My strange flight offer from Richard Branson…

Key.Aero chats with veteran airline pilot James McBride, who was tasked with making a decision about whether to board one of the aviation industry’s most famous members

Making decisions is hard. But on a fateful day in the early 2000s, while James McBride was working at easyJet as its deputy chief pilot, he had to make a seemingly impossible decision. 

Over a weekend, the experienced captain had assumed the role of chief pilot while his boss went on leave for a few days over a long weekend. 

“James, we’ve a strange request and we need your authorisation,” James writes in his latest book, relaying a call he received from Johnny in flight operations late on the Saturday evening. 

“We’ve had a phone call from a Gatwick crew,” Johnny says to James. “They’re just about to board all the passengers, but they’re overbooked by one. We have checked and he has a valid ticket with a paid booking, but there no more seats in the cabin. So, the captain has asked – can he use the jump seat?” 

James shuts this idea down immediately, saying that since 2001, it has been illegal to put passengers in the jump seat. Johnny knew this so James was wondering why they were even having this conversation. There must have been something else. 

“James,” Johnny replies. “It’s Sir Richard Branson…”  

Watch the video above to see what happened…