A United Airlines plane that was scheduled to fly from Shanghai, China to Newark, New Jersey last Wednesday sat delayed for 3 days as tempers boiled over.
United Airlines Flight 87 was scheduled to bring its 255 passengers to Newark International Airport (EWR) from Shanghai for a 13 hour flight, but the flight was delayed because maintenance had to be performed on the Boeing 777.
After the lengthy delay the flight was delayed once again for another maintenance issue. This dragged on until Friday and according to some passengers United was not very helpful nor giving out any information.
“You get the runaround by these airlines, said passenger Steve Borowka. “You’re so powerless, just so humiliated and frustrated and you get so upset.”
Then, the flight was delayed again because the flight crew had been on duty too long.
One account said as tempers were flaring on both sides, an airport official and a passenger got in to a physical altercation.
“They [airport officials] grabbed him by the tie, and they pulled him physically across the counter and started slapping him,” said passenger Pat Sinko, describing what happened to another passenger.
Reports say a Chinese flyer staged a mini-revolt blocking the gate so people on another flight could not board.
“He was like if we’re not getting on that plane, nobody is getting on that plane,” said Borowka.
The pilot of United Flight 87 ended up having to speak to the increasingly unruly crowd and warned them to cooperate if they wanted to get home.
“That is the only way we’re going to get out of here. … My crew, the other crew, we want to go as much as you do,” the pilot said. “I can tell you the alternative is, if we don’t have cooperation boarding here, these planes may leave empty.”
A flyer who said he was on the flight emailed Airnation.net and said in between delays their baggage was dumped back in to the airport baggage area but were not even told. They had to find out by word-of-mouth on their own that their luggage was there.
Finally, after 3 days of delay, Flight 87 took the weary travelers to Newark.
United Airlines has said they are giving the passengers each a $1,000 voucher but some have said they will never use it.
Image: Flickr [PhillipC]