After my ejection from a United Airlines flight to Istanbul, I was admittedly apprehensive as I walked down the jetway to board my return flight to Newark eight days later. What if the same crew was aboard...or one particular crew member?
As I stepped onboard the aircraft the same FA who greeted me at Newark a week earlier greeted me once again, followed by the statement, "Don't I know you from somewhere?"
I smiled and suddenly the FA's eyes went wide and he said, "You're the...oh man" before giggling and telling the purser behind him that I was the one who had been "kicked off" the flight the previous week. I responded, "Let's hope for a drama-free flight today, but feel free to take good care of me...I'm behind the curtain today in seat 22A." He nodded in agreement and flashed a smile. Thankfully, the frenzied FA who kicked me off was not onboard.
Seated next to me was a FA flying non-rev and she immediately struck up a conversation. We chatted off and on throughout the flight and she was a gem of a person--oh how I wish it had been her on the outbound flight instead of her colleague...
The crew was mesmerized by me. Apparently I had been a topic of dinner conversation the previous night and I spent a chunk of the flight in the back galley chatting with a handful of the crew. I promised not to divulge the specifics of our conversation but I will say this: while I likely will never get an apology from United corporate for what happened, the collective apology I received from the crew on this flight meant a lot to me.
Midway through the flight, a FA notified me that "the First Officer would like to speak to you" and while my heart skipped a beat to hear those words, the FO just wanted to chat and hear first-hand about what had happened to me. We spent about 30 minutes chatting in the back galley about issues ranging from photos to security to the merger to contract negotiations. I was having a splendid time.
Throughout the flight, the crew constantly checked up on me and I was treated royally, though I am sure it helped to have a popular off-duty FA sitting next to me, who was also well-looked after.
And I took pictures onboard--just of the meals--and no one said anything!
As an aside, this was the best coach-class meal I've ever had on United international flight.
So it was a great flight. The crew was warm and kind, the lunch was tasty, we arrived into Newark 45 minutes early, allowing me to take an earlier flight down to Washington, and most importantly--I realized the unfortunate incident on the outbound was just that--an unfortunate incident and not indicative of the airline as a whole.
Life on the new United has not been smooth and I fear the carrier is radically underestimating the problems its faces, but this flight reminded me so clearly of why I have been loyal to United for the last decade.