The Flight Home from Istanbul...

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.

Read the rest of my trip report to the Caucasus!

Thrown Off a United Airlines Flight for Taking Pictures!
Washington Dulles to Kuwait City in United Airlines BusinessFirst
Six Hours in Kuwait City
Pearl Lounge – Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait City to Istanbul in Turkish Airlines Economy Class
Istanbul to Baku in Azerbaijan Airlines Economy Class
Baku – A City of Illusions?
Review: Park Hyatt Baku
Baku Metro (Pictures)
Overnight Train from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia
Pictures: One Day in Tbilisi, Georgia
Overnight Train from Tbilisi to Yerevan, Armenia
Feeling at Home in Yerevan
Yerevan to Istanbul in Armavia Economy Class
The Flight Home from Istanbul...


bluto March 6, 2013 at 12:16 am

was that the same fa who got you kicked off?

No, just another crew member who must like greeting passengers because he was standing at the aircraft door both flights.

DJR March 6, 2013 at 04:07 am


Do you think it was just coincidence that you were sat next to a really nice FA ? Sorry Just stinking thinking.Apologies to FA if this is not true.

Jeremy March 6, 2013 at 04:31 am

Were you ever compensated by United?

Arun Baheti March 6, 2013 at 09:52 am

Matthew, was this the same FO as your outbound? If so, I wonder what the conversation was like between the FO and captain after your incident.

The crew reaction indicates that the other professional flight staff on your outbound thought the original FA was out of line. Hopefully that is reflected in internal training and learning UA is doing.

@DJR: I think so--I had that seat reserved for a month and the seat next to me was open till the last minute. I don't think the contract staff in EWR knew to sit a nice FA next to me on the flight. She just got the best available open seat.

@Jeremy: Yes, though it was very modest. I'll have a blog post about it soon.

@Arun: Different FO--I am positive if he had been part of the flight crew on the outbound, I would never have been thrown off.

Areuanidiot March 6, 2013 at 06:39 pm

So you get tossed from a flight for taking a picture complaining you didn't know it was banned, criticize the airline, then take another picture on the return trip and post it online. Hmmm, maybe you truly are an idiot or just looking for another confrontation to write about and generate traffic to your blog.

Leighton Ratkey March 6, 2013 at 09:37 pm

I love your attitude. I don't think I could be so forgiving. Don't let the issue with UA drop.

Patrick March 6, 2013 at 09:51 pm

I think it really stinks how you were treated on your outbound flight... But I have to say, I'm kind of glad it happened to you, otherwise I would have maybe never came across your blog. I absolutely love it, and can't stop reading your previous posts. Keep up the great job, and I look forward to your future posts.

Audax March 7, 2013 at 06:08 am

A picture of why we never fly in economy! That food looks terrible and is mostly rice! Oh and have never flown United since the late 70's when I lived in Chicago. EVERY United flight back then was a bad experience with surly flight crews and non-existent customer service, see things haven't changed much (and we've never been kicked off a flight!). We used Continental, Delta and American on Domestic US flights. Now we live about 40 minutes from the Vienna, Austria (Schwechat) Airport and still fly Star Alliance, just never on UA. We just got back from India on Emirates (now that is an AIRLINE!) Going to Bangkok and Singapore later this month on Austrian and Royal Thai. All the flight attendants will be happy and smiling, the food will be great, the sleeper seats even greater! Ahhhhhh... ANOTHER pleasant flight to look forward to!

Scott March 7, 2013 at 07:29 am

I have been quite intrigued by your experience! Not to mention very pleased at discovering this website. UA's behavior, though regrettable, is not unbelievable, considering the hyper concerns about security these days. It's sad we've come to this. As a fan of commercial aviation, photography has always been a means of capturing my experiences and I've NEVER encountered what you did! That leads me to the do reviewers in magazines like Airways manage to take photos? I'm sure they don't reveal their identity completely. They're writing a review for their publication!

Hopefully, you will run into this sort of incident again! Thanks for relaying the story and you're definitely gained a new reader!

keith b March 7, 2013 at 10:19 am

Following your. story which is all over the news. BEIng From NewJersey ! to me it seems the flight crews out EWR seem to always be uptight.

Dave March 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

Again, lawyer up. PR people are lame. Get your money and rep back in Federal Court. I agree not all UA FA's are twits but a lot of them are. I won't fly United or American anymore.

Helga March 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

Do you have any idea how snobbish you sound? Maybe it sounds normal to the people that normally read this blog? Being treated unfairly by an FA ( no matter what airline) happens all the time to regular people, although maybe not to this extent. If I whine all over the web will people roll out the red carpet for me too? Probably the opposite will happen. News flash: The world is not going to end if not everyone loves you.

Angela March 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Interesting - the FA sitting next to you had no issues about taking a photo of your meal ! More evidence that the original FA was a loose cannon ( oops ! Can I say cannon on an airplane, or is that threatening ? ) and needs to be disciplined !

Lively March 7, 2013 at 01:33 pm

Helga: You're missing the point. Matthew did NOTHING wrong yet he was thrown off a flight. The more citizens act like sheep...the more we will be treated as sheep.

Matthew: Your story is on Drudge.

Drew March 7, 2013 at 02:23 pm

I cannot accept that United has neither apologized nor refunded the cost of that flight.

Greg March 7, 2013 at 05:51 pm

Maybe United is not as bad as you think?

Random question, are you at the EWR UC club at the moment?

@Andrew: No, I was yesterday.

@Greg: I'll cover that story tomorrow and applaud UA. Indeed, they are not as bad as some of have them out to me. My incident just happened to be a very regrettable one.

And there is no need to post your comments more than once--replies are not displayed instantly.

Helga March 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm


I've done NOTHING wrong either but there are other ways of standing up for oneself. This second posting just puts it over the top.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who wanted to know how Matt got back home. I don't understand why someone would be so upset about him writing about it. Thank you Matthew for reporting on your incident!

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