File image: A retired Southwest Airlines pilot has taken responsibility for committing a lewd act on an August 10, 2020, flight from Philadelphia to Orlando.
File image: A retired Southwest Airlines pilot has taken responsibility for committing a lewd act on an August 10, 2020, flight from Philadelphia to Orlando.

Porn on a plane: Former Southwest Airline pilot pays a hefty price

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Jun 5, 2021

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A retired Southwest Airlines pilot has taken responsibility for committing a lewd act on an August 10, 2020, flight from Philadelphia to Orlando.

Michael Haak, 60, made no excuses for watching porn and exposing his genitalia to a female officer.

He said in a virtual hearing that the act started as a consensual prank between him and the other pilot.

“I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years,” he said during the hearing.

According to the New York Post, Judge J. Mark Coulson ordered him to a year unsupervised probation and a fine of $5 000 (about R68 300). Haak, who was the captain, was assisted by a female first officer who he hadn't met before the flight.

According to a statement by the US Attorney's Office for the district of Maryland, Haak got out of the pilot’s seat, and while still in the cockpit of the plane, undressed. He then viewed pornographic material on a laptop.

Haak continued to behave in an appropriate conduct in the cockpit, while the first officer “continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member”.

Southwest Airlines spokesperson Chris Mainz said they learned of the pilot's behaviour after he voluntarily left the airline.

Haak had worked for the company for 27 years.

“Southwest Airlines does not tolerate behaviour of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated,” said Mainz.

Due to the incident, the airline would not pay any benefits Haak is entitled to after his retirement.

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