmother is the longtime landlord of JetBlue Captain Clayton Osbon, said Wednesday he couldn't believe that Osbon was involved in disrupting a flight on Tuesday. (March 28)

  • JetBlue Pilot Restrained on Flight from New York

    A JetBlue captain had to be restrained by passengers after he was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot.

  • JetBlue Las Vegas Flight Diverted After Captain ‘Went Nuts' Mid-Air

    A JetBlue Las Vegas-bound flight was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, Tuesday after the pilot reportedly had a mental breakdown, telling passengers to "say your prayers."

  • JetBlue CEO: Captain a 'Consummate Professional'

    Passengers aboard an early morning flight bound from New York to Las Vegas first noticed something wrong when the plane's top pilot came out of the cockpit, didn't close the door and tried to force his way into an occupied bathroom. (March 28)

  • Raw Video: Passengers Restrain JetBlue Pilot

    Amateur video emerged on Tuesday purportedly showed men holding the pilot aboard a flight from New York to Las Vegas after he began behaving erratically and shouting at passengers. (March 28)


Filed by Kate Auletta  |