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As a kid one of the highlights of any flight I took was the short visit to the cockpit and chat with the pilots. I have very fond memories of asking about all the gauges and lights, what would happen if you pull the lever, or the breathtaking view you had from the flight deck. I always had the impression the pilots liked the visit and the admiration from the visitors that came with it.

Given the new rules and the steel enforced doors, I have the impression that this is something of the past. Is this true, or is it still possible to have my kids have the same treat as I had as a kid?

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Not officially... Usually they allow it on ground. – Heidel Ber Gensis Dec 25 '13 at 11:12
Aeroflot Flight 593 – hippietrail Dec 25 '13 at 13:58
If I was todays kid (who flew planes on them XBoxes), I'd cause some real anxious moments to those fellas who let me in the cockpit while in flight. Similarly, if I were the pilot, I aint letting no todays kid get into my cockpit. Just too risky with children. – happybuddha Dec 25 '13 at 19:48
Joey, do you like movies about gladiators? – travelot Dec 27 '13 at 11:11

Officially: Unfortunately, it is not allowed for all passengers regardless of their age to be admitted to the flight deck crew. This is according to the FAA (USA) and to the EASA (EU), as seen in:

Most of the world follow the above organizations, either directly or by implementing similar operating procedures and policies, I am not aware of any civil aviation authority that allows passengers to visit the flight deck.

Anyway, reality is a bit different as usual. Out of personal experience as a cabin crew member, here are few tips that could help you in getting your children or even yourself to the cockpit:

  1. Ask a cabin crew member with a smile, while presenting your business card, to ask the captain for you if he will allow your child to go inside the cockpit. The cabin crew member will go to the cockpit and deliver the message to the captain. The captain might let your child in, asking to let child in has better chances than asking for yourself as an adult. If the captain refused, usually he will tell you through the cabin crew that you are welcomed on ground prior to leaving the aircraft.

  2. Captains in long flights usually take a walk around in the cabin to stretch their legs or when the other set of cockpit crew (in case of double crew) are flying. Once you see him/her introduce yourself and your children to him, ask him nicely that the kids want to see the cockpit. Most likely in this case he will agree. You just need some luck.

PS: I once around 2005/2006 was a passenger on a flight (different airline, not the one I work for) and I saw the captain in the aisle and we had a little chat. I ended up in the cockpit having a cigarette with him :)

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You can smoke in the flight deck? – sixtyfootersdude Jan 22 '14 at 15:27
Are you sure that "Captains in long flights usually take a walk around in the cabin"? I've taken 20+ long-haul flights and never even once seen a member of the flight crew in the cabin. OK, 20 isn't a huge number but it should be enough to see pretty much everything that's "usual". – David Richerby Feb 24 '15 at 22:35
@DavidRicherby I've seen this several times on long haul flights. I don't know if it's "usually" the case, but it seems common enough. I'd guess you're more likely to see it in the cabin(s) closest to the flight deck. For example, I was recently upstairs on a couple of 747s and saw flight crew walking around several times during those two flights. This was on a U.S. carrier, though I think I've also seen flight crew walking around in the cabin on Korean Air long-hauls. – reirab Jun 10 '15 at 16:56
@DavidRicherby I am pretty sure. In many of the long haul flights two sets of crew take shifts. The crew on rest are free to move. Although it is unusual for them to change their clothes and wear something light to help them rest. If your flight was around 8 hours then there is a chance that it is only one set of crew. – Heidel Ber Gensis Jun 11 '15 at 5:56

"It depends". There are attempts to strictly limit the access to the cockpit. The effected rules differ however from country to country. There are reports that people are still admitted to the cockpit during flight. According to the FAA regulations, it's not allowed. THE UK is said to have very strict rules, too.

I could not find any explicit rules that it is allowed to admit passengers to the cockpit during flight, but given the huge number of airlines globally I can imagine that there is quite a big difference how they each treat this issue.

But what the rules and what the actual events are is differing as you can imagine. I was myself sitting in the cockpit as a kid during the start of an airplane in the 80s where this was prohibited already.

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rules do not permit it, on my experience the easiest way is on charter flight – Ale Dec 26 '13 at 15:13

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