A passenger's discontent over his meal choice on a United Airlines flight to Amsterdam allegedly resulted in the flight being diverted to Chicago, according to another passenger on board.
The International Air Transport Association's report earlier this year, which revealed a 47% increase in unruly passenger incidents in 2022 compared to the previous year, with an incident occurring approximately once every 568 flights.
A recent incident involving a business-class passenger on a United flight causing a disturbance on board due to an unavailable meal choice forced the airline to divert to Chicago, exemplifying this trend.
Unexpected Turn of Events
The airline confirmed in a statement that United Flight 20, which departed from Houston at 4.20 PM local time on Sunday, had to make an unexpected landing at O'Hare International Airport due to the need for police intervention in removing a disruptive passenger from the plane.
Fuel Dumping for Passenger Safety
The flight-tracking website Flightradar24 displayed that the aircraft circled Chicago's O'Hare airport in order to burn off fuel, a process known as fuel dumping, to reduce its weight for a safe landing.
Flight Diversion Due to ‘Unruly Passenger’
According to a Twitter post on Flightradar24, the flight to Chicago was diverted due to an "unruly passenger." Additionally, the post explains the purpose and effectiveness of airline safety cards, along with the challenges associated with getting passengers to read them.
Later that day, insider XJonNYC took to Twitter to share internal United communications, which detailed the presence of a "disruptive [passenger] on board" along with the lowest level of threat, a threat level of one.
In a separate tweet, the Twitter user mentioned that the passenger seemed to be extremely angry about their meal selection.
Flightrader24 reported that the flight landed in Amsterdam slightly over three hours later than its scheduled arrival time, arriving around 12:30 PM local time. Typically, the total flight duration for this trip is 9 hours and 30 minutes.
United Airlines Confirms the Incident
“United flight 20 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Amsterdam diverted to O’Hare International Airport and landed safely following a passenger disturbance. Law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate and escorted the passenger off the plane. The aircraft then continued to Amsterdam,” United said in a statement to The Guardian.
In cases of unruly behavior, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may impose fines on passengers for disruptive behavior, which can reach up to $37,000 per violation. It is worth noting that a single incident can involve multiple violations, and passengers may also face criminal charges.
Meal Expectations on United Airlines
Although the specific meal that triggered the unruly passenger's discontent remains unclear, it is worth noting that United's business class passengers are typically provided with a complete three-course meal, along with additional food options throughout the duration of the flight.
Main Course Choices for Business-Class Passengers
According to Live and Let's Fly, business class passengers flying from Newark to Amsterdam were offered a selection of main course options, including seared lemongrass salmon, seared beef short rib, or ricotta salata and wild honey manicotti. The cost of a one-way business class seat on the Houston to Amsterdam United flight is typically $6,927.
United Says It Will Offer ‘Upgraded’ Meal Service
United has been criticized for not returning its in-flight meals to pre-pandemic standards. The quality of the dessert has been declining to the point where even the pre-packaged ice cream has been substituted with small chocolate bars or, in some instances, completely removed. In response, the airline had announced in 2022 that it would be upgrading its business class offerings.
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Sylvia Silverstone is a passionate writer who loves to share her knowledge and expertise on a wide range of topics, including beauty, life hacks, entertainment, health, news, and money. With a keen eye for detail and a talent for storytelling, Sylvia's engaging writing style keeps readers coming back for more.