A travel writer was kicked off a United Airlines flight last week for taking a picture of the video monitor in front of him, forcing him to dish out an additional $225 to find another cross Atlantic flight from Newark to Istanbul.
The flight attendant who had him removed told him he had violated the plane’s policy, which is outlined in their in-flight magazine.
The policy appears to be rather new. At least it didn’t appear to be in place in 2011 when they escorted a woman off a plane after she had photographed the name tag of a woman who had been rude to her with the intent of filing a complaint.
It was likely put into place after that incident, which resulted in widespread negative publicity for the airline, not to mention other incidents on other airlines where flight attendants treated passengers like shoe-bombing terrorists because they tried to take photos or shoot video on the plane.
The writer, who only goes by his first name, Matthew, is one of several bloggers who write for the site, UPGRD.
This was not an issue of privacy—the real impetus behind United’s onboard photography guidelines above. You can see that the picture of my seat did not compromise anyone’s privacy. Instead, I believe the FA simply could not fathom why I would want to take pictures of my seat and therefore deemed me a security threat and lied in order to get me off the airplane.
Not only did this episode publicly defame me, it made me question my loyalty to United. I’m not some kettle traveler making a baseless loyalty claim. Regular readers know that I am extremely loyal to Untied Airlines, fly them often and almost exclusively, write about them even more often, and have accrued nearly 950,000 lifetime flight miles with United—I’ll be a 26 year old million miler flyer later in the year.
I have no regrets about this incident (other than not being able to take the flight). I did nothing wrong and the FA who lied about me should be held to account by United. Surely, a liar is more of a security threat than a passenger who wants to take a picture of his seat.
United has not been contacted yet, but I will send them a copy of this story. I welcome an investigation into this incident and encourage my seatmate or any of those seated around me on the flight to chime in should you come across this story. I have nothing to hide other than my humiliation for being thrown off a flight on the pretense of a mistruth.
In 2008, a music band named Sons of Maxwell created a public relations nightmare for United Airlines with the following video after baggage handlers destroyed one of their guitars.