Jeremiah Thede flew United from Rome to Chicago in June 2015. His flight was delayed, and he “had eaten only an apple during five hours waiting.” His credit card wasn’t working, and he repeatedly asked flight attendants if he could get something to eat once onboard.
Unable to sleep, he proceeded to repeatedly go to the bathroom and search through his luggage while organising contacts from his trip.
Flight attendants claimed he left his meal tray obstructing the aisle and alleged that his behaviour was odd.
…A relief pilot disturbed from his sleep to deal with the incident earlier told the trial Thede was unpredictable and his behaviour was odd.
United diverted the flight to Belfast. The passenger was arrested and charged with endangering the aircraft. The case went to trial and a jury acquitted him. He’s now talking about suing United.
There’s no question it was a costly decision to divert the plane — the pilot dumped most of its fuel prior to landing. Passengers were forced to overnight in Belfast, although United did not provide them with accommodations.
Crew claimed the man refused their instructions to take his seat. Since he asked for snacks, he was described as a ‘nut’ job. It wasn’t just the Korean Airlines executive considered guilty of ‘nut rage’.
Ultimately the jury determined that not every passenger faced with overreacting crew is a criminal.