The Lounge

From the Clouds to the Lido Deck

I always get pre-flight jitters, but I used to get extra nervous when flying over water. What happens if we go down? I approached a pilot friend to get answers. What I learned was shocking and should be common knowledge.

The pilot was flying a small cargo plane from California to Hawaii, and he encountered engine troubles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He needed to land quickly. We all see the emergency cards with floatation devices, but what he told me was that planes do not just fly anywhere over water.

Planes fly in shipping lanes.

With his engine emergency, he descended, landed safely in the Pacific, and was spotted in under an hour by a cruise ship heading to Hawaii. The boat promptly sent out a small rescue team to get him on board, provided him with a spare room, and he was soon enjoying Piña Coladas on the lido deck. He shared his story with fellow cruise goers and even sat at the captain’s table for the two nights he spent on the ship. Funny enough, he later noted that this was the best vacation he had ever experienced.

Our thoughts wander, and during a multi-hour flight over a body of water, we can drift into panic mode. Now, along with the usual line that planes are safer than cars, remind yourself that planes fly over shipping lanes. There is a plan B, and you may even find yourself on a cruise ship living your best life en route to land. People are helpful, pilots and captains are trained, and there are options when the going gets rough.

Please email us at with any other questions we can get answered directly from a pilot.

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