Hungry Passenger Acquitted of Endangering Aircraft, Now He’s Going to Sue United

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Does United not bear legal responsibility to provide accommodations (or at least make a reasonable attempt to do so) in the event of a diversion /they/ decided to make?

  2. How the hell does United get away with not providing accomodations? I can’t even comprehend that.

  3. I’m wondering about the percentage of arrests made in public places that occur at airports and on airplanes. Does anyone have statistics about this? Is one more likely to be arrested at an airport than elsewhere?

  4. When Directors from United named Mark Krolick destroy the experience then passengers will go crazy. He created the rule where flight attendants can’t even give this hungry man a meal or something small to eat. This customer should sue United and specifically target Mark Krolick from United who is responsible for issues like this.

  5. It seems odd to me they would dump fuel before throwing a candy bar or a dinner roll his way.

  6. I truly hope he sues and WINS. The only time companies like this pay attention is WHEN THEY ARE SUED and sometimes even that doesn’t stop the stupid behavior. I get that for the safety of everyone, sometimes crew must make decisions, but when there is no threat and people just want food, to use a restroom, or some other reasonable accommodation crew should not be allowed to mistreat people, throw them off of planes, etc.

  7. There is absolutely no limit to the Sky Natzi waitresses and waiters in the skies at United and the crazy thing is that there is no shame. They will just about do anything to exercise their power because of lack of control in their petty personal lives.
    I was a Flight Attendant for United for many years and I finally could not take it and had to leave because of all the unjust petty things they did, including the management.
    I had seen countless times, when crew kicked out passengers off of a flight, for simply saying that they do not feel safe. I saw them kick out a Moslem passenger before but for simply saying that they did not feel safe. There was a real nasty Puerto Rican male Flight Attendant, short, fat and bald with a skin decease.. with his ex Pam American Purser now United friend from Iceland (who could not even apply for a US passport even she had a green card for so many years), they were so mean that they got a Jewish lady arrested in Melbourne on the way to Sydney, flight 840.
    The sky natzi’s at United are nasty, they protect their food. I have no idea why they hate giving anything to passengers. They would die before they could open the carts in the galley and give a sandwich or a piece of chocolate or piece of bread to a starving passenger. They would always say that they do not have anything or it is for the second service. The crazy thing is that there is so much food to be thrown away at the end of the flight.
    Also, United crew gets Crew Trays and they actually never touch their crew set up because the fat cows eat the First Class and Business class food, all night long… So, they are so full that they can not touch their crew trays. Now, some will pack it to go, but going to Sydney and Narita, where the immigration and customs check the crew bags, they are scared to take stuff. Although most often the crew always steal the alcohol and the liquor.
    I feel bad for this poor man, as I was reading it I knew exactly what happened and how the sky natzi’s at United treated him. He should sue and learn lots of money from United and show em who is who.
    That is the only way, that big companies like United will listen.
    They should have paid for passengers accommodation as it is United’s responsibility to divert and leave everyone stranded.
    What a shame to United and their nasty sky waiters and waitresses. They call themselves, safety professionals. Oh, please.. how many times have you crashed and saved your ass?
    They should be called the thieves in the sky…
    There needs to be some accountability for their actions. Why the law protects some morons, because they just say that they do not feel comfortable? They should actually provide a reason for their dumbness and dumb unreasonable answers.

  8. Actually the best way to annoy United is to sue them in small claims court. It cost very little to do so and the airline has to send an attorney, at their expense, to defend them. If they don’t, the judge usually rules in favor of the plaintiff.

  9. Get video! Everyone has a phone, and as we’ve seen with police street executions of black people, when everyone pulls out their phone to record it the whole dynamic changes. Then if they continue with their authoritarian jack up they risk having a million views on YouTube with every news agency calling the next morning. Make them famous for their facism. They are effectively ruined for the rest of their life wherever they go. The tar doesn’t wash off. And they did it all themselves. We just record it.

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