Recently a friend of mine got thrown off of a United flight. The doors were shut and they had backed away from the gate a short distance. He was trying to make a connection and get to a family emergency of sorts and the flight had been cancelled/delayed a number of times. Thus his frustration.
Apparently the f-word was the trigger although it wasn’t directed at the flight attendant but was used to describe the situation. The attendant said she was “threatened” and had him removed.
I’m wondering about a couple of things…
I don’t believe there was any warning given
My friend was told that the policy is zero-tolerance for the f-word
What I’m most curious about… this was deemed so egregious that he was removed from the flight but (luckily actually) there were no further measures taken. TSA wasn’t involved, United people at the gate helped him and he was allowed to get on a dif flight later in the day.
There seems to be something missing from the story. Did he pull a flight attendant aside and say “fuck this” or something? Usually they’re busy doing pre-flight checks, walking the aisles for seatbelts, giving first class some drinks, or doing the safety dance.
That F-word can be a sensitive one for some airlines.
If he was ejected simply for dropping the F-bomb, I’d think it was a bad move. If he was (as it seems) visibly agitated – even angry – then the flight crew wouldn’t necessarily know why. To them, all they see is an angry person spouting profanities. Is he drunk? Is he mentally ill? Is he on drugs? Is he violent? Someone freaking out at 33,000 feet is not something you want on an airplane. Better to get him off while you’re still on the ground. (Besides, it’s hard to jettison things from a pressurised cabin.) Get him off the flight, let him cool his jets, and let him on another flight when he’s calmer. It’s unfortunate that your friend was frustrated and upset, especially due to a family emergency; but without knowing the situation, the safer course was to remove him from the aircraft.
Airlines have a LOT of leeway. Once they are in the air, there isn’t a chance to get an abusive or violent passenger off the plane, those passengers not only make the flight attendants miserable, they impact the flight of the other passengers and open up the airline to lawsuits, so if they have issues on the ground, they are very likely to get rid of the passenger.
No further action was taken because removing him from the flight WAS his warning. Had he continued to be abusive and belligerent, TSA would have gotten involved.
My sister, when she was an active alcoholic, was refused boarding more than once for being too drunk.
1. I don’t believe there was any warning given
2. My friend was told that the policy is zero-tolerance for the f-word
3. What I’m most curious about… this was deemed so egregious that he was removed from the flight but (luckily actually) there were no further measures taken. TSA wasn’t involved, United people at the gate helped him and he was allowed to get on a dif flight later in the day.
Your friend’s action(s) scared many of the other passengers. He should consider himself lucky that other passengers didn’t forcibly restrain him.
He’s lucky that the Air Marshall didn’t forcibly restrain him (or fire a warning shot into his groin - just kidding about the warning shot).
His action(s) alerted the flight attendants to the fact that he was a serious safety issue that had to be dealt with immediately. They are not required to fly at 30,000+ feet, in a large metal tube, with a nutcase.
Your friend had obviously calmed down by the time he had been escorted off the plane and it was decided that no further action by the airlines or TSA was required.
Flight attendants and flight crews are just doing a job. They are also responsible for the lives of everyone onboard. They are not required to babysit someone who acts like an ass.
I find I am pretty comfortable with the flight crew, who had to deal with his angry ass, making the call. Incidents over the past couple of years give them the right to err on the side of caution, in my mind.
That the ground crew aided him and got him on another flight is as it should be and doesn’t imply he didn’t do anything ‘too bad’, to me.
Travel is often frustrating and sometimes delayed, for everyone. It does not give an individual leeway to lash out at staff. Ever. Keep a civil tongue in you head, it’s not that hard, everyone else on the plane managed it, after all.
I wish I had witnessed it but I am quite certain that he wasn’t drinking and I know that he isn’t physically intimidating…although he can be a bit harsh at times.
So does each member of the flight crew have the authority to do what was done or would she have had to be the boss or get approval from the boss?
Let’s say my friend was 5% obnoxious and 95% used as an example by an attendant who wanted to throw her weight around and had been getting alot of grief from alot of people over a very messed up flight situation. Any recourse or is he just lucky that worse things didn’t happen?
We all know that we need to be “on good behavior” in airports and on planes, so if someone can’t or doesn’t feel the need to control himself while sitting on a plane, that’s an extra-big red flag.
As for why they took it seriously enough to remove him from that flight and let him on a later flight - well, maybe they could tell that he was just having a “moment” and would be fine after a scolding and a time-out.
Nope, not unless it was discriminatory (your friend wouldn’t happen to be olive skinned and named Ahmed? Or breastfeeding? Although, people breastfeeding and/or named Ahmed tend to be very polite on planes because they often know they are easy targets). He’s lucky he didn’t spend the day getting cavity searched.
He was abusive to the staff. His use of expletives was his choice and was enough that he’s out in the cold on recourse.
Your friend has now learned what all of us never needed a lesson in, don’t swear at the flight crew. He was apparently informed they have a zero tolerance policy. Good on them, there is no excuse for such behaviour.
And swearing at the flight crew ranks way higher than 5% asshole for most everybody. Clearly he, like you, thought it no big deal, just a little venting. Now it should be clear why you never see other people behaving in such a fashion.
Did he swear at the flight crew, or did he just swear when speaking to them? For some people, profanity is just a normal part of their vocabulary. Throwing someone off a plane for colorful use of idiom seems a bit fucking harsh.