Hi all—I've been amazed at the interest my story has produced and hope it can be used as a catalyst to both clarify United Airlines' photo policy and guarantee that what happened to me will never happen to another onboard guest.
Keeping up with all the comments, e-mail, and media requests has been difficult as I traversed through the Caucasus this week with limited internet access. I am now back in the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul preparing to fly back to Newark this afternoon—on United.
United has reached out and I had a 25-minute telephone conversation with a representative in the PR department yesterday. We reached no settlement, but did have time to discuss the issue in depth and I am comfortable saying this—United is taking this issue seriously and has launched an extensive internal investigation.
At this point, United has not offered an apology and frankly I am not expecting one. An apology would reflect horribly on the pilot and FA and I do understand the delicacy of corporate apologies in general. United did express an appreciation for my loyalty and a desire to see me continue to fly on the carrier.
I will not tar and feather United Airlines as a whole based on the unfortunate actions of one FA and one pilot. Our 10-year relationship means something and I am not going to split because of one bad day. Having said that, United must now earn my trust back. More importantly, I want to see the airline move in a direction that no passenger is ever again put in the position that I was.
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With over 500 comments on my account of the incident, it is easy to lose track of a few pieces of evidence that strengthen my argument—
Every person who was on that flight and has weighed in has backed up my account of what happened. NBC News has independently confirmed that other passengers have corroborated my story.
Here's some of the words from others on my flight--
I was actually on this exact flight in the BusinessFirst cabin of UA904 (sitting in one of the first few rows right by the galley) and witnessed most of the incident. Just to confirm, the passenger never seemed to act unruly and actually remained very level headed throughout the entire ordeal. The flight attendant darted behind my field of vision into another part of the BF cabin, came right back up and went to the other flight attendants. She said something to the effect of "There is a customer in the back of the cabin taking pictures of us while we work." She then disappeared for a while (presumably to go talk to the captain?) and I actually didn't think much of it…I'm actually shocked to read what ultimately transpired and see the actual photo. In fact, I'm happy to post MY photo of the flight map showing the flight path from EWR-IST which I took from my seat, uploaded to social media and was not thrown off the plane for taking. The gentleman sitting next to me in BF actually did the exact same thing, in fact.
The event seemed so innocuous that I really just moved on without thinking twice. This is really just bizarre to me and while I don't know what happened in many private conversations, I can assure you there really was no ruckus or disturbance to the BF cabin beyond the initial outburst by the FA.
I was on the flight, and while I didn’t see the blogger get removed from the airplane, I did witness the interaction between the FA and the passenger in 17D who took a picture of the BF cabin. The passenger took a pic, and the FA screamed from the front of the plane “Who took that picture?!?!?! Who took it?” When 17D admitted to taking the picture, she verbally reprimanded him, yelling that it was against FAA regulations (which it is not, to my knowledge). The passenger gave a look of disbelief and said, “really?” and then put his camera away and really said nothing else.
The lack of respect for the passenger and overall rudeness displayed by the FA in this instance was pretty alarming, IMO. It obviously got even worse when the blogger was removed from the plane.
That was me in 17C.
I didn’t even get to take the picture before she lost it. My metering light went off. She demanded to see 3-4 pictures that I had taken previously not believing I had taken it.
She then proceeded to tell me it was against FAA regulations. I asked her since when? And she then laid down a whopper on me saying that they don’t make up FAA regulations. Ironic. After sitting down and putting my camera away the Purser came by to have another talk with me.
[A]s far as I remember, there were no loud or hostile comments coming from the front cabin, so I can’t imagine it being a threatening scenario to begin with…
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This story will die down in the next few days, but before it disappears I am convinced we need to have a frank national discussion on the use of so-called "taboo" words onboard airplanes. The hundreds of comments on the matter show that this is a divisive yet important question and as you might imagine, I have a very strong opinion on this topic. Look for that in the coming days.
As United and I continue our conversation, I will keep all of you informed on what transpires. I look forward to resolving the issue and moving on. Thank you for the many who have supported me and thank you everyone for voicing your opinion.