Ever noticed how hard and at times irritating it is driving a car with a driver on the passenger seat. It literary takes you back to driving school or gives you that feeling that you are not driving your own car lol.
Fortunately its a different experience in aeroplanes as a pilot who is flying as a passenger is always tucked away in the passenger cabin, not in the cockpit in full view of the flight crew. This however does not stop pilots exhibiting some interesting or maybe rather annoying behavior at times. Pilots fly as passengers for various reasons such as going on holiday, positioning flight or home flight after their shift.
I have to admit I was pretty bad at the beginning as well. I remember after just completing my training for my private pilot licence, whenever I flew as a passenger I just felt this itching feeling to let fellow passengers know that I am a pilot. It even got worse, whenever the pilot did something I always had an opinion about it and in my mind I would feel I could have done better. That is despite my limited experience compared to the pilots flying the aircraft. I know some colleagues who like me were quite eager to maintain situational awareness, like knowing where in the airport we are, what runway we will be using and so on. Now I usually don’t bother anymore even though the pilot in me will always keep a watchful eye at the back of my mind.
While people around me are clinging to their seats, and looking quite focused, I am either sleeping or reading, during take-off and landing. There are times where I out of curiosity have a look what’s going on, if I can see out, or at the in-flight screens. I even now and then notice the altitude on final approach to know how many minutes until touchdown, using rough estimate of the rate of descent for that aircraft type and weight. Especially when it’s nice weather, I enjoy the view, as I cannot use too much time to enjoy the scenery when I am taking off or landing myself.
You get to notice that the further you sit at the back, the worse it feels, because of certain physical properties, like turning moments, pivot point and so on. Some airlines brake on landing as if they are about to run out of landing distance – even when I know the runway is plenty long (for that aircraft type). But then again, I feel for the same roughness when I am in a train, bus or taxi – it never ceases to amaze me how IGNORANT and CARELESS drivers of all kinds of vehicles are to … passenger comfort. The awareness and presence of a pilot in the passenger cabin is actually an advantage to passengers and crew as they offer an extra set of eyes and calm attitude during God forbid incidences or accidents due to their training. That being said we get to appreciate that different pilots have different experiences for a particular situation.