Flight Delayed As Man Refuses To Fly With A Woman Pilot

An Alaska Airlines flight from Phoenix to Seattle was delayed yesterday because a male passenger refused to fly on a plane piloted by a woman.

The plane had left the airport gate when the man insisted on returning to the terminal, delaying the flight by eight minutes.

Passengers on Flight 603, including both the University of Washington and Washington State University men's basketball teams, booed the unidentified passenger. He exited through the 727's rear stairway to the ground, and was escorted by a flight attendant back to the terminal.

Pilot Christy Gomes, 37, of Gig Harbor, said it was the first time in 14 years of flying that a passenger had refused to fly with her. She achieved the rank of captain four years ago and is one of seven women captains for Alaska Airlines.

``I've had some people hesitate to get on, but I've never had to stop a flight before,'' she said after the flight.

The passenger wasn't aware that Gomes was piloting the plane until her name was mentioned in a routine preflight announcement as the plane left the gate.

Gomes said a flight attendant came to her in the cockpit and said, ``A guy found out there is a female pilot and is demanding to be let off the airplane.''

A flight attendant told passengers why the plane was stopping.

Gomes said the incident gave her extra incentive to make a perfect landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. ``I was trying extra hard,'' she said.

The landing was flawless and passengers responded with applause, smiles and thumbs-up gestures. One woman passenger stuck her head in the cockpit after the landing and told Gomes, ``I hope that guy has to wait three hours for the next plane.''