United Airlines ‘1K’ Member Threatened With No Fly List For Eating Manicotti

A United Airlines top tier ‘1K’ status member was threated with the ‘no fly list’ by a United Airlines flight attendant after eating a plate of manicotti on board. The passenger shared the crazy story that happened on Thursday’s flight 1372 from Denver to Seattle.

Sam had just taken his 80th flight of the year with United, from Madison, Wisconsin to Denver, and was connecting onward. It was going to be the same plane and crew for his Seattle flight. And, he says, as he got off the aircraft in Denver he mentioned to the first class flight attendant how much he loves United’s manicotti. He joked that since he was going to be back shortly in seat 7C, could she save him some? She actually responded that if there was any left she’d “see what [she] could do.”

  • When he reboarded the aircraft he smiled at the flight attendant up front and said “don’t forget our deal.” She smiled back, he says, and offered “I got you!”

  • That’s when a second flight attendant had words with the first one. Then she approaches the passenger at his seat and lets him know that “United will not allow…the first class meal in economy and that [he’s] only entitled to snack box” which 1K status passengers receive complimentary in coach when they aren’t upgraded. She says she’s told the other crewmember not to bring him any manicotti.

  • But halfway through the flight, the first class flight attendant brings him.. manicotti.

    It’s obviously left over but it’s warm and delicious. It’s not the full meal, just the manicotti and a fork. It is a surprise and joy and she smiles at me and I smile at her and I profusely thank her for the kind gesture.

  • Then the second flight attendant “waits” for him to eat it and “berate[s]” him for doing so. She says she’s “writing him up” for accepting the meal – and informs him he may be banned from flying United placed on their “no fly list.”

    She states that based on what she told me more than 90 minutes ago it was my job to refuse the meal and that I knew better than to accept the meal. She then threatens me with “this kind of violation can result in you being denied boarding and being put on United’s no fly list”.

    She also tells him that the captain is “upset” that he’s accepted the meal, and she’ll be reporting the other crewmember.

The passenger says he spoke with the flight’s captain on arrival, who did find sharing the meal back into coach inappropriate but apologized for the flight attendant’s behavior towards him.

Ironically the flight turned from a surprise and delight, where a crewmember made the passenger feel special (“That was my 81st United flight this year and Susan was the best flight attendant I’ve had all year and really made me feel special”) to one where he was made to feel like a criminal – that the airline didn’t want on board – in just an instant. Susan may have brought him her own meal, trying to bring joy to a customer like it’s 1982.

Of course had the passenger eaten the United Airlines cheeseburger he might have put United on the no fly list.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Many years ago, I was flying ORD-LHR on UA in Y class. The flight attendant working my section happened to be someone I knew socially. After the meal service, she brought me a leftover ice cream sundae from J class and later brought me some cognac and another after-dinner liqeuer from up front. There were some glares from my fellow passengers (also because the FA was super attractive and spent time chatting with me because she knew me) but no consequences beyond that as far as I know!

  2. No good deed goes unpunished. Another FA on a power trip. UA should can the second flight attendant for wasting the company’s time with BS write-ups and for treating one of their best passengers (who was apparently polite) like crap.

  3. Just get rid of overbearing flight attendant. Better for the environment too, less waste.

  4. You’re missing a detail that his first flight where he got the upgrade to F was mis-catered and he didn’t get the meal he should have

    “I was on UA247 (MSN – DEN) in first class and unfortunately the flight was un-catered and we had no lunch available in first class which was a minor disappointment. No big deal. I wasn’t super hungry anyways.”

    MSN-DEN meets the >800 mile threshold for meal especially a 10:55am departure.

  5. Typical behavior from US flight attendants. I hate them all….even the ones who “appear” nice because I know that they are capable of and likely occasionally exercise these petty behaviors.

  6. Beat him bloody and drag him out by the collar Dao style
    In fact break a guitar or two on him
    Life sentence in prison and no fly list for life lol
    They should love this guy @ corporate flying their turd like aircraft and paying his way with sky high pricing while actually liking something their fowl catering dept serves.Hes a hero just for eating it!

  7. CONTENT WARNING: Level Headed Approach and Unbiased Analysis Ahead

    First, when View From The Wing shares news about women alleging harassment from fellow seat-mates, the comments section fills up with misogynists asserting that there must be two sides to the story, and all sorts of denialist behavior. View From The Wing commenters of this sort are a disgrace to this website.

    Why do I mention this? Notice that nobody is doubting this man’s recollection of alleged misbehavior from a woman flight attendant.

    Next, let’s establish facts.

    1. United does have a policy that first class meals aren’t served to economy class.

    2. Asking a flight attendant to violate policy for you is contrary to etiquette and professionalism.

    3. Being a 1K or not has no bearing on your actual value to the bottom line (marginal net revenue) of the airline. In addition, each flight tends to have a large number of 1Ks — because frequent flyers fly more. These designations are way too common for flight attendants to pay any special mind. United, as all airlines, have separate designations for legitimate high value customers.

    4. Flight attendants are forced to wear badges with their actual name on them to comply with FAA regulations. This is unlike retail workers, who often go by a pseudonym specifically to avoid being blasted on the internet.

    Now, what’s my opinion? Does the passenger have a credible story? Yes.

    Is the flight attendant going to be maligned unfairly, including with racist jabs due to the ethnic name of the flight attendant being published by the passenger on reddit? Yes.

    Should the flight attendant have acted in this way? No. There is never an excuse to be rude, whether to your coworkers or to another passenger. If you’re a stickler for the rules, then enforce them in a dignified manner.

    Whether or not you are a stickler for seemingly inconsequential rules (like no F meals in Y) depends a lot on your personality and the culture you were raised or are accustomed to. Flight attendants come from all backgrounds. There are some who are going to believe that rules are rules, and there are some who will bend any rule possible.

    What transpired was a clash of ideologies between two flight attendants on this flight.

    What can UA corporate do?

    Referring back to square one, there is indeed a policy not to serve F meals in Y. Review this policy: why was it implemented? Is it still needed? I would consult with engineers on whether there is any safety issue with bringing F dinnerware and cutlery to Y seats that aren’t designed to accommodate them (but may be able to with no degradation in their safety features and certifications).

  8. Sounds like a typical United flight.

    As I note from Amtrak 129.NYP -WAS as United is apparently unable to operate this city pair w/o 5 hours delays ( or worse!)

  9. United is known for their Tattletale flight attendants. A lot of jealousy in the workplace.

  10. This is exactly the danger for empowering FA to ban passengers by putting them on a discussed and proposed industrywide no fly list. FAs sometimes lack professionalism and should be banned from the job.

  11. Good grief what a power trip. This was an issue between two FAs.

    Yeah the junior FA shouldn’t have brought the meal, nice as it was.

  12. Well he should show United Airlines the door and ask Delta Airlines for a Status match and start flying them. When he flies with Delta he should always # tag United Airlines for their mistake. The second flight attendant should be written up.

  13. “Flight attendants are forced to wear badges with their actual name on them to comply with FAA regulations.”

    Incorrect, only need ID to be worn in order to gain access to secure areas, not whilst airborne.

  14. Although the first FA obviously violated some policy, the second FA is the one who needs a serious reprimand, as in “pull a stunt like that again and it’s bye bye”. First of all, the customer asked, and was given, his prized manicotti. His part ends there. At that point the second FA should not have even approached him regarding it, unless there was a direct and immediate safety issue. Any issue should have been addressed between the two FAs and the captain if necessary. As per the 60 flights a year, you have to remember the x10 rule. If he flies 60 flights a year, he will have associates who fly 60 flights a year. The x10 rule tells us if he is upset and changes airlines, they don’t lose 60 flights a year, they lose 600 flights a year. How do you think reviews work? What type of review is most often headed? Word of mouth from an associate. So, her lack of professionalism, over an issue that certainly did not need addressed with the customer, could potentially lose the airline 600 flights.

  15. I would never ever ask for seconds of a UA meal. I have a hard time even considering eating one. Fly Singapore, eat like a King.

  16. Instead of worrying about food on United, can we get a picture of the apparently mangled landing gear on a widebody at IAD that has blocked a runway for a couple days?
    surely Jon whatever his name is on it.

  17. Seems to me that a flight attendant who has been written up twice should be taken out of the rotation and retrained for the third violation. FAs can’t be rude and obnoxious and just plain weird … this one obviously had a problem with the original FA, so she treated the pax badly. That should never be allowed. An FA who reverts to rudeness under stress needs to be moved to an easier job or rehabilitated. Rudeness to pax should never happen. I’ll just bet the two FAs were United and former Continental … some of those old-timers really have a problem with the ‘merger’ way back when. A shame they’re so unprofessional.

  18. > Incorrect, only need ID to be worn in order to gain access to secure areas, not whilst airborne.

    Incorrect, only need ID to be available to enter sterile areas. FAs don’t get to go onto the AOA and the sterile areas don’t require the ID to be worn. Convenience of wear and display vs reach into the pocket is up to the FA.

    > Flight attendants are forced to wear badges with their actual name on them to comply with FAA regulations

    FAA regulations are codified in 14 CFR. Feel free to point out what anyone is required to wear. Big hint to people making up stuff on here and expecting it to fly: It won’t, and neither do you.

    And now back to the topic.
    1K asked for a favor.
    FA#1 indulged him in violation of company policy.
    FA#2 was due and unprofessional and threatened him and his possible livelihood.
    Someone is trying to make it about a MAN and a WOMAN

    It’s not about a MAN or a WOMAN or whatever bee is in someone’s bonnet. Pax asked for a favor, much like all of us inquire about upgrade politely and as available. He did nothing wrong. His status is not relevant.

    FA#1 did the right thing by international customer service standards, but not by UAL’s policies, likely because US customer service representatives hate customers and look to find reasons to say no. (Contrast that with other countries where CSRs look for ways to please customers).

    FA#2 belongs to the group who wants to punish everyone. She’s the bully who will haze everyone because she hates that she was hazed. She’s the child abuser BECAUSE they were abused as a child. UAL seeks them out instead of rejecting them for employment.

    PAX did nothing wrong. Asked for a favor; got a favor.
    FA#1 violated company policy. Not my issue. I don’t work for UAL, and am no longer a P+ or 1K so have no say.
    FA#2 would have lost her job on my watch after the first report and I’d fight it out with the Union.
    Captain: not relevant here and shouldn’t have been made relevant here
    Kirby/UAL: Well, you can’t charge a dead battery.
    Woman who wanted to make this all about sexism and that we’re discussing this only because it’s a MAN complaining about a WOMAN missed the point entirely, but that’s what you get when your entire perceptual filter is this.

  19. Just wondering: how do airlines identify “high value” customers? Is it Global Services, Concierge Key? Or is there some other rating that’s opaque to us laymen?

  20. Wife and I were on a IAH-HNL flight and sitting in the back, didn’t get upgraded (I’m 1K ). The head purser came all the way to the back and apologized profusely for the fact that we were sitting in the back. It was really strange. She kept saying how our plane, triple 777-200 was a terrible plane, old, etc., and how the crew hated it. She kept asking us if she could get us something, anything, and my wife asked if she could have a pillow. A few minutes later she brought one, one of the big ones from the front but brought it back like it was stolen, almost hiding it, not letting or not wanting people to see it. Now I get it. They’re not supposed to be bringing stuff back from the front.

  21. Wish I could say I am surprised but I have seen how some US FA’s can act like mini-dictators towards passengers. It is always terrifying when politicians talk about giving them even more power over passengers.

  22. United being United…how in the world is FA2 still employed? Do they have a no fly list for employees?

  23. In July I had a trip planned with oldest grandson from TX to Oceania and Asia. Due to delays in getting his passport, we lost our upgrades to Polaris. Despite being in Economy Plus, a stewardess stopped and thanked me for my 1K status and asked if she get me anything. I said no. She then asked about an ice cream sundae for my grandson. Thst was perfect! Isent UA a note letting them know how much appreciate that request and they now have a new customer with my 11 year old grandson.

  24. Learning that he was in F on the previous leg and it was accidentally not catered, this is insane. This FA is exactly why we laugh at most of them now. To the first one, that’s thinking outside the box and making a good customer happy. Kudos. To FA 2, please, save us all from your misery and find a job at a local Waffle House doing the graveyard shift.

  25. Many years ago I was a vegetarian and flew Seattle to London, coach on BA. I did order a special meal. There wasn’t one. I refused meat. FA said to wait until First Class dinner was over. “We always have a few extra FC veggie meals.” Indeed, while the other passengers were settling in for the night, she brought me – Truffles. Delicious! Had there been a policy never to serve FC meals to coach, I would’ve gone hungry.

    I am currently flying United international, coach. Worst food, except for KLM, and KLM is improving. Next flight I am ordering Kosher, and hoping the meals are better.

  26. That UA flight attendant that disciplined the other flight attendant is EXACTLY the kind of FA I want to see across the board for my unionized FAs from here on out! Bravo!

  27. @alison
    Didn’t we tell you already to shut up Karen?
    Take your inferiority complex somewhere else

  28. 30west,

    One or more crew member could make up a story or exaggerate an incident in order to disparage the character and/or behavior of a passenger enough that the pilot and/or law enforcement get involved and escalate the matter in such a way as to heighten the risk of the person being banned from the airline whether or not it ends up with landing onto one the government’s aviation-related blacklists.

  29. Classic case of By the Book vs Common Sense! No winning arguments to be found here. Please return to your seats.

  30. While there is clearly an increase in problematic passengers, there also seems to be an increase in poor behavior and decision-making on the part of flight attendants. Not just in the news, such as this, but as I fly at least twice a month I’ve seen more poor attitudes and downright nastiness from FAs. Not just the usual burnout from dealing with idiots that we’ve always seen, but just a general distain for the customer.

  31. We live in a nation of mentally lazy tattletales “I’m gonna tell in you!”
    The FA must have an IQ the same as her age.

  32. Many of the Cabin Crew believe that the airline exists for their benefit . . . and too often that belief is grounded in fact and causes the mask to slip.

  33. The second flight attendant is everything that is wrong in the airline industry. Time to find a new job that does not entail customer service. The first flight attendant is a model of great customer service. I hope UA management is not stupid enough to discipline this employee or discourage future behavior of this type. There is nothing inappropriate about this other than the second flight attendants behavior. Despicable!

  34. UA policy forbids meals from F to be consumed in Y- unless it is for the F/A in the rear galley eating them in between their phone/gossip time.

  35. No passenger will ever get into any kind of trouble for accepting food from a flight attendant. The flight attendant “might” get in trouble but never the passenger.

  36. Being a FA used to be considered a glamorous, cush gig. Not the case these days. They are ignored in the safety briefs, spoken to like they have at most a 6th grade education, physically violated by being pushed, spat on, and sworn at, Who would want this job? All this being said, while the treatment of FA’s doesn’t make their nastiness appropriate, I can sort of understand how many are at the end of their rope, and it probably doesn’t take much to get their worst possible reaction to almost everything. I’m not applauding the behavior of FA#2, she never should have engaged the pax. But perhaps she’s been treated like dirt and this situation stepped on her last nerve. There are always 2 sides to every story, and we’ll never hear hers. Just sayin

  37. @ Alvert Bassimmeo. I absolutely agree that flight attendants too often are being abused and disrespected. They have Rights; as well. And the FAA should do more to help them. These passengers who disrespect flight attendants forget that in an emergency – the flight attendant can save your life. Maybe, they need to be reminded of that.

  38. You just can’t get good help anymore. This is clearly a situation of NON-teamwork, the standard at United. I worked as a flight attendant at United for 30 years. It was the worst work environment I ever had the mis-pleasure of working in. Useless middle management, poorly trained new hires, and very poor leadership is the norm these days.

Comments are closed.