Woman Trips In The Aisle Of United Flight, Sues The Airline

Lynn Goldberg tripped in the aisle of a United Airlines Boeing 737 from Fort Lauderdale to Houston on February 18, 2021. She had been seated with her husband in a middle and window seat of row 8 when she got up about 45 minutes into the flight to use the lavatory at the back of the aircraft. Ms. Goldberg wasn’t going to violate the sanctity of the first class cabin!

Passengers had been told it was safe to move about the cabin, butt “the interior cabin lighting was still turned down and the walkway was illuminated by green lights on the floor.” When she made it back to row 11 “her right foot struck a dark, hard piece of [another passenger’s] luggage that was sticking out into the aisle.” She fell, and her suit claims “she suffered serious, permanent injuries as a result of her fall.”

  • My first instinct is to think that the passenger didn’t look where she was going
  • and if the cabin was too dim for her to see well then she should have been more careful.
  • I start to wonder whether the passenger whose bag protruded into the aisle might have some responsibility.

Here’s the theory of why United is at fault,

United Airlines Flight Attendants failed to ensure that passengers were complying with FAA mandates concerning bag storage, failed to perform safety checks, failed to keep the aisle free and clear of obstruction, and failed to appropriately train its flight crew to follow federal rules and regulations.

What do you think, is a slip and fall necessarily the fault of an airline when another passenger’s bag protrudes into the aisle? Or – sometimes – do accidents happen, and unfortunate as it is, that’s why they’re called accidents?

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 »

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Comments

  1. It seems pretty clear based on the facts reported, if accurate. United should be held liable for damages.

  2. Next questions are…when that flight arrived in Houston, was HFD airport EMS called to that gate?, Did she walk off the plane on her own?, Did she go out on a stretcher?, Did airport EMS show up and did she refuse treatment?, If she walked off the plane on her own, that’s on her! NO LAWSUIT.

  3. If I’m United,I’m doing a ” deep dive ” into this person’s history/backgrounds for fraudulent allegations /claims

  4. People need to take responsibility for their OWN actions. She fibbed alot when she decided that the fall should reward her with lots of money. She seems to have injured her entire body.

  5. @Dark Star – As tempting as that is, and there are a few people who stand on principle and do it, realize that at $500/hr., that’s $20K a week for a lawyer’s time. Even $250/hr for in-house legal is $10k. And maybe a paralegal does the footwork, but the back and forth costs money. And there’s the risk of a big award via a jury. That’s why these are settled out of court for $10 to $50k. It’s the cheaper option. Wrong on a moral basis, but the correct call economically.

  6. A lot of these points are well taken and food for thought but the most ridiculous and offensive are all of you claiming she wasn’t that injured. How the hell do you know? She could have hit her head and have a permanent brain injury. She could have twisted her back and will never have another pain-free day even after back surgery. She could have wrenched her knee or hip and never walk without pain again. Stop acting like you know everything and consider a little humility. (I’m speaking only about those who are so sure they know she “wasn’t hurt” not those opining about the liability of United, which I agree is weak.)

  7. As a flight attendant who takes safety very seriously, I am curious to know if the passenger who had their bag in the aisle was already told to fix it and then moved it back. I cannot tell you how many times this happens. Just yesterday a passenger kept letting their service dog in the middle of the aisle and we told her at least 3 times that she could not do that and how dangerous it was. We can only do so much.
    Also, I fear that because of this lawsuit, we might be required to keep the lights on all the time on red eyes in the future.

  8. Since we in the US don’t have universal medical care, the only way to get treatment can be to sue someone. Happens all the time.

  9. She is at fault. It is her duty to watch where she is going. And if is probable that she was wearing a high heel footwear.

  10. @Mike – Everyone in the US is required to have health insurance. There was even a Supreme Court case about it.

    If all the passenger was requiring was United cover her legitimate medical bills, UA would probably do that without any questions asked, provided she sign a release.

  11. Flight attendants makes announcements and inform people to properly stow their bags. 45minutes after the flight means passengers can remove their belongings from under the seat and shift them around. Also means the flight attendants were most likely in the middle of doing a beverage/snack service. They don’t stand in the aisles the entire flight to make sure people keep their belongings where they are supposed to go as they have other duties and people need to be adults and follow the rules.

    You’re also not factoring in the possibility that the passenger was instructed to move their items already and moved them back after the flight attendant left.

    If this is what is going to happen where people cannot watch where they are walking then expect bright flights where the lights never get turned off. I, personally, do not want that as I like to nap on my flights. She is responsible for herself.

  12. This will result in – any one that sits in the isle seat will not be allowed bag stowed under the seat in front of them!
    I cannot tell you how many times I have tripped over someone’s backpack straps protruding into the isle… Ask the passenger to tuck their bags out of the isle so we don’t trip over them – greeted with the “are you just hassling me” attitude. So tell me… please
    When does the passenger have responsibility for their own actions and behavior???!

  13. She gets shit. Why would you go to the back of the plane from row 8 . Stay in your 1st class elitist csnin.

  14. I have a question. Why is the type of hate speech demonstrated by Go Figure permitted to remain posted?

  15. I think that a lawsuit seems to be the go to excuse for not watchong where you are going. I personally don’t blame anyone but myself for tripping and falling. Accidents happen and overly zealous lawsuits are the very thing that keeps prices absurdly high. I’m sure this was an accidental thing. Unfortunately there is very little leg room . I have gone to the lavatory with the lights dimmed on United flights and.my attitude was careful of a foot , or anything sticking out . Honestly it could have been a person’s shoe.

  16. Sue, sue sue!! I’d be a millionaire if I sued for every careless incident that happened. United is a great airline with well qualified flight attendants and crew!!

  17. What a joke! There are no “green lights” at floor level on any aircraft! Maybe she was drunk and seeing “green lights” in a stupor?

  18. What a joke! There are no “green lights” at floor level on any aircraft! Maybe she was drunk and seeing “green lights” in a stupor?

  19. It apparently was too dark in the cabin to see properly. The flight attendants said it was ok to get up. At 45 minutes into the flight they were probably doing beverage service and the lights should have been on. Airlines can not control what passengers do every second, but they should ensure that their employees are following procedures. If they were not, then she should win.

  20. I usually hear “lawsuit” and I just cringe…however, anyone who has flown in the past few years can tell you that the limited space on airplanes is just ridiculous! You’re now so packed in there so tight that it is impossible for anyone over 5’2″ to stretch their legs forward while sitting in their own seat. If you have to pass over someone to get to the aisle, you literally are touching body to body.
    I’m sorry this happened, but I’m glad she’s suing.

  21. @c_m. I don’t know where you’re getting this from. I haven’t had insurance for 5 years and before you remark anything ugly…yes, I file my taxes.

  22. @Melanie – Why would I say anything ugly? I think you’re being foolish, but that’s your choice. And I happen to think insurance is sort of a fool’s game, but a necessary evil. I buy as little as possible, I shop around, but I do buy it. (Sometimes it’s also required by law.) Not travel insurance or trip insurance, but auto, home, health, life, and liability – responsible financial planning kind of requires that, unless you have nothing to begin with or you’ve got so much, you can afford to self-insure. (If you’re single, carrying little insurance makes sense, having dependents changes things a lot.)

    The average person in the middle can’t afford the hit of being uninsured should disaster strike. And that will happen. I live in flyover country, where everyone gets a new roof, paid for by insurance, every 5-15 years. If it’s 5 and you don’t have insurance, that’s a big hole in your pocket, if it’s 15, you could have saved up, but most people don’t. Think of insurance as a tool, it’s useful or a danger. How you use it is up to you, but life is going to happen whether you have it or not.

  23. I’m surprised ol’ GAAry didn’t somehow blame AA for this.

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