Plane Delays Landing for Tea Break

Status: True
Imagine getting delayed because of this:

STUNNED holiday-makers flying back to Britain from Tenerife said they were told by the captain they could not land because an air traffic controller was on a tea break.

Because this occurred on April 1st, the passengers initially thought the captain was joking when he announced the reason for the delay over the intercom, but it turned out he wasn't. So the plane had to circle for almost half an hour until the guy came back to work. The British do love their tea breaks.

April Fools Day

Posted on Wed Apr 05, 2006


I'm not surprised. I once read a rulebook for cricket. One of the rules was a team can call a timeout during the game for a tea break. Is that their idea of keeping spectators on the edge of their seats? It wouldn't exactly fuel my desire to start "the wave".
Posted by Captain Al  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  12:36 PM
Well, granted a 'tea break' is pretty much the equivalent of an american 'coffee break', that is, it's *probably* not the case that the person involved is sitting down enjoying a good cuppa Earl Grey. It may very well have been the polite way of saying that the gent's ex-lax had just kicked in, or he'd gone to grab a bite to eat, thinking his shift was covered..

It *does* sound bad, though.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  12:49 PM
How about landing at the wrong airport?
Posted by mmarvi  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  01:32 PM
I would hope everyone enjoys short breaks at their jobs. Air traffic control is stressful so I imagine breaks are really necessary. It sounds the problem is with management (not the "breaker").
Posted by Jim Westrich  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  01:40 PM
I think this is still a hoax. Air Traffic Controller staffing is set up so a controller won't have to work too many consecutive hours. This has zero ring of truth. (I'm a former Air Traffic Controller--it's a VERY boring job.)
Posted by Joe  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  02:21 PM
Alternate explanation--I worked a tower in Arkansas. Late at night, we had only two controllers on duty unless the airport or national guard scheduled a flight.

Upon further reflection, I think it very possible that the airline screwed up and forgot to schedule the correct landing time and nobody was, in fact, on duty at all. I wouldn't be surprised if the lights were all off as well, which is why the pilot didn't just land (which is permissable at some uncontrolled airports.)
Posted by Joe  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  02:26 PM
Joe, my mom was an ATC...she said it was a lot of fun, but it was stressful.

I thought though, that you couldn't sit there for a certain amount of hours without leaving for a mandatory break. Maybe that was the case...
Posted by Maegan  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  09:28 PM
I suspect your explanation is right, Maegan. Still sounds funny, though, to say the controller was on their tea break.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Apr 06, 2006  at  10:31 AM
Maybe it was "pee" break...and the pilot felt weird telling the passengers so...
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu Apr 06, 2006  at  11:17 AM
That's right, the tower said it was a "pee" break. But because there was a bit of static on the radio, the pilot heard it wrong.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Thu Apr 06, 2006  at  01:54 PM
This item was posted right after the news hit about Representative Tom DeLay's resignation (something about his opponents blowing a few bribery indictments all out of proportion), and ...

Was I the only person who read the headline (Plane Delays Landing for Tea Break) and thought it had to do with the soon-to-be former Congressman and his family stopping at an airport for refreshments?
Posted by Big Gary in Muleshoe, Texas  on  Fri Apr 07, 2006  at  06:11 PM
Well i agree with Joe over here
Posted by qtpi  on  Wed Apr 12, 2006  at  11:53 AM
I would hope everyone enjoys short breaks at their jobs. Air traffic control is stressful so I imagine breaks are really necessary. It sounds the problem is with management (not the "breaker").
Posted by green tea  on  Thu Mar 27, 2008  at  09:38 PM
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