back to article Airline ejects passenger for being hungry

United Airlines ejected a loyal first class passenger from a recent plane flight because he asked if he would be getting dinner. At least, that's his story. He may have been ejected because he's the sort of security threat who claims he's talking about food when he's really talking about the police. United takes such threats …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do I think he's talking shitze?

    When was the last time you heard of a person being hauled off an airplane for asking if they serve a meal in first class? People tend to make a lot of stupid security comments on airlines or in terminals these days and this guy probably did the same. IMO he should have been removed just for being arrogant and ignorant in regards to security.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Talking s**t? That'll be the airline

      So your story is that he was thrown off the plane for security reasons.

      But then he was allowed on the next plane (stil a security risk, presumably). That sounds realistic.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      You seem to be making a number of wild assumptions there!! I don't know the real story any more than you do but as far as I can tell he did nothing to suggest he was being "arragant" or "ignorant" - are we reading the same story?

      Either way, it all sounds rather odd.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      And you sir should be removed for rabid paranoia and lack of sense of humour

      There is a hilarious skit from one of the best Russian stand-up comedians.

      According to him (that is mid-90es, before 9/11) when asked at different airports around the world "Do you carry drugs" he answered "Not this time, I left them at home".

      So in Italy he got: "Oh how could you do such a thing, these are not things to be forgotten, make sure you bring some next time.

      In Britain: "Next time please do not forget them".

      In America: "WHERE IS HOME!?!"

      1. Graham Wilson

        @A, Coward - Be warned that in the US irony will be considered a weapon.

        Irony is not a strong point for Americans, they take words so literally.

        Those of us from the UK or Oz etc. who instinctively have it as a keener sense should be warned their irony will be considered a weapon if they expose it with a ten mile radius of a US airport or border entry point.

        Don't say you haven't been warned!

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. tim 4
          Black Helicopters


          is like goldy or bronzey , but made out of iron[ to paraphrase baldric] , which makes it dangerous. you could do some one an injury with a good chunk of irony....

          i worked contract [and non tsa ] security in the us at manchester airport for near two years.....

          the stories i could tell about airline japes and wack-job passengers alike are impressive...

          black heli , because it's the safest way to fly, and they'll be on their way now.....

    4. Robert E A Harvey
      Thumb Down

      Security theatre is out of control

      Last year I witnessed a polite, nervous, old man ask a stewardess if he could be moved as his seatback would not stay upright. She started screaming at him, and a few minutes later the captain came back and said he would not tolerate passengers behaving like that, and that the police had been called. I immediately gave him my business card, saying I'd heard the whole thing and would stand by him if he were prosecuted, or chose to sue for defamation. Half a dozen other people joined in.

      When the police arrived he was arrested in front of all of us under security legislation, although there had been no mention of any security matters before, and he was hauled off. The police later took a statement from me by phone, and when I got back to the UK I was interviewed - not about his 'offence' but about my behaviour in offering support to a terrorist subject. I just laughed at them.

      I had already written to the airline about this sham, and got no reply at all.

      In other incidents, I have had my 'kensington' cable confiscated at the bag search, because the loop meant it could be used as a garotte. They also took my RS232 and Allen Bradley cables 'in case I strangled someone with them', but left the power cable for the PC 'because you need that for the computer'. Last week I had a roll of PVC insulating tape confiscated 'because you can restrain someone with it' I pointed out that someone would have to be remarkably compliant, and it would be much faster to loop my belt through it's buckle and use that. Blank confusion.

      In January I was on a plane with an armed passenger, who was merely asked to surrender the gun to the chief steward after it was discovered. No-one called the police or had him arrested. Oh yes, that was a flight from Washington to Dallas. They gave him his gun back as we got off.

      My last flight from Aberdeen to Humberside was delayed 'for security reasons'. I quizzed the cabin staff who admitted that the spelling of someone's name on the boarding pass did not match the passport, and they had been taken away by the scottish police.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Some fluff...

        First, I do agree that you have to be careful in not only what you said but how you say it. Flight attendants have a lot of authority.

        Your 'kensington' cable could be considered a weapon. So to could your shoelace if it had a lot of knots strategically placed on it. (But I doubt the security types are looking at your shoelaces.)

        As to the 'duct tape' yes, it too should have been confiscated.

        I agree with the other poster. You're being daft in some of your statements.

        As to your story about a 'passenger' with a gun... you don't say who he was. (Active duty soldlier, law enforcement, etc...) So I find your story less than credible.


        1. Robert E A Harvey
          Thumb Down


          "As to your story about a 'passenger' with a gun... you don't say who he was. (Active duty soldlier, law enforcement, etc...)"

          How am I supposed to know? He was some geezer sitting on a plane with a gun in his carry-on bag. I'm not psychic. He might have been the duke of kent or a kentucky barkeeper for all I know.

      2. Graham Wilson

        @Robert E A Harvey - It's no wonder the airlines are going broke.

        It's no wonder the airlines are going broke.

        Traveling by air has become so tedious because of security and petty rules and regulations that I avoid trips and I know others who do so too. I don't believe we're alone in avoiding travelling, add it all up and I reckon it's a significant reason why the airlines are struggling financially.

        Frankly, the terrorists have won because of our overreaction to the treat.

        To make matters worse, our society has become so timid and risk-averse that we amplify even the most trivial of safety or security matters into headline news. Moreover, we were on this trend long before 9/11, for example (one of many I could give): when I was a kid if you were driven to school by your parents you'd be teased and demeaned by your peers and called mummy's sook*; now it's just the norm and for some strange reason everyone just accepts wrapping up our kids in cotton wool as the norm.

        Of course, society's new parasitic leech, the security and safety industry, has much to do with it; it has risen to such heights and authority since 9/11 that soon it'll be rivaling the Gestapo in prominence and importance, not to mention the huge additional cost we're all burdened with to support it.

        Furthermore, the incessant propaganda from this mob and their kindred brethren the insurance and litigation industries is both pernicious and especially hard to counter as it's very difficult to argue against safety, especially so if you're a politician or bureaucrat. Can you imagine what would happen to a politician if he argued against some safety measure and something happened even if it were unrelated to that measure? Right, the media would instantly have his nuts on a plate!

        That society has swept aside normal prudent safety measures in favour of an irrational safety phobia is a tragedy for society, especially so for youngsters who have to grow up knowing nothing else. Stop for a second or two and consider what those dwindling numbers of citizens who lived through WWII--those who had to endure months and months of REAL and EXTREME danger of battlefields and the blitz and who had to take it all in their stride--must think of this new social ill. I'm well a generation younger and I'm horrified.

        But like lemmings we accept this new fate and do nothing about it. 'Tis much easier to veg out watching some soporific mind-numbing trash from the Beeb on our new wide-screen plasmas and forget all about it, that is until we next have to go to the airport.


        * A cowardly or timid crybaby to those of you who don't reside in Oz.

        1. Mike Smith
          Thumb Up

          Hell, yes

          That is all.

    5. TomasF

      I have two issues with your comment

      So you conclude that he was being arrogant and ignorant with regards to security based on this article. Either he asked if meals being served, or he asked if there was police on board. I think many of us are ignorant enough to not realize ANY of those two questions were a security threat, but OK. So they're right, asking if police is aboard is a grave security issue and this guy can't be allowed to fly.

      Good call to put him on the next flight then... I feel much safer now.

      TBH I've heard enough crap from security people around Europe (which from what I can tell are nothing compared to the stories from the US) to find this perfectly believable. And if I were to make up a reason for why I was booted of a plane, I could make it a lot better than that

    6. Chizo Ejindu


      Err i'll think you'll find in this borderline OCD age of flight security the LAST thing anyone would do is to joke about any aspect of airline security or police or anything. Judging by the fact he was immediately booked on the next flight rather than taken to some windowless office which happened to be "down a number of flights of steps" says this was just a misunderstanding imho.

    7. nichomach

      Of course...

      ...the thought that the stewardess might have been suffering a build-up of earwax and misheard him (and then, having summoned security, didn't want to admit the possibility of error) wouldn't occur to you, would it?

      1. Graham Wilson

        @nichomach: Air travel is now about as distasteful as spenting time in a public loo.

        Irrespective of reason, it supports my theory that air travel is NOW about as distasteful as spending the equivalent time in a public toilet, it's something normal people wish to avoid.

        That it not used to be this way tells us much about the problem.

    8. tim morrison

      hmmmm.... undecided....!

      On the one hand, I would have thought that if the stewardess had mis-heard him, she would have tried to clarify what he'd said.... on the other hand, I have flown UA and have found the cabin crew to be the surliest I have ever met.

      I can see either happening, but I do suspect this guy gobbed off and didn't know when to stop and now wishes to portray himself as a hard-done-by.

    9. Roger Kynaston
      Paris Hilton

      does not compute

      But in this situation, the airline/security gorillas would have stated that this is what he had done. Looks like airline security gone bonkers again.

      PH because she wouldn't need a meal.

    10. Neil Milner-Harris

      Or just perhaps

      The stewardess wasn't really paying attention and misheard him?

    11. Eugene Meany

      Easy mistake.

      He probably asked "Is that bacon that I can smell?"

    12. stu 4

      sounds like you've never had the pleasure of flying with american stewards...

      there are, to a person the most obnoxious self righteous people you will ever meet.

      The standard one they usually go for on being asked anything they can't be bothered with (which is basically everything):

      "please do not raise your voice sir."

      "i am not raising my voice (whisperinng)"

      "If you continue to use that tone of voice I will be forced to restrain you sir"

      etc, etc.

      they are a bunch of absolute wankers.

      I would put money on it that the bloke said something that wound them up and they new all they needed to do was use the terrorist card.

    13. Stef 4


      "When was the last time you heard of a person being hauled off an airplane for asking if they serve a meal in first class?"

      Did you not read the article? He was hauled off the flight for allegedly asking if there were police on board. He might have thought he asked about a meal, but I am fairly confident that the highly trained counter-terrorist agent disguised as a flight attendant saw through his strategy and knew he was actually asking about how many well-armed air marshals were on board.

    14. Shinobi87
      Thumb Down

      yea im sure thats right

      lets just remove him and call this guy arrogant and ignorant without knowing anything about the matter or the guy. good job :|

    15. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't see how removing people who ask questions increases security

      And it's just possible that this behaviour by the airline could be exploited so as to decrease security. For example, you might be able to have an undercover cop removed from a flight by claiming that you thought that he had asked whether the police were on board. (The cop might believe it's a genuine misunderstanding and prefer not to break his cover.) Perhaps someone can come up with a better exploit. However, if you come up with a really good one you should perhaps find a better use for it than just publishing it here ...

  2. Gilleain Torrance

    Internet marketer

    Hmmm. I don't mean to sound suspicious, but this guy is in internet marketing....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd better brush up on the appropriate security demeanour then. I really wouldn't want to get caught short showing less than an encyclopaedic knowledge of airport security procedures, threats, foibles, quirks, fallacies, fictions, paranoias or get rich quick schemes for those in the 'security theatre electronics' business, lest insufficient forelock tugging to the threat profile du jour gets me a stern chat from an Important Official with The Proper Mindset.

    Glad someone's on the ball!

  4. Slaytanic

    The stewardess is a biatch

    A post above mine thinks the guy is lying, and I believe that the stewardess is just being a bitch to this guy for some reason or another. A loyal first class passenger is really going to ask if there are police on board? Um, I'm not even American and I know that there are police on every American domestic flight, so why would he ask this? No, I think the real reason is that this guy has probably pissed off this stewardess in the past (remember "loyal first class customer", probably flies a lot) and she wanted him off the plane and made up the "police story" to get him kicked off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      I'm with you on this. The staff of United are all tossers. If you look at them the wrong way they can and will threaten you with ejection and arrest (it's happened to me).

      The only puzzle is why would a seasoned flyer still be using United? Something smells fishy there :)

  5. Anonymous John

    it was her word against his..

    No fellow passengers to hear it?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      like i'm gonna stick my neck out after ive just seen a power mad stewardess chuck someone out of first class for asking about a meal.

      1. TimeMaster T


        Just don't be surprised that no one speaks up for YOU when its your turn.

        If you "Don't want to get involved" just remember the line about "When they came for the ..." and remember it when they throw you off for wearing a T-shirt that gets stewardess mad.

        Fire, because that is how it will end.

  6. Scott 1

    @ Anon. Coward

    You have jumped to the conclusion that this patron was being a prick without any supporting evidence. IMO that means you are being both arrogant and ignorant yourself.

    Let me propose another likely scenario: During boarding, when this presumably happened, the inside of an aircraft can be quite noisy. The patron may have indeed asked an attendant whether meals were being served. However, the attendant could have misheard him amid the chaos and clatter of people making their way to their seats, stowing their luggage, and negotiating for the aisle/window seats.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Then like any normal, polite member of customer facing staff, should have at least asked him to repeat what he had said to ensure she had heard correctly.

      Too much of this heavy handiness smacks of post 11 September slamming the gate after the horse has let himself out, hooked up a carriage, loadied fee paying passengers and nicked off. As in America's wants in foreign theatres of war - OVERKILL.

      Badgers, because like Americans it's just black and white.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds typical

    Having experienced the incompetence and ineptitude of United Airlines and having been blatantly lied to by their cabin crew on more than one occasion I wouldn't be surprised if this is true. If the member of cabin crew decided they didn't like his attitude then what better way of getting even with him than getting him booted off the plane.

  8. hugo tyson
    Black Helicopters

    Did we just all learn a secret codeword?

    Did we? Will the meal be served *with wine*? <wink wink>

  9. Matthew Collier

    That attitude....

    ....IMHO, is part of the problem, and shows how "they" are winning in the "War on a noun"...

    Even if he *did* ask if the Police were on board, so what!!!???

  10. Richard_C

    1st class service

    Perhaps he could smell bacon... and pigs might fly...

    Getting my coat, the one with the all-day-breakfast roll in the pocket please.

    1. Rob
      Thumb Up


      ...all-day-breakfast....brb, cafe down the road....

  11. Jim Coleman

    But but but...

    ...they were perfectly happy for him to be a security risk on the next flight?

  12. /\/\j17

    Come on El Reg, tell us what we are all waiting to hear!

    Were they serving food one the second flight?

  13. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    When's the last time... heard of someone being detained for the use of an Australian colloquialism on an aeroplane?

    Oh, right.

    Flight attendants aren't hired for their knowledge or intelligence. You'd think they would be hired for their hearing acuity though, but perhaps not.

    1. Doug Glass

      They are there to ...

      ...serve and protect. Just be thankful the empty headed wannabes aren't issued weapons.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


      This was intended to be a direct reply to our esteemed colleague, Anonymous Coward and FRIST POSTER OMG.

      Didn't quite turn out that way. Hope that puts my ramblings in context. Ahem.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    they had run out of doughnuts, and the flight attendant thought he said 'are you serving pigs onboard'

  15. ThaMossop

    Details missing

    Something missing from this story here. Maybe he was talking about police to someone else on the plane and was after the steward/ess overheard.

    Since when is it a crime to ask if there are police aboard a plane. Yes, she could decline to answer for security purposes, that's fine, but to kick someone off the plane, for that...

  16. Shane McCarrick

    Someone really needs to say enough is enough for the sake of ordinary travellers

    Why am I not surprised?

    AirFrance recently 'securely destroyed' my luggage- because I had a round tin of shortbread in my checked-in bag, that could have been a bomb. For good measure- they gathered up the destroyed remains (complete with plenty of securely destroyed biscuit crumbs), packaged it up in a clear plastic bag with security seals, and put it back in the hold- without ever letting me know (the first I knew was when it came out on the baggage conveyor at the other end- along with all other luggage).

    Someone seriously needs to say enough is enough- all this heavy handed treatment in the name of 'security' really is a load of bollocks. Next time I'm going to take the train.......

  17. lewton

    Did he ask if he was going to be 'fed' on this flight


  18. Doug Glass

    Next Time ...

    ... load up on beans and boiled eggs one hour before departure and serve up your own revenge. But the I guess releasing "toxic" gas might ne a security risk too.

    1. Daf L
      Thumb Up

      I think you might be right

      I was struggling to think what the misunderstanding could be and you may have cracked it.

      "Are we going to be fed on this flight" v "Are we going to have Feds on this flight"

      Although I still can't understand why a well travelled passenger would be asking about food - I don't travel all that often but always know if food will be available or not. Maybe in America it varies a lot depending on the time of day and length of flight?

      1. I didn't do IT.

        Re: Why ask?

        It also depends on the disposition of the airline crew - people at the desk often tell passengers to ask the crew if a meal will be served on "marginal" flights.

        However, those are usually the ones that you don't want to eat what they service; first class or no!


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