At least one part of the movie "Flight" suggests its story takes place before September 11, 2001:

About 30 minutes into a flight, the pilot played by Denzel Washington exits the cockpit, goes part way into the cabin in view of the passengers, and talks to the passengers over the intercom. If the pilot had done this after 9/11, I think he would have been violating FAA procedure, as after 9/11, pilots must stay in the locked cockpit for the duration of every flight, except to use the bathroom. But after the plane crashes, the investigators never mention the cockpit exit, suggesting it wasn't yet a violation of protocol.

Am I correct that "Flight" took place before September 11, 2001? And is it possible to pin down the precise year in which "Flight" was supposed to take place?

Update 7 May 2013: After looking around the web a bit more, I have learned that pilots do not have to limit themselves to either the cockpit or the bathroom... they just have to make sure that when they leave the cockpit, it is locked behind them. So it was not necessarily a breach of rules for the Denzel character to make the speech to the passengers, even under post-9/11 rules.

4 Answers 4


According to the film's website, the story has its genesis in 1999, before Sullenberg or 9/11, so screenwriter John Gatins did not have those references when he wrote it, and obviously he decided not to reference them in his film made this year. The movie does have three scenes shot in Atlanta's St. Regis Hotel, though, which it mentions by name. The hotel opened in April 2009. So it's current in its setting, but perhaps without recent events having been calculated in.

Given that Washington's character had been drinking and on drugs, perhaps he would not be concerned about breaking an FAA rule. In fact, going back to talk on the intercom was the only way he could access the little bottles of vodka,


  • 1
    Nice catch on the St Regis reference! I think that helps prove that the film takes place in or close to the same year that it was released (2012).
    – Shiz Z.
    Nov 24, 2012 at 19:20

The easiest way to see that the movie takes place closer to present time is that Denzel's character is using an iPhone (released 2007) and an iPad (released 2010) also when they are referencing the toxicology report, the lawyer states that the tox machine was calibrated in 2009 and then states that it is 18 months overdue thus making the year 2010/2011.

  • It was 18 months since the time it was supposed to be calibrated. If it's only supposed to be calibrated every few years then it could be even later.
    – Austin
    Apr 20, 2015 at 4:06

SouthJet Flight 227 crashed on October 14th, 2011

During the NTSB hearing Ellen Block's presentation includes slides that display the date of the crash.

Flight screenshot, NTSB hearing slide

You can also watch the scene on YouTube.

Interestingly, the movie was first released (at the New York Film Festival) on October 14, 2012.


I also noticed the iPod plugged in next to the desk rotary phone. I think this vintage iPod was 2004 or 2005. Also, the various cars in the movie are very misleading as to when this was to have taken place.

  • Please present a conclusion in your answer.
    – Siddhartha
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:41

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