An altercation on a recent United Airlines flight from Shanghai to Newark, New Jersey ended up resulting in a more than eight hour delay after the plane was forced to make an unscheduled stop in San Francisco due to an incident involving an unruly passenger. The incident threatened to provide even more bad publicity for United Airlines after the recent debacle where an elderly doctor was forcefully dragged off the plane by police after being involuntarily bumped from the flight and refusing to give up his seat.
At first glance, the most recent altercation appeared to have a slight political tinge after passengers noted that the passenger at the center of the incident was wearing one of President Trump’s trademark ‘Make America Great Again’ hats. Further adding fuel to this fire was the fact that videos then emerged showing other passengers chanting ‘lock him up’ as the man was escorted off the plane.
However, looking more closely into the story seems to reveal that political tension wasn’t the source of the problem. Despite the fact that the man at one point berated a female passenger by calling her a lesbian and then referring to her as ‘Hillary,’ it seems that the passenger wasn’t motivated by politics, but rather a desire to sue United in hopes that he could receive a large settlement as was reportedly the case in the incident involving the doctor.
Other passengers on the same flight have reported that the passenger was originally angry at being refused an upgrade, and as such, demanded several seats to himself. When told this was not possible, the passenger became even more irate and even mentioned several times that he wanted to be dragged off the plane so he could sue.
The flight attendants reportedly made every effort to placate the passenger, but as he would not cooperate or comply with the crew’s instructions, they were eventually forced to ask him to get off the plane. Despite his refusal to comply, the passenger didn’t get his wish of being physically removed by force and eventually ended up walking off plane of his own will.
However, he still caused the flight to delay its schedule departure from Shanghai by more than five hours. Furthermore, due to time constraints on the amount of hours a crew can work, the flight was forced to stop in San Francisco and change crews—all of which resulted in it landing in Newark more than eight hours behind schedule.
Of course, United probably won’t be all that concerned with the delay as obviously the most important thing to the company is that, at least this time, its employees acted properly and the incident didn’t lead to another scandal.