If a diplomat were to request access to the flight deck with proper identification, would he/she be allowed to visit the cockpit of a commercial airliner during flight?

  • 22
    $\begingroup$ I see no reason why. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 18:59
  • 18
    $\begingroup$ A diplomat would likely have as little or as much access to the cockpit as any other passenger. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 20:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Not on the two international 747 carriers I flew for. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 22:50
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ One word comes to mind: WHY? $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 23:57
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Diplomatic immunity means the person might not be prosecuted (immunity can be rescinded) but it does not mean the person will not be hog-tied with nylon straps, thrown into a toilet and locked in there until the airplane lands, then handed over to law enforcement, after which ultimately the person will be declared persona-non-grata and thrown out of the country like a sack of potatoes. :) It is also quite possible that one of the pilots will draw a firearm, give one and only one warning, and end the diplomat's status with extreme prejudice. Shoot first, ask questions later. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


Generally, airlines are required to have content in their ops manual clearly stating who is entitled to flight deck access from the point the engines are started until shutdown. In some countries, such as the UK, airlines are required to limit access only to essential personnel, and foreign airlines must follow the rule while in UK airspace. I would find it rather disturbing that an airline would allow access to the flight deck during flight ops to someone just because they have a diplomatic passport, given that some countries play it fast and loose with such documentation, and flight crews are not equipped to validate a passport.

SKYbrary is a wiki created by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, International Civil Aviation Organization, and the Flight Safety Foundation to create a comprehensive source of aviation safety information freely available online. Its guidance on this subject is crystal clear:

In the air, procedures vary from airline to airline and from region to region, but the principle that only those with legitimate need must be permitted flight deck access must be paramount. Beyond the pilots at the controls, this will include relief, check and training pilots. Exceptionally, such flight deck occupancy may exceptionally be extended to include other specifically-authorised employees of the operator - pilots, cabin crew and maintenance personnel. Flight Operations Inspectors carrying out observations on behalf of the State Regulatory Body may also be permitted access at the discretion of the aircraft commander subject to valid identification being presented prior to entry approval.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "I would find it rather disturbing that an airline would allow access to the flight deck during flight ops to someone [...]" 30 years ago getting access was not uncommon. My parents and grandparent all have been to the flight deck of large commercial airliners, even in european (german to be precise) airspace. I would guess 9/11 changed things in this regard drastically. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 11:38
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @Polygnome That was exactly what changed after 9/11. It used to be that every kid on a plane whose parents asked nicely got to see the flight deck. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 12:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby They still can, just not between startup and shutdown of the engines. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 12:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @JuanJimenez True. But going during the flight was the big thing. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes. Last time I did it was 2009 on a flight from São Paulo to Córdoba, but only because at the time I was an employee of American Eagle and a pilot. In Brazil pilots are gods, right up there with judges and doctors. They were tickled that I was going to Argentina to ferry a 1948 Stinson to Buenos Aires with a friend. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .