Here’s Why a United Airlines Pilot Turned Around Mid-Flight

We’re not sure whether to call this one another case of naughty passengers or just an instance of self-indulgent fliers with a sense of entitlement. Or both.

For the second time this week, an airline pilot turned his plane around and headed back to the departure airport on a long-haul flight.


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Naughty Passengers

The reason this time?

Two passengers on a half-full United Airlines flight from Newark-Liberty International Airport to Tel Aviv, Israel on January 20 decided to upgrade themselves to empty seats in business class. Flight attendants told them several times that they could not sit there because they didn’t pay the fare. When the passengers refused to move back to their economy seats, the pilot turned the plane around and returned to Newark, according to USA Today and multiple reports.

it was barely a day after another incident in which a pilot turned around a trans-Atlantic, diverting an American Airlines flight back to Miami that was headed to London after a passenger refused to wear a face mask.

Verbal confrontations ensued on both flights, including the United plane when flight attendants asked the passengers who had moved to produce their tickets showing they were sitting in business class.

“There was room so they probably said to themselves, ‘why not come’ (into business class),” passenger Roi Lotan told Israeli Channel 12 TV. “A riot started. … We landed back in New York, after we left for Israel.”

In a statement to USA Today, United Airlines said the flight was turned around “due to disruptive passengers on board. Law enforcement officials met the aircraft upon landing.”

The original flight was canceled and passengers were rebooked after landing back at Newark.

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