Did the pilot do the right thing? Could this have been handled differently? Better?
This very interesting business “situation excercise” was in today’s news. The story follows and you can draw your own conclusions.
I applaud the pilot. He did exactly the right thing. Do you want to take a flight if the pilot himself doesn’t think he should be piloting the plane? I don’t. Should the airline have “backup” pilots? I don’t think that is practical especially considering from where this flight was departing. BA probably doesn’t have a lot of reserve pilots based in India.
There is likely more to this story. Maybe the pilot had been drinking late into the evening and was still a little buzzed in the morning—or hung over. Maybe he had a “special friend” over and they just talked all night. Maybe he just couldn’t sleep because of the noise—his official story. As a frequent flyer I am happy this guy decided to stay out of the driver’s seat. It was the pilot’s decision and he made the right one.
But as the business owner (or whatever authoritative roll), how do you deal with this? You’ve got angry customers and a pilot with some problem of unconfirmed origin.
The customers are easy. Compensate them with free flights and a personal letter from Richard Branson explaining that at BA “safety comes first and we support the pilot’s decision though we regret your inconvenience”.
I am not supportive of “treatment” programs at employer’s expense for behaviors I consider character flaws that are developed and fed outside of the employer’s relm. In other words, I believe if an employee is caught driving a bus or operating machinery while under the influence that employee should be terminated rather than sent to rehab. They should pay for their own “treatment”.  But if an employee goes to management and asks for help to prevent a potentially dangerous situation you have an entirely different situation. I say help them as you are able. They are showing character by coming to you and “risking it all”. It’s easy to be sorry and deeply repentent after being caught. Toss those overboard.
Here’s the story, what do you think?  [email protected]

Passengers fume as sleepy crew delays flight
Passengers on a British Airways flight from New Delhi to London faced a 13-hour delay as the pilot felt he was too sleepy after a noisy night in a New Delhi hotel, newspapers reported on Monday.
Angry passengers were offloaded from the plane early Sunday morning after the pilot refused to fly until he caught up with his sleep.

“The crew hadn’t had enough rest…the entire crew had a disturbed night,” Radhika Raikhy, spokeswoman for BA, was quoted in the Hindustan Times as saying, adding the airline’s safety rules do not allow its crew to operate in such conditions.

The Times of India said the flight and cabin crew complained of not getting enough rest as their hotel was too noisy.

The flight, BA 142, finally took off 13 hours later to the fury of passengers who were sent to city hotels to wait out the delay as the crew rested, newspapers reported.

“It was very chaotic,” said Sunil Thapar, a passenger.
“Due to a shortage of rooms, some people, including me, had to share rooms with strangers,” he was quoted in The Times of India as saying.  
(Credit: Reuters, April 17, 2007)