Bathroom Break for Air Taffic Controller Causes Flight Delays

It’s difficult for me to maintain perspective when my flights are delayed. No matter what the reason — weather, technical problems, etc — I get frustrated, and have to resist the temptation to blame the airline, their staff, or anyone else who seems like they might be in some way connected to the problem.

But of all the reasons to wait around for a flight to land or take off, an air traffic controller’s bathroom break is the last thing I’d expect to be causing the disruption.

However, that’s exactly what happened last week at Manchester-Boston Regional — New Hampshire’s largest airport. The controller left the tower for 12 minutes, which left two Southwest Airlines flights circling above the airport for an extra 18 minutes, and kept a medical flight delivering lungs to New Jersey on the ground 10 minutes longer than scheduled. The absence was in the logbook as a “bathroom break.”

It should be noted, the controller waited until traffic was very light, and followed procedure by notifying other controllers at nearby facility that he’d be out for moment.

I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.