KLM pilots offloading luggage at London Heathrow: heroic stuff?


Once and again, pictures of pilots (off)-loading luggage appear on social media. Much to the delight of the internet world, and probably the passengers on board too. Understandably: these pilots want to reduce the many delays that recently accumulated due to strikes, lack of staff and other abuses.

Like these two pilots of the Dutch KLM, probably deeply ashamed that they are being delayed because the staff – this time in London Heathrow – is undermanned, offloading their KLM aircraft.

I am, however, reserved with this act of goodwill, I will elaborate:

Do the pilots wear the necessary personal protective equipment? Such as gloves or safety shoes with a reinforced sole tip? I can’t see them on the picture.

In the photo you can see the pilots offloading luggage above their heads from the cargo, without the automatic baggage belt.

Have they received the necessary training? Do they realise the importance of lifting techniques?

What happens if you get a suitcase on your toe, or worse, on your head? What if you injure a colleague or a co-worker ?

The insurance company will certainly not laugh if a pilot reports an injury sustained by offloading a few tonnes of luggage without using the necessary protective equipment.

Exhausting yourself as a pilot to perform duties outside your job description and then taking the controls of an aircraft carrying over 100 passengers safely to their destination doesn’t seem to be a great idea either.

One last thing: I would find it humiliating for someone else to come and take over my job “because it’s not moving fast enough”.

I would suggest: pilot, swallow the delay, have a coffee while waiting and let everyone around the aircraft do their job.

Opinions are welcome in the comments section 😉


  1. There is no shame in doing some labour outside your job description. Offcourse risks involved in non trained activities are to be on the individual. But I would think no company would penalise this, and hope no company will require me to do it as well. Basic humanity and rational thinking.

    Cpt A320

  2. Done this myself in exceptional circumstances and still waiting for OSHA to come after me. I have even lived through a decade of doing walkarounds without neon-colored vests… I think one can overdo caution. I would be weary to do this as a scab, but if it’s just lack of staff I‘ll be fine to give a hand.


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