Taking a Picture = Getting kicked off a flight?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by edekba, Feb 19, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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  2. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    I rather sympathize with the United staff on this one for 2 reasons. It's not really important whose opinion was more valid.
    1. The extended debate between the passenger and FA was pointless, because the former stopped taking pictures and was ok with that.
    2. The passenger's insistence on a polite but pointless debate could be interpreted as disruptive, especially during the takeoff preparation.

    I know there are some great and reasonable folks, who just can't drop a subject. It doesn't matter to them that a subject is trivial and not worth the wasted time. Seems like in this case the captain had to make a quick character judgment. He may have misjudged the situation, but I understand where he was coming from.
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yup.

    I've had FA up in arms when I've done completely "normal" things on the plane. Rather than fighting with them about it I sit down, reminding myself that they get to set the rules because it is their plane. Fighting with the FAs will get you booted off the plane. And it should.
     
  4. emwitty

    emwitty Silver Member

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    I really want to hear the other side of this story. It's not clear to me yet that there was actually any kind of "fight" only the use, perhaps, of a hot-button word, "terrorist", which admittedly seems careless to have used.
    That said, I can't wait for my IST trip, I'm training for this exact situation in the kobayashi maru simulator.
     
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  5. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    My learning event was a FA telling me to remove my noise obstructing earbuds on takeoff since they had a wire coming off of them (although they were not plugged into anything). She said it was electronics and had to be taken out of the ears (and this was a Q-200) . I came this close to getting tossed off the plane for "debating " her logic. :confused:
    Fortunately, I had a fit of sanity before that unfortunate event and pulled them out of my ears and said nothing further.

    Nowadays, my rule is: if the FA says jump, I simply ask "how high".:rolleyes:
     
  6. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    The fellow this happened to has a history of posting about arguments he gets into with people trying to enforce rules in which he is clearly belittling and takes a "Do you know who I am" attitude. To his credit, he usually doesn't make any attempt to hide his attitude in his posts; no such attitude was evident in his post about this subject, so perhaps it wasn't there. But, based on past reports I'm inclined to believe that Matt probably didn't try too hard to hide the fact that he thought the attendant was stupid.

    The follow-up argument (with the "hey, look at my business card") was pointless. The only appropriate thing to say was either A) nothing or B) "I just wanted to apologize if I was short with you before."

    There's a comment well down in the original post from a airline staffer expressing sympathy with Matt but stating that when he included the word "terrorist" in his follow-up argument with the flight attendant he elevated the situation to an entirely different level.

    I don't envy flight attendants their jobs, especially in the current cost-cutting environment. I can't see how arguing with one over a pointless issue helps anything (except, possibly, blog readership).
     
  7. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Contrast that with my getting a First-class cabin FA on a recent CA flight from TPE to PVG to take a picture of me posing as a mafia don with dark glasses because, incredibly, I found myself as the only passenger in the cabin! :cool:
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    That may all be true, but then I don't really understand why the airline (UA in this case) generally puts the pax on another flight and apparently feels that the same allegedly disruptive passenger is then in a better mood and less of a threat.
     
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  9. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    Don't you think there are a few steps between making a minor disruption once and becoming a "threat"? I think the airlines do have stronger measures (like blacklisting) for the pax who become a threat.
     
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Yes, but the point is: if there is enough of a reason to remove the passenger from flight A, why is it then okay to put the same (now perhaps even angrier) person on the next flight B?

    And, is the crew of the next flight being told about the passenger? What if they are rebooked on another airline? ("we think he's disruptive, let's send him to AA")
     
  11. General_Flyer
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    General_Flyer Gold Member

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    I think it might've been Continental... Not UA...
     
  12. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    It's a good point. I don't think the airlines would put an erratic / very angry passenger on a next flight. If you're aware of any passenger disrupting several flights in a row, then it would partially be an airline's fault.
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    such as...? Climbing in overhead bins?

    There are a few places in life today where it's not wise to argue. With the TSA when going through security to reach your flight. With the flight crew. With the cop pulling you over for XYZ. Of course, you're right and they are wrong. And you're going to lose anyway.

    On the other hand... I do hope that United investigates this issue, and if the FA did lie about the passenger's actions (taking multiple photos), there should be consequences.
     
  14. Rob
    Original Member

    Rob Gold Member

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    Why? Blogger says it was a legacy UA crew, on a legacy UA plane.
     
  15. General_Flyer
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    General_Flyer Gold Member

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    I guess I didn't read that line.. But I've always had magnificent UA crews no matter where I travel, and the only times I've had aggravating experiences are with CO crews.
     
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Every airline has good and bad employees.
     
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  17. SM105

    SM105 Silver Member

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    An airline crew have the absolute right to remove any passenger they choose from an aircraft that they are operating for any reason whatsoever.

    The passenger has the absolute right to seek restitution for their actions after the fact.

    The crew exercised their rights and the passenger is free to exercise his rights now. Certainly, it may have been better for all concerned if the incident never occurred to begin with, but now that it has happened let due process take its course.

    I have been in all three situations at various times over the years. I have been the passenger subjected to demeaning treatment by airline staff, been the airline staff member making the decision to deny travel to a passenger demonstrating uncooperative behaviour and finally, have been the manager investigating incidents such as this. In most cases (including, in retrospect, some of the ones where I was the passenger), there is more going on behind the scenes than is prima facie apparent to the passenger.

    Airlines do not have an interest in removing passengers from their aircraft for no reason. It generates bad publicity and ill feeling, incurs costs and winds up wasting a valuable empty seat on an aircraft. While the passenger may not ever get the full story, you can be pretty certain that this kind of incident will result in a review, and if either the crewmember or passenger in question displays a trend of such behaviour, this will be factored into any follow-up actions.
     
  18. HeathrowGuy
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    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

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    I posted this elsewhere, worth reposting here:

    1. I've been fortunate to meet many members of MP and FlyerTalk over the years. In general, as I get to "know" people over time through their postings and in real life, I learn that most are relatively well-meaning (i.e., don't intend to be belligerent towards others)...and also highly varied vis-a-vis social skills (most members are, of course, techie types, and it's still an un-PC truth that many techies face challenges in face-to-face communication and expression compared to those in more extroverted/socially interactive fields). In this regard, it's not at all hard for me to see how members of both groups can easily get into a confrontation with a FA (even a not-so-power trippy one)...even though no offense/DYKWIA from the pax was ever intended.

    And lest anyone think I'm picking on techies, the social deficits problem is also commonplace among many lawyers, too. I freely admit that douchebaggery appears tempting at first glance, but as a practicing lawyer (and travel junkie), I've yielded much, much better results through a sincere mix of kindness, empathy, and cleverness.

    2. Sort of related to thought #1, saying he writes a travel blog and that United senior management is aware of it was basically just as bad as saying he's a terrorist from a crewmember point of view. True, he's not looking to crash the plane, but he basically admitted he has the means, connections, and motivation to publicize the flight and its crew in an unfavorable light and to jeopardize their flying careers. And anyone truly "in the know" (i.e., to the point of mentioning "the folks in Chicago" being aware of his work) about the current goings-on at United is aware of the reality that many United employees are indeed in a wary state, first because of merger/integration-related changes and second because of the bad press the airline has been subjected to over the past year.

    3. The proper response when the FA asked him to stop taking pictures was to put away the camera, and if further explanation was truly necessary, to say something like "I'm sorry about the photo. I like to take pictures on my international trips, and I am so glad to finally sit in BusinessFirst", or something lighthearted to that effect. All but the most power-trippy FAs would have let it go at that point, and most would have in fact turned somewhat positive, perhaps offering their thoughts about the great BF seat or service (or their wish to fly in it one day themsevles).

    4. Completely unrelated to thoughts 1-3, but still worth mentioning. I know many travel bloggers mean well (or at least don't intend to be flagrantly malicious), but **some actions of some travel bloggers** have been contributing significantly towards a growing souring attitude within some quarters of United (and other airlines). Perhaps the best way I can describe it is that UA (and back in the day, CO) -- and to be sure, other airlines -- had less of a problem with various phenomena when the knowledge was largely confined to intra-community discussion, but the publicized exploitation of those phenomena to wider audiences is having the effect of poisoning the wells for what are likely, at best, short term gains to the bloggers involved.
     
  19. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    And the same goes for passengers. . .
     
  20. SM105

    SM105 Silver Member

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    Indeed. There was no need for the passenger to escalate the issue at the time by following up with the crewmember immediately. It was the escalation that eventually led to the situation whereby the crewmember perceived him as a threat. Whether or not this perception was justified will be determined by subsequent investigation, but that is not the standard that was required to be met on the scene at that time. By proactively introducing additional information into the narrative, the passenger didn't do himself any favours with regards to pacifying any potential threat being perceived by the crewmember (which was presumably not being escalated prior to the second interaction).

    Intent and perception are often different in any human interaction. This seems to be an example of how this can lead to unfortunate results.
     
  21. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Goes without saying.
     
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  22. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    On reading the story, I kind of wondered if implying that the OP had influence with management in Chicago was seen as attempting to intimidate the FA in the performance of her duties. I still think it was an overreaction to throw him off the flight, but given how many people have mentioned also taking pictures onboard in the various comments about his posts, there must have been something different about his case.

    Sounds like a perfect example of confirmation bias to me.

    I'll also point out http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unit...i-change-clothes-needs-advice-ft-members.html and http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/prac...044870-can-pilot-ask-you-leave-his-plane.html

    Let's also not forget that for Matthew's exceptional loyalty to UA, he hasn't been a great customer, writing of frequently taking advantage of mistake fares (http://upgrd.com/matthew/united-pulls-550-ontario-tampa-first-class-fare.html) and requesting skykits for any and every issue (http://upgrd.com/matthew/long-weekend-in-los-angeles.html http://upgrd.com/matthew/smooth-sailing-on-united-today.html).
     
  23. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    However, noting justifies the fact that the FA lied to the pilot. She could have said the truth that she perceived the passenger to be disruptive. (Of course I am assuming that Matthew's account is correct)
     
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  24. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    Absolutely agree. FA's shouldn't make up things. Personally, I might have phrased it differently with the captain: "I followed her instructions and didn't take any more pictures, perhaps someone else did and she thought it was me" sounds less confrontational than "That's a lie, captain" and "Why are you threatening me? Your FA is lying", at least IMHO.
     
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  25. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    There are so many possibilities here, it will not be possible to actually figure out what happened:

    1. The flight attendant is lying.
    2. Matt is lying.
    3. The flight attendant or Matt, or both, were mistaken about the the order in which things happened or exactly what was said.
    4. The pilot is lying. It's entirely possible that the flight attendant reported an unruly or unpleasant passenger and the pilot decided to shade the truth in order to have more supportable reason for kicking the passenger off the flight.

    Who can say?
     
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