Note left on plane suggests cockpit is “no place for a woman.”

westjet note

With International Women’s Day (March 8) around the corner comes a reminder – written on an airplane cocktail napkin – that the struggle for women’s equality continues.

“The cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman,” began a note scrawled on a napkin and left behind by a passenger on a recent WestJet flight from Calgary to Victoria, B.C.

“Were (sic) short mothers, not pilots” continued the note, in which a passenger who signed his named as David also referenced a bible verse and said he wished the airline would tell him when “a fair lady is at the helm” so he can be sure to “book another flight.”

The plane’s pilot, Carey Steacy, shared the note on her Facebook page with a response that said in part, “…I have heard many comments from people throughout my 17 year career as a pilot. Most of them positive….. You were more than welcome to deplane when you heard I was a “fair lady.” You have that right…”

Steacy’s Facebook post has since been removed, but many news outlets and individuals have re-posted the note.

“My first reaction was shock, Steacy told CTV Vancouver, “I have to think that that’s very much not a common feeling among the general public.”

Canadian carrier WestJet currently has 1,111 male pilots and 58 female pilots. Its subsidiary regional airline, WestJet Encore, has 87 male and 10 female pilots.

“We are enormously proud of the professionalism, skills and expertise of our pilots, and we find this note very disappointing,” the airline said in a statement.

Women in the aviation industry have rallied behind Steacy and commended her for responding to the sexist note with dignity and class.

“Some might say the crude note did not deserve a response, but it is important to do so,” said Barbara Williams, Interim Executive Director at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. If only “to remind us all that women continue to achieve and play an important part in the aviation world’s history.”

“Most women pilots would just say that the airplane does not know whether or not the pilot is a woman, so it does not behave any differently,” said Martha Phillips, president of The Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots.

More April Fools’ Day hijinks from airlines

In addition to early arrivals from Virgin Atlantic (glass-bottomed planes) and WestJet (all-animals welcome; no carriers needed), these April Fools antics from airlines are making the rounds:

Delta Air Lines has a new double-decker arm rest available for those in the middle seat.

Double decker Delta Arm rest

Virgin America has a new Main Canine Select class offering intriguing perks, such as in-flight fire-hydrants designed by Frank Gehry.

Virgin America hydrants


And JetBlue has announced three new – unusual – destinations.

To the moon or to the center of the earth

I’m sure I’ll have to update this come Sunday morning, but long before April 1, 2012 rolled around in my time zone, I made a few April Fools’ Day sightings.

From the Republic of Vanuatu comes word that Richard Branson has launched “Virgin Volacanic” in order to take travelers to the center of the earth

“Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano.”

First up (or should I say down) is Etna – Sicily, Italy, followed by:
• Stromboli – Aeolian Islands
• Yasur – Republic of Vanuatu
• Ambrym – Republic of Vanuatu
• Tinakula – Solomon Islands

The first trips are scheduled for 2015. More details here.

Also, we have news from WestJet about a kids-free flying experience:

Details of Kargo Kids, including booking information and a simple, easy-to-understand demonstration video, is available on the WestJet website

Air New Zealand announced “STRAIGHTUP Fares” for those willing to fly while standing in the aisle holding onto a hand bar.

And Spirit Airlines, ever the prankster, announced $9 (each way) flights to the moon.