Apologists are United for passenger thrown off plane

Matthew is 26 years old, writes a popular blog about the airline industry and is a frequent flyer - so frequent, in fact, that he's due to hit a million airmiles accumulated with United Airlines.

The guts of the story is this: Matthew was flying from Newark to Istanbul in business class. He wanted to write a review of the new cabins and took a single photo , while seated, of the headrest in front. A flight attendant warned him it was against company policy to take photos of the aircraft (it's arguable whether it is or not), and went on to chastise another passenger for doing similar. As a frequent flyer, Matthew felt the need to apologise, so he said to the attendant:

"I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn't think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog."

This exchange led to Matthew being led away by an airline representative and, eventually, a conversation with the captain:

Captain: Sir, you are not flying on this flight.

Me: Can you tell me why?

Captain: My FA tells me she told you to stop taking pictures and you continued to take pictures.

Me: That's a lie, captain. She told me stop taking pictures and I stopped. I did try to explain to her why I was taking pictures—I am a travel writer [I offered him one of my business cards and he too refused to accept it].

Captain: Look, I don't care. You are not flying on this flight. You can make this easy or make this difficult. We'll call the police if we have to.

Me: Why are you threatening me? Your FA is lying—I did not disobey any crewmember instruction.

Captain: Look, we're already late. I'd advise you to get off this plane now. Make it easy on yourself. Don't make us bring the police in. Goodbye.

That's the short version; the full details are available on Matthew's blog. The bottom line is that Matthew is angry at the flight attendant because she lied to the captain by claiming he ignored her and continued taking photos:

 I did nothing wrong and the FA who lied about me should be held to account by United. Surely, a liar is more of a security threat than a passenger who wants to take a picture of his seat.

I have nothing to hide other than my humiliation for being thrown off a flight on the pretense of a mistruth.

Several passengers on the same flight have commented on the blog and verified key aspects of Matthew's story, but there's plenty of support for his version of events, but what's more interesting is the reaction from others reading the story. Not those who think Matthew is an idiot for using the word "terrorist' (after all, one terrorist attack 11 years ago should mean we should never try and deny being one), but those who are adamant that Matthew was an idiot for taking the time to apologise in the first place:

Learn how to swallow your pride and keep your mouth shut.

Suck it up princess in future when in business class just kick back, smile be happy and enjoy the flight.

There is a reason for the airlines rules. It is to protect the public and I would like to be safe as a single mother of two girls. I suggest passengers get on the flight, behave and have respect for other passengers as well as the flight crew.

Reading your version of events, United is mostly to blame. you share some of the blame though. She told you to stop taking pictures, and right or wrong, you should have just stopped and let the matter go.

Hate to say it, but you should have stopped taking the pictures (like you did), apologize, and not mention the subject again.

The best thing to do at this point is STFU, work it out with UAL, and hope that they don't flag you onto the no-fly list.

Thanks to the internet we've become world-class complainers; everyone has a voice, including those who have nothing to say and no right to say it. Social media is worse, full of customers telling half-truths and outright lies in a bid to extract compensation from companies. In amongst all the bluster, however, are genuine grievances, concerns and complaints. The bottom line is that 'passengers' are ultimately 'customers' too - so how did we get to the point where so many feel they're not allowed to speak onboard a plane, let alone complain?

What say you, avid reader? Apologist nonsense or passenger lunacy?


  • Bungle2000
    Are all Americans retarded, or just the ones that use the internet? Some of those comments are like reading the Daily Mail Online comments section, retarded.
  • db
    From my experience, it sounds pretty typical of United. I'll never fly with them again after the way they treated me and my wife on the way back from our wedding and honeymoon in the US. Not only were 90% of the employees I spoke to rude, but they were utter spanners too. Nobbers.
  • Nikey H.
    Those idiots who made the last 6 comments deserves a good bitchslap! I side with Matthew with this one. I regularly fly with Emirates and Etihad and takes pictures as I love flying and love both these airlines. Every journey is like a trip to Disneyland for me!
  • Simple moral - record all conversations with flight crew... so one more thing that's needs to be taken on-board a digital recorder... and pretend to use the phone whilst taking a picture.
  • Alexis
    Jobsworths. Give someone a uniform and tell them there are some rules to follow and customer service goes out of the window.
  • B202
    Everything you need to know to understand this story is contained in this simple phrase, 'Matthew is 26 years old...'
  • boring b.
    Siding with Matthew, FA seems to have power issues and Pilot's an idiot. He could have made it easier for himself, but he did no wrong.

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