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. 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
      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


    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!

      2. tim 4

        since air marshalls

        are required to wear suits on all flights, it shouldn't be hard to spot them. but what color , you ask? that's secret. since no one ever wears a suit on a plane , you can ask the one guy in economy in a brooks bros how long he's been an " agent".

  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. TimeMaster T


      Just keep in mind that the crew have their own portable air masks so you would only be affecting innocent civilians.

      Mines the one with the gas mask and boarding pass in the pocket.

  19. Mountford D

    Post-9/11 paranoia?

    I had a harrowing experience when we went to the US for a holiday. For a start, the airlines always tell you to lock your cases which we did, only to find the locks cut and the remains taped on the suitcase with a notice stating that our suitcases had been opened and inspected. The person welding the cutting tool had chopped off most of the zip handles as well, effectively destroying a perfectly good and by no means cheap suitcase.

    Having a passport with stamps from Muslim countries meant I was quizzed over my reasons for visiting them and why I was trying to enter the USA. The word "vacation" simply drew a blank. The official questioning me clearly had no geographical knowledge of Britain in relation to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Maybe it's good security but it has certainly made me think twice about another holiday in America. I'll spend my money elsewhere as the richest country in the world obviously doesn't need it.

    1. nichomach
      Big Brother

      My wife...

      ...not so long ago travelled to the US and made sure that the locks on her luggage were the TSA-approved "we can open them without your key/combination" jobbies so that they could inspect her checked baggage without destroying the locks. Which they destroyed anyway, the pricks. Big (Effing Retarded) Brother is watching you. Incompetently, but he IS watching...

      1. Peter Simpson 1

        Which they destroyed anyway

        The TSA has keys, but they are probably too lazy to go and get them, or they don't have enough, or the baggage handlers thought they saw something in the X-ray that looked valuable and broke the luggage open to have a look.

        Yeah. Flying in the US is a PITA now. But I feel *so* much safer. Not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'll Never use TSA locks

        Last time I checked the advice on my normal airlines website(Virgin is my airline of choice), they recommended NOT using TSA approved locks when flying to the USA!

        Flown American Airlines once, never ever again... rude and incompetent staff!

    2. Owen Ashcroft


      Went to New York 3 weeks ago, got questioned for 30 minutes at immigration because I've been to Egypt several times over the last few years, apparently the idea that it's a cheap holiday destination and I like to go for a week during the winter to sit on a beach didn't cut it with the immigration representative who grilled me very publicly about my plans in the US and wanting exact details about my trips to Egypt (1 beach holiday is much the same, and it was 6am in the morning according to my body). Even triple checked my return ticket, and the fact it was a first class return ticket seemed to confuse him even more, as I think he had decided I was a security risk, and it's well known for terrorists to buy first class return tickets to their home country.

  20. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Or maybe he was...

    ... just misheard.

  21. Matthew 4

    That makes no sense at all

    So it would be ok for him to hijack the next flight then? Either you're a threat or you're not...

  22. Svein Skogen

    Well, that makes two...

    Given that Ryanair recently had a guy fetched by three police officers for complaining that the food they served was inedible, I'm not THAT surprised.

    Article in Norwegian, sorry.


  23. Chris Harrison

    For those old enough to remember ...

    Good job he didn't mention the dirty knife.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    The airline was right ...

    I realise that this point of might not be totally popular among the punters, but this is a case where the airline had to step in to prevent worse.

    You see, this particular passenger impeded the boarding process by importuning a flight attendant with a question. That alone is questionable behaviour because a smooth boarding process is essential to quick and safe aircraft turnaround.

    But it gets worse. His alleged question was a clear attempt to take charge in a situation where, for security's sake, passengers must remain calm, passive, and compliant. It is in everyone's interest to reinforce this behavioural norm by removing troublemakers at the first sign of non-compliance.

    And last but not least, we don't know the man's actual question, his body language, his tone of voice, or his facial expression at the time of the incident. How likely is it that this gentleman behaved innocuously and that the airline acted willfully in disciplining him? As the police officer who responded to the incident correctly noted, we only have his word for it that he wasn't asking if police were on board. We see plenty of individuals who display aggressive and abusive behaviour which they then hotly deny. Take the case of Naomi Campbell for example.

    So, how likely is his story really?

    Given the circumstances, all I can see is that this individual abused his freedom of speech to spread negative comments about the airline. Is there any reason he should not be sued for damages to the airline's brand name and reputation?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      But clearly too subtle for some.

      1. lpopman
        Thumb Up

        titular wotsit


        And I'm the fist to admit that I miss a lot of subtlety :)

        elReg, this should be FOTW

    2. Jos
      Thumb Up


      Well put my man! Why the down votes though? Some people don't know the meaning of sarcasm anymore I guess.

      Saying this after boarding a plane in China, sitting 2 hours on the tarmac and then being released to the terminal again after about 20 passengers trying to start a mutiny, and then 2 hours more in the terminal, followed by a 2 hour flight. Sigh.

      I cannot recommend just boarding a plane to have "lunch" to then debark again, to go back boarding 2 hours later and have "dinner", by the way.

      Also much worse things were said than: "Are we going to have food on this flight", trust me, and nobody got arrested.

      On a unrelated note: Why do I start feeling homicidal on 5 hour flights that depart at 1am when they first serve "dinner", then duty-free, have an over-zealous captain talk in 2 languages telling how high up you are, and how fast you are flying,, and which part of the world you are passing over (it's freakin' dark at 2am) and how accurately close within 5 minutes you will be landing (at 5am including timezone), then 1 hour later "breakfast"? Is it normal to have multiple meails and buying expensive merchandise for no reason at all and yabbering in your ear all night long after 12 midnight?


  25. Jacqui


    Lets get this right - he was a PAYING customer. In the bad ol' days companies wanted customers so that they could stay in business. They also tried to avoid bad PR.

    Personally having heard (and seen) some of the seriously insane things that flight staff (and the gun toting air-plod) do "just for a larf" I can fully believe that he asked when a meal was due - the trolly dolly was having a "bad hair day" and gave him the security excuse and he told her what he though that was a load of ****.

    She called the cabin crew making something up to get rid of this "troublemaker" so she could have a nice quiet flight.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That's the airline who throw guitars into the holds of aircraft and then refuse to pay if you get them repaired within six months?

  27. Maksim Rukov

    the true exchange...

    'Scuze me miss, it's five-oh clock and I'm wondering when we'll be feds? I gavver that airlines copper bad reputation regarding food, people say it's the filth, but really I don't see what the fuzz is about. You could jacks up the heat, though. Still, better than a packed jam sandwich from me uncle old Bill! Mmm, I can smell something bacon, is it ducks and geese?

  28. Andy Blackburn

    Probably a good thing

    Because, if he flew United, they'd probably have broken his guitar:

  29. Anonymous Coward

    A world gone MAD!

    If you went back in time (60s, 70s, 80s) and told someone that in the 21st century, you'd be thrown of a plane for asking either about security or food. They'd think you where mad. When we had real terrorists killing people week in, week out. (IRA, Baader Meinhof, red brigade, PLO, etc, etc). I think the "security mindset" and Politically Correct (an oxymoron IMO) people are the new puritans, the new control freaks.

  30. elyob


    All he asked was whether there was any chance of a bacon sandwich ... "Is there a pig sandwich on board?"

  31. NightFox

    I give up, why DO you think he's talking shitze?

    Wow, in your opinion, based on what exactly?

    Is this the next stage of the mental illness that seems to be gripping society? First we had the 'big brother' paranoia, now it seems common practise to read news, come up with fantastic theories based on zero evidence, and then start ranting and foaming at the mouth as if they were true.

    In fact AC probably wrote this comment and went out and slapped a pensioner. That kind of thuggery makes me sick; I've already reported the incident to the police.

    Anyone remember The Self-Righteous Brothers from Harry Enfield's TV Programme?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He was lucky.

    It's hard to get any attention from the cabin crew on a United flight. And doubly unlikely they would server anything a reasonable person would call dinner.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm feeling pretty hungry right now, someone call the cops.. I want some doughnuts..

  34. Mad as a Bat
    IT Angle

    lets hope this guy is not a songwriter...

    I hope for United's sake that this guy is not a songwriter...


    1. John Sturdy

      I thought they claimed to have learnt from that incident...

      I thought United claimed to have learnt from that incident -- but maybe that's only in the area of guitar handling, not service in general.

  35. max allan

    We need recordings for our own security

    It's getting to the stage where I'd feel safer with a recording of everything I see and do. I'm tempted to leave my phone/mini video camera on video record all the time in environments with "officials" whose word is hard to question are around. At least then you could show the footage in court, assuming your recorder doesn't get confiscated and destroyed before you get there. (because of course only a terrorist would need to record things, so the recorder is a terrorist weapon which can be used in the fight against the establishment)

    I wonder if you'd then have a case for the police to answer for destruction of evidence?

    The number of idiots on roundabouts these days, I'm almost there with an in car camera, just so I can prove who drove into who while wildly swerving across lanes and failing to indicate.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Black Helicopters

      Ah but...

      ... don't forget you'd be arrested for using un-approved electronic equipment...

  36. Simon Brown

    at least I wasn't arrested

    At least I wasn't arrested for trying to fly with Multiple Sclerosis, just had my meds confiscated. A little back-story - I was travelling from to Glasgow when I found out my grandfather had died. Being Jewish his funeral was held very shortly after his death and I had to rush back to London to attend. Following the funeral I had to catch a plane back up to Glasgow to make a prior appointment (ok, gig)

    Here's my facebook status from last week:

    Simon Brown would like to thank security staff at London City Airport for making the sky a safer place by confiscating my sealed, marked, capped, prefilled copaxone injections. No I didn't have a doctor's letter because I didn't expect to need to fly (see previous status). You just cost the NHS £88. Well done.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the type of satirical comment I make

      that usually gets rejected, as if I actually meant it, possibly because I don't spell out that <i> I don't actually mean it </i>, I would suggest that the Law needs changing so that all people who need to self medicate with hypodermic needles - and thus carry potential poisons or liquid explosives onto aircraft (at least, when they want to fly somewhere) - should be allowed to expire, or be euthanased, for the sake of security (you know, the way the Godwinism party would have done).

    2. Scott 19


      get the same with my insulin, but when i point out that if they take it off me i'll simply die they generally give it back, If not can i speak to your boss works.

    3. Graham Wilson

      @Simon Brown - They're fucking moronic mongrels! Travel security is now of more concern than ever!

      They're fucking moronic mongrels, the damn hide of them!

      ...And what about a much more common disease, diabetes? Once, pre 9/11 times, I've often seen people giving themselves insulin injections before their in-flight meal.

      We really have to do something about the abuse these IQ-deficient security people are causing to the ordinary travelling public. Their actions are really getting beyond a joke and I've not seen any evidence that it's adding anything to our security whatsoever.

      Moreover, I'd content that whilst these morons are harassing ordinary people they're not following up on real security issues.

      Are you really going to tell me that the security experts haven't anticipated incidents such as this before now? Seems not, so what about the bigger more important issues of real terrorists? Are their judgments just as moronic? It's a real worry. In any simulation or scenario analysis such a simple issue should have been picked up and simple pragmatic schemas set in place to check the bona fides of the traveller such as ringing the NHS or his/her doctor etc.

      For starters, people have to start complaining en mass, and we really need a few court cases where these security morons have been proven to have overstepped the mark.

      This instance is truly disgraceful and needs much wider reporting.

  37. Efros


    He gyped her for the executive relief tariff on a previous flight, she was only making sure that she could maximize her earnings for the flight by eliminating a bad payer and presumably bumping a besuited one from economy.

  38. McMoo

    El Reg - you have been played

    This incident has been discussed extensively in Flyertalk's Safety and Security forum.

    The conclusion was that the chap:

    - may be telling porkies to gain publicity

    - is a publicity guru on the way back from a marketing conference

    To be honest people think he's a swizz

    1. nichomach

      Read the link

      One person raised the guy's profession and then leapt to the conclusion that he must be lying. The majority of posters seem to either outright believe himn on the basis of their own experience or at least give him the benefit of the doubt.

    2. Gangsta

      Uh no

      I've just read that thread and can conclude that there is no general consensus.

      Some people believe some do not.

      They may be correct or wrong.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Funny, I just read through that forum and that certainly isn't the conclusion. In fact there isn't a conclusion, I think everyone is waiting to get more information...

    4. Captain TickTock

      He is...

      a marketing guru. See his blog.

      Plenty of free notoriety. There is no such thing as bad publicity (for him at least)

  39. Hans 1

    Redmond Security expert works for FAA?

    I do not know which twat works for the aviation Security, but somebody needs to connect his brains to the rest of his body ... They feed us so much FUD on security grounds, it's getting really absurd ... the bottom-line being, anybody can still pass security-check with a 5 inch plastic knife up his pants anytime he wants ... as long as he does not forget to take his belt off when he passes the detector portal ... ridiculous.

    I never switch my mobile off on flights because it is just simply utter bs, I know for sure, several of my close relatives work for a famous aircraft maker, one "very" close one was in charge of a flight test program.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Phones on flights

      "I never switch my mobile off on flights because it is just simply utter bs"

      Except it isn't:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        > "I never switch my mobile off on flights because it is just simply utter bs"

        > Except it isn't:


        Are there a lot of planes still flying that were made before 1989?

        1. Chad H.

          More than you might think

          There are more aircraft from before 1989 than you might think - Aircraft are big expensive capital costs that are designed to last.

          737-400 first flew in 1988, BA have 19 of these in the air now (They may not all be from before this date, but it shows there are a decent number of the model out there). They also have 40 A320's,this model also flew in the same year.

    2. paulf

      Mobiles on flights

      I know this isn't quite the point you're making but there is more to switching off your mobile on flights than just flight safety (although that is the oft trotted out reason). The other problem is that when in the air the mobile can see far more cell sites than it would normally be able to on terra firma. I understand that this causes all sorts of problems in the mobile network.

      [There is also an issue with being an ignition risk with all that fuel about but when inside the fuselage I think that is probably as tenuous as the interference risk when in flight].

      Anyway - what ever reason they use to get people to turn off their mobiles on planes, I'm just happy that aircraft remain free of Dom Joly #da da da dum; da da da dum; da da da dum dum# "I'M ON THE PLANE" type situations.

      I know the likes of Ryanair are interested in these flying pico cells so they can milk a load of roaming costs out of it, but I wonder if they've considered the possibility of remote detonation thanks to a mobile "accidentally" left in the cabin from a previous flight....

    3. ta6rma


      Yes me too. If there was even the remotest risk that mobiles could interfere with anything important (as opposed to maybe the inflight entertainment channel?) they would be classed in the same league as other dangerous items, like mineral water and nail-clippers.

  40. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Only 2 things are certain about this story

    He was travelling in first class - of course he would get a meal. He could probably have had anything he pleased. The airline would probably have served him the the cattle-class passenger of his choice, sauteed and tastefully garnished, if he'd asked for it.

    The two certainties are that this story obviously has more behind it than we've been told and secondly given the airline paranoia and ability to act without oversight, review or criticism we'll never find out, either.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fly the unfriendly skies

      "probably have served him the the cattle-class passenger of his choice, sauteed "

      Ah, you've eaten on United, I see.

      My new company's travel policy gives me the choice of only Air France or United. I'll be earning fewer frequent flyer miles this year...

    2. Galidron

      Maybe not

      Most flights in the US don't server meals. They have to be a minimum flight time and over a common meal time.

  41. Ball boy Silver badge

    True or not, something's very wrong here

    Someone actually *wanted* to eat the food on United? Surely that's an indication of mental instability and worthy of ejection no matter what actually happened! And yes, I've flown United <shudder>

    My therapy's going very well, thanks for asking.

  42. JimC

    I dunno folks...

    How people can extrapolate so much from so little information...

    Do some airline staff behave like idiots sometimes?

    Yes, probably inevitable as they have to deal with the public

    Do some first class passengers behave like idiots sometimes (arrogant with it often too)?

    Pretty much dead certain - ask anyone who deals with the public!

    Is it possible that an idiot staff member and an idiot passenger could interact to create a massive cluster****?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well having flown United in First

    It's an understandable question to ask. They only really serve anything other nuts at certain times of the day (lunch and dinner - possibly breakfast) on their domestic product. As you'd expect from a US based airline, you get free extra added (not to mention new "and improved) frumpy flight attendant.

  44. Anonymous Coward


    ...United the airline that threw a passenger off for asking for more orange juice, after the stewardess lied through her teeth that he'd threatened her?

    Fortunately in that case all the other passengers waited and gave their account which fully backed the passenger.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    I wish I'd read this last week...

    ... I could have mentioned to the crew that the annoying little brat behind me on a trans atlantic flight had been asking suspicious questions about the meal service in between his ineffectual parents asking 'Little Jonny' to 'Please settle down'.

    They managed to get away with getting out of thier seats while we were second in line at the end of the runway about to accelerate and still didn't get kicked out. Why can't crew supply Kalpol these days. </Rant>

  46. GettinSadda

    What happened...

    He said: "Is there any meal served on board today?"

    She heard: "Is there an air marshal on board today?"

    Result: Panic

  47. Squirrel

    air marshal

    'any meals' =/= 'air marshals'

    There's been worse misunderstandings I'm sure.

  48. emaclaca

    UK's not much better

    Article 78(b) of the Air Navigation Order 2005, states " that "no person shall while on an aircraft behave in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly manner towards a member of the crew". Now that doesn't sound too wide ranging or open to abuse does it?

    This sounds very like the case involving Scotland's former lord advocate, Lord Fraser who got arrested for asking a ScotAirways stewardess why he had been moved to the back of the plane. Again it was a stewardess' word against his. Thankfully, those on the flight offered to go to court to defend him, so they finally dropped the case.

    It doesn't surprise me that if you give poorly paid overworked staff the ability to have passengers arrested for being threatening, they will use them to get their own back on any passenger who steps out of line.

  49. Dennis

    Re: When's the last time...

    Remember, never travel with anyone called John (nickname Jack). You'll be arrested when you trry to greet them.

    And never travel anywhere if you're about to marry someone called Juanna.

    1. SirStrider

      Stolen from the IT Crowd

      Or travel with someone called Peter File.

      1. EvilGav 1

        Who . . .

        . . . stole it from Gary Larson . . .

  50. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    To hell with all airlines anyway.

    Personal flying is a filthy, polluting, world-destroying form of amusement, and the world will be a better place if/when all passenger planes and airports are abandoned. So, well done that stewardess. It's like the BA cabin crew dispute where BA says the union wants to put the company out of business; they don't, but I do. I'm not even sure that shooting down a few would be too extreme, but it probably wouldn't change anything in the long run. (I mean, I'm not posting anonymously, they'd find me.) A better use of my time would be training birds to crap on their windshields.

    1. HFoster

      You're a ghastly idiot

      Through no fault of my own I live and work in a different country than the one I was born in (I'm happy here, but the job wasn't actively sought on my part). The country I was born in is not the same country as the one my parents were born in, and one of my grandparents now lives in yet another country to spend their twilight years with my aunts and uncles.

      Suppose serious illness or a death occurs in my family. I can take the train back to where I'm from, but my more distant relatives wouldn't exactly be able to postpone a funeral by a week so I could travel over by ferry.

      Think before you type. You fucking prat.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Wrong is wrong

        Re banning air travel, if you choose to live and work in a different country from the people you seem to be claiming to love and to care about, I didn't make you do it. I assume you are choosing to get the maximum income for your skills regardless of moral or personal responsibility to others, like a drug dealer. Then again I suppose you may be from somewhere like Iraq, or come to think Mexico, in which case I can't blame you for leaving.

        Anyway, unless you are a doctor or something, if one of your relatives in another country gets sick or dies, there won't be much that you can practically do for them that you can't mostly do even if denied the privilege of being lifted off the ground and hurtled through the stratosphere to get there quicker. And there are very fast trains now anyway. And if you are a doctor, then, again, shouldn't you be serving your own community back home?

        1. HFoster

          I don't care if you do drag me down to your level

          No, there wouldn't be much I could do to help in a practical sense, whether I got there within 4 days (taking leave from work and flying) or four weeks (taking leave and sailing), but that's not why people travel to see their families, is it?

          I know you were just trolling with your first post, but now you're being an obnoxious little fucker on purpose. I hope something happens in your life that forces you into a situation where flying is the only option, just so you can see how wrong you are.

    2. phoenix


      Do you own a car?

      Do you eat any food not grown organically by you, on your own land?

      Do you take any medicines?

      Do you only wear natural materials grown in your local vicinity?

      Do you live in a wooden, super - insulated building?

      if you can answer NO to the first three and YES to the last two you have credibility, if not look at icon it speaks volumes.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Could it have been

    Said: "Excuse me miss, are there meals on board this flight"

    Heard: "Excuse me miss, are there marshals on board this flight"

    FAM's dont like to be pointed out to other people as it kind of ruins their under-cover element.

    Speaking as an ex US Carrier employee (Not United)

    Fail because the stewardess seems a bit....... unhinged (if he told the real story!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Since when did the word marshals sound anything like the word meals? Even when spoken in a merkin accent they don't even sound similar.

  52. Graham Bartlett

    Pre-9/11 US paranoia

    The first time I went to the States on business, I was going through immigration, as you do. The conversation went like this:-

    "The purpose of your visit, sir?"

    "My company's working for Ford, and I've come over to help set up the current project."

    "And how long are you going to be here for?"

    "Two weeks, maybe three."

    "WHY DON'T YOU KNOW!?!?!?!?"


    "... er... because getting things set up might take longer than I was expecting...?"

    On a later trip, I was a little lost in a small town, and a couple of cops were parked with their windows down. I walked over and said "Excuse me, please could you tell me where whatever street is?" First reaction was visibly a scan for weapons (understandable, I guess) - bear in mind that until I spoke to them, they had no idea I was there though. And the second reaction was obviously to ask themselves, "can we ignore him, tell him to fuck off or arrest him?" Finally enough basic civility came through to say "sorry boy, don't know where that is".

    Very odd. Americans are generally about the friendliest people you're ever likely to meet. But put a uniform on them, and one and all they turn into jackbooted imbeciles. It's a strange, strange thing.

    1. Graham Wilson
      Thumb Up

      @ Graham Bartlett: I understand the problem well.

      I understand the problem well.

      Once I told US Immigration exactly to the day how long I was going to be in the US, if I recall it was 6 days. Anyway, as buisness took a little longer than I'd expected and I needed another few days.

      Worried about overstaying my visa, I went to much trouble to get to an immigration office (which was in Albuquerque, NM), and after waiting many hours I was told not to worry about it. When I asked the official to extend my visa or at least stamp my passport to say I'd visited the immigration office he refused to do so. Thus I left the office without any proof that I'd even tried to extend it.

      I had no trouble leaving the US but I was apprehensive until I had done so as my visa had expired three days earlier.

  53. andy 45

    Wouldnt some people feel safer knowing there was a policeman on board?

    That's all....

  54. John F***ing Stepp

    Bad questions.

    "Is that a pint bottle in the pilot's back pocket?"

    "Can I go ahead and shoot up?" holding a hypodermic "I get stressed while flying."

    "You look Arabic somehow, should I be concerned?"

    "Oh, the inflight is Diehard 3, damn; can I get off the plane now?"

  55. DaveB

    Bad Answer

    This reminds me of the guy asked by Algerian border guards if he had a criminal record.

    His response of "I didn't know it was a requirement" ensured that it took the guards 6 hours to process him into the country.

  56. Mark C 2

    "Flight attendants have a lot of authority", they don't.

    You *only* have to obey an instruction from a Flight Attendant if it is to do with aircraft safety.

    The Captain, on the other hand, has more authority than GOD.

  57. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Vote with your wallets, people.

    Just stop flying. I personally don't tolerate being treated like cattle, so I haven't flown since somebody blew up some buildings in New York.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    I'd have believed it.........................

    If he was flying Ryan Air.

    That's Michael O'Leary rifiling your pockets for added extras.

    1. Chad H.


      A guy in first Class, Asks about a meal, and you'd only believe it if it were RyanAir?

      Consiering that you'll get neither on RyanAir, I'm scratching my head here.

  59. kain preacher

    @Graham Wilson

    Americans do get irony. We do not take every thing literally . its the police agencies that do that .TSA and federal police are paid not to have a sense of humor.

    1. Graham Wilson
      Big Brother

      @kain preacher - Ok, I accept some Americans do understand.

      Ok, I accept some Americans do understand but irony is something I actively try to avoid whilst in the US because of the strange looks I get when I'm being my usual self.

      The message about being strictly straight down the line with all forms of US security is well known and understood by most experienced travellers here in Australia. Long before 9/11--probably a decade or so before--one of my fellow countrymen made the usual ironic joke (a common local trait for many Australians) to security at a US airport. They threw the book at him, locked him up and threw away the key for ages, it totally ruined his vacation.

      It took very considerable efforts and much time by our diplomatic service to have the matter straightened out.

      I'm very careful what I say when in the US in case my comments are misunderstood. The rules are only speak when spoken to, only answer the question and be succinct and to the point about one's answer. It's far too risky to say one iota more.

      I've done a reasonable amount of travelling and even before 9/11 the US was always the most problematic of countries to enter (that's unless you're Mexican).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I've never understood this British obsession with Americans not understanding irony. It's not that I think Americans do understand irony, it's more that most of the British people I know can't explain what irony is.

        P.S. Before you start flaming me as some smararsed merkin, please understand that I am British.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn Good Thing

    He didn't have a guitar with him.

    Does he write songs, by the way?

  61. Stewart Haywood


    There are two posibilities:

    A) The cabin staff had been out-sourced from a non-English speaking country.

    B) One of the cabin staff needed an extra 30mins on the ground to do some shopping.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    If I can't drive to a destination I don't go

    Flying is such a pain... TSA - Thousands Standing Around... they are worse than Road Workers.

  63. John Tserkezis

    Perhaps we need something like the "Hitch Hiker's guide"

    "In the event you find yourself on board a United Airlines flight, ensure you are not carrying anything that could be used as a weapon, or in the event you are carrying a weapon and are travelling to Dallas, ensure you carry it overtly, where the stewards will kindly stow it for you during the flight, and return it at your destination.

    It is vitally important you always maintain an inert poker face, and at _ANY_ cost, do NOT ask the stewards if food will be served during the flight"

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what if he did ask about police?

    Many people are scared of flying and of terrorism - maybe asking whether there are police on board would be for reassurance? Obviously the stewardess wouldn't point them out so what's the problem?

    I think it's time that the security industry was accountable to US, not the other way around, and we need some kind of passengers' charter that involves us not getting treated like crap. Many people have pointed out that airlines are losing money because of this and I can only agree.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Am I missing something?

      I thought air marshalls were compulsory on US flights. Maybe I've been misinformed by the British media, and if so I apologise for wasting your time with this post. If, however, they are compulsory who would anybody need to ask? If that is the case then the whole story is even weirder.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why would the stewardess have decided to make up a story about him asking if the police were on board? Why did he not question her strange answer to his question? It's not like she would have misheard him, the two questions don't even sound similar.

    Now I wouldn't assume (as some have done) that he's telling a bare faced lie here. However, I do think there's something he's not telling us.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Yeah but......

    There is a real tendency to employ pricks and meat heads in security and other occupations.

    Friend of mine.... lives in a country town 150Km away from dentist.

    Got a knock to the gob, loosens tooth, sees dentist in emergency. Outcome - tooth may live or tooth may die - and if it dies - it may take a few months or a few years.

    Stupid "medical authority" type dentist asks him to make a 300K round trip, every month, just to do a sensitivity test.

    Test = tool with some dry ice in it, being placed up against tooth for a few moments...

    Very cold sensation = demonstrates tooth is still alive.

    Point of test? - well the guy then gets the shits up with travelling backward and forward cause it's a whole day away and much driving etc....

    And he then keeps the appointment - by phone. This irritates receptionist - who complains to dentist....

    And the dentist comes clean that the tooth will either live or die, and if it dies, it will become very sensitive to heat or cold just before it does so.....

    Point of running backwards and forwards for tests? No good reason.

    The dentist should have said this at the very outset.

    But no dickheads like him are quite happy to have you running backwards and forwards for NO particular reason....

    So having has some experience with dickheads in the airlines and security industries.... nothing like this story surprises me.

  67. SmudgerUK

    numpty air stewards

    Having been woken up and asked aggressively to turn off my flight safe mode i-phone whilst cruising at altitude by an Airline staff member because she didn't understand what flight safe mode meant, not a lot is surprising about these power hungry nutters...

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      no flight safe mode

      several airlines don't allow for flight mode. They even insist on you turning off mp3 players whenever the seatbelt signis on.

      Perhaps they should buy better aeroplanes

This topic is closed for new posts.