On Thursday night United Airlines flight UA90 from Newark to Tel Aviv turned around and flew back to Newark after a dispute between passengers and flight attendants turned ugly.
Two individuals decided that they needed the comfort of empty business class seats for the long journey across the Atlantic and onward to the Mideast, even though they hadn’t paid for the seats. A flight attendant caught the self-upgraders, and disagreed vehemently. The passengers didn’t return to their assigned seats, though, and in the words of someone else in the cabin began to “riot.”
The Boeing 787-10 departed at 11:03 p.m. and by the time it made it to the U.S. – Canada border the captain decided to turn around. The airline initially rescheduled for a 2:20 a.m. departure, but the aircraft’s crew didn’t have duty hours let and United was unable to source replacement crew that late so they ultimately cancelled the flight.
When the plane arrived back at Newark, officers took the self-upgraders into custody.
According to United Airlines,
United flight 90 from New York/Newark to Tel Aviv on 20 January 2022 returned to New York/Newark Airport due to disruptive passengers on board. Law enforcement officials met the aircraft upon landing. The flight was subsequently cancelled. Our team at New York/Newark have provided our customers with meal vouchers and hotel accommodation and have made arrangements for customers to complete their journeys.
It’s amazing that things escalate this way. If you’re self-upgrading, you’re taking a shot that it’ll work. It usually doesn’t, at least on U.S. and European carriers. Once you’re caught, your gamble didn’t pay off. Proceeding to argue with the flight crew, let alone becoming belligerent, isn’t an effective way to prosecute your position (unless your position is that you want to be prosecuted). You have a weak hand to play, and at that point should throw in the towel, to mix metaphors – not go all in.
(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)