CHICAGO- In a recent incident, United Airlines (UA) Flight UA20, en route from Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam (AMS), was diverted to Chicago (ORD) following a disruptive incident involving a business class passenger.
The disruption occurred when the passenger seated in 11G expressed dissatisfaction over not being served his preferred meal option. As a result, the flight crew decided to dump fuel. Subsequently, make an unscheduled landing at O’Hare International Airport.
United Airlines Flight Diverted
According to internal United communication shared by aviation watchdog JonNYC, the reason for the diversion was cited as a “Disruptive pax on board, seat 11G, threat level 1.”
Although this is the lowest level of threat, the decision to divert the flight was made due to the passenger’s extreme unruliness. This necessitated taking the costly measure of diverting the aircraft.
Notably, a MileagePlus elite passenger, as reported by JonNYC, indicated that the unruly passenger appeared to be intoxicated. This revelation adds another layer to the incident, suggesting that the passenger’s behavior may have been influenced by pre-flight alcohol consumption.
United Airlines flight UA20 is operated by Boeing 777-200ER registered as N74007. Further, the aircraft is a 24.4 years old carrier; Boeing delivered it to Continental Airlines (CO) in 1999.
The incident raises contrasting perspectives on the nature of the passenger’s meltdown. On the one hand, it seems unusual to become enraged over a meal choice on United Airlines, especially considering reports of the airline’s subpar catering compared to its competitors in the post-pandemic period.
On the other hand, it can be stressful to anticipate receiving a less-than-ideal meal option only to find out that it’s not available either. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that similar situations in the past did not result in such extreme reactions from passengers.
Given the passenger’s reported intoxication level, it is plausible that the unruly behavior stemmed from their pre-departure alcohol consumption rather than solely from dissatisfaction with the meal options served onboard.
After the disruptive passenger was removed from the aircraft and necessary refueling occurred, the United flight finally landed at its destination, Amsterdam. Albeit approximately three and a half hours behind schedule.
This incident serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by airlines in managing passenger behavior. Further ensuring a safe and pleasant travel experience for all onboard.
Like other carriers, United Airlines will likely review its protocols and procedures to prevent similar incidents.
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