Some commercials are stupid. The iPhone commercial that shows a pilot telling the tale of the time he saved the day by checking the weather with his iPhone is one of them.
Salon tells us that the pilot is a real first officer with a major U.S. carrier. His name is Bryce Watson. His heavily edited story is probably partially true. The trouble is that the commercial is so painfully silly that its already produced an almost certainly fictitious internet tall tale that we’re certain will be forwarded to our inbox for years to come:
On one of the frequent-flier blogs, an airline pilot writes that only moments after informing his passengers of a weather-related ground hold affecting their flight to Memphis, Tenn., he and his captain received a call from one of the flight attendants. Seems an iPhone-wielding customer in the back had a challenge. “Some guy with an iPhone says the weather is good,” the flight attendant says, “and wants to know what the real reason is for the delay. Is something wrong with the plane?”
I like that, “real reason.” The implication, as always, is that the carrier is lying or otherwise withholding some critical information. There must be some dangerous malfunction they’re not telling us about. After all, “the weather is good,” so obviously there’s no reason we can’t depart immediately.
Reportedly, the captain responded with a public address announcement that was sharp enough to elicit audible laughter from the cabin.
“If the passenger with the iPhone would be kind enough,” he began, “to use it to check the weather at our alternate airport, then calculate our revised fuel burn due to being rerouted, then call our dispatcher to arrange our amended release, then make a call to the nearest traffic control center to arrange a new slot time (among all the other aircraft carrying passengers with iPhones), we’ll then be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the flight attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multimillion-dollar aircraft and its 84 passengers to safely leave.”
The reason for this story’s existence is simple. Weather delays are really traffic delays. Bad weather in one area means delays in another. It’s not just a matter of checking weather.com with your phone. Most people know this.
The article in Salon goes on to interview dispatchers and debunk the entire silly commercial:
“Usually, traffic delays to Newark aren’t due to weather itself,” says another dispatcher, with 12 years’ experience at both regional and major airlines. “It’s about volume. Looking at a radar map on an iPhone will not help your chances at getting an early release. That commercial is total B.S.”